Bill Maher Got It Wrong: Why We Must Keep The Pressure On Rush Limbaugh

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There is an old, old joke about a teacher who tells a mother her son is a monster and that she doesn’t know what to do with him. The mother shrugs, “Hit the kid next to him. It will scare him straight.”

When it started I hoped that the uproar over sluts, Rush, and video tapes would have an impact beyond Rush Limbaugh and his ugly hatred.  Whether it actually ended his career or only temporarily curtailed his income, I hoped it might serve to scare all the kids around him into some vestige of civility.

So far it hasn’t even scared Rush, at least not much. His second apology was even less contrite than his first. He was sorry for “using inappropriate words in a way I never do,” (roll the tape library and get out the popcorn) and that he had unfortunately descended to the level of the left “who say
these things all the time and never apologize.”

In one sense Limbaugh is right. He isn’t the only one spewing crap over the airwaves and the Internet. Shock jocks, pundits, and entertainers from both the right and the left display poor taste and intemperance in remarks based on the gender, physical appearance, or even the religion of their targets. And Limbaugh was not the only one bashing a person outside of the public domain. Many crass remarks (Worst Person in the World anyone?) are hurled at persons who accidentally or temporarily stumble into the realm of celebrity. Fluke was attacked while being courageous. I’m not sure it is any more forgivable to humiliate someone for being transiently clumsy, unthinking, or stupid.

People who have the privilege of the airwaves should be expected to fulfill the accompanying responsibilities. If those with the megaphones won’t police themselves it is our job to enforce some standards and we have totally abrogated that duty.  When one particular group is offended – gays, fat people, the mentally challenged – there is a flurry of protests but Shakespeare had it right – sound and fury signifying nothing. This does not refer to the insults, it describes the response. We let the slime slide right over us.  We didn’t call out crummy remarks from the left during the Bush Administration and now they have escalated beyond crummy to ugly and even dangerous.

Does the current brouhaha mean the public has awakened to that fact or are they just exhausted by the vitriol or fed up to the eyeballs with Rush?

Doesn’t matter. Now that we have finally taken action it is critical that we don’t stop until everyone gets in line. So far they haven’t. Rush followed his “apology” by doubling down and going after Fluke’s campus activism as justification for his “two words.”  Now he is claiming none of this has hurt him and some real journalists are speculating that he is enjoying and possibly even profiting from the frenzy.

Quite the opposite of being scared straight, the other kids in the classroom are giving Limbaugh a thumbs up. Fox News, of course, has his back, GOP politicians have pretty much patted him on it, and Bill Maher, perhaps the worst offender on our side, said the left was embarrassing itself by not accepting his apology. Bill, (a) it wasn’t an apology, it was an excuse for two words he used during three solid days of Fluke-centered rants and (b) it wasn’t our apology to accept and Miss Fluke quite rightly declined to do so.

This column has had a chance, along with its author, to sit and stew for a week, and it has become more relevant and its author more angry than before. The furor is already dying down, people are starting to say, “aw shucks maybe Maher is right,” and another bright shiny object has flashed across the cable screen (Who is telling the truth, Game Change or Sarah?).  We have seen this movie before. The right never runs out of steam. They are still angry enough about health care to be planning primaries against wayward members of their own party two years later. But let a bell ring to end the round and the left always retreats to its corner. Rush knows this and is already back to stirring the pot. He figures the danger has passed.

This time it must not happen. We must pursue Limbaugh to a point where he pays an actual price and everyone else in the business knows it. Costing him the Armed Forces Network gig would be one crack across the knuckle, going after some of the Clear Channel licenses would cost him even more. We must make it clear to Rush and to the kids sitting next to him, as well as the politicians who kow-tow to them all, that some free speech is simply out of bounds. If we quit now, nothing will have been accomplished by the sound and fury of the last four days and, believe it or not, it will only get worse.

We need to keep the pressure on congresspersons to pressure both the FCC and Armed Forces Network and we must make it clear to new and/or returning sponsors that advertising on Rush’s show is a long term liability. Yes, I am talking vendetta and I don’t apologize for doing so.

Also, while we are chasing Rush around the classroom with a ruler or better yet a big role of masking tape, it wouldn’t hurt to look back over our shoulders to make sure Megan, Karl, Dylan, Keith and the rest are paying attention and taking notes.

27 Replies to “Bill Maher Got It Wrong: Why We Must Keep The Pressure On Rush Limbaugh”

  1. Thank you, Yellow Dog Yankee. I know Maher got it wrong and in the process showed off his ignorance. There was no apology..it was just more vitrol and lies. Maher only made me angrier with his insult to the intelligence of “Liberals”. Sandra Fluke would not accept his non apology and neither will 98 of his former sponsors.

    Maher can accept what he wants but he needs to know he stands with freaking lying willard and the simpering cowards who do.

  2. Rush has only made a half hearted apology without ever mentioning that he completely mis represented Ms Flukes testimony.His second attempt was even less sincere…Women are not amused by Bill Maher’s comment the idea that a radio personality who is at least known as the ‘voice of the GOP’ should be allowed to vilify a person who was a’civilian’.Rush Limbaugh has to be held accountable. This is not a classroom Limbaugh, though the whining rants on his recent broadcast suggest otherwise,is calculatedly mis informing and whipping his adherents to a froth of thoughtless and mindless hatred . Its time to try something different

  3. Thank you for this, you’re absolutely right, and thank you also for including the violators on the liberal side also. (I am liberal)
    The language being used in our politcal discourse is way too ugly, it’s time to bring some civility and respect back. Name calling and taunts just make us all look stupid, and if one can’t debate issues without debasing someone, maybe they should get some ‘time in the corner’ to think about what they’re doing. As my Grandma used to say, ‘If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.’

  4. Nor should it be accepted. Ms. Fluke was speaking on behalf of a student advocacy group and at no time discussed her own sex life, if any (and often law students don’t have time or strength for one). Out of nothing but malice and vitriol, Rush repeatedly imputed unchastity, promiscuity, and actual prostitution to this otherwise private citizen, and demanded she post sex tapes of herself. As a result of this obloquy, Pamela Geller and her retinue have loudly demanded that this citizen testifying to Congress be sexually mutilated, photoshopped photos of a scandalous nature have been posted about her, and her career, physical integrity, and life have all been placed at risk. This is not humor. It is NOT. It is a very serious case of civil defamation, at a minimum, and under the Florida Statutes, such an imputation to a woman is criminal libel. Ms. Fluke is neither Mr. Limbaugh’s first victim nor his most vulnerable, and unless he is deprived of his forum, will not be his last. It’s time to put a stop to this before his rhetoric incites real violence.

  5. I would add that as Mr. Limbaugh maintains a residence in Palm Beach County and his utterances are broadcast in the state, the said criminal libel statute certainly is applicable.

  6. I agree with the above and to be intellectually honest, we have to start speaking up when the left wing idiots shoot off their mouths. There is good news. According to HP, some of the big corporations are getting a little worried about their reputations. They are saying they don’t want their ads run on any program which might run offensive or controversial material. That will need some fine tuning, but it is a start.

  7. Thank you for this article and for articulating what I have been floundering to say. I am active in the Twitter #BoycottRush #StopRush campaign. Bill Maher, Ed Schultz, and even David Letterman have been thrown at me. Well, everyone knows that Shultz made one crude comment, offered a sincere apology, was suspended for a week, and has not repeated the gaffe. Letterman broke the story of his infidelity before his would be extortionist could do it, apologized, and being Letterman, really doesn’t give a “rat’s ass” anyway.
    If Maher wants to be a player in the Democratic Party by giving large donations and hosting fund-raisers, such as the upcoming Alabama Democratic Party “Evening with Bill,” then he needs to clean up his act. Ideally he would stop using misogynistic language because it’s wrong, just like degrading racist language is wrong. Surely he can effectively insult someone like Palin without descending to language that degrades all women. After all he’s a comic genius. Why be so lazy? Just last week, while the controversy raged, he tweeted a joke about Gingrich which took a jab at Anna Nicole Smith. Fortunately I haven’t read one comment about it. It alarmed me though. Anna Nicole Smith was certainly an object of derision for perhaps valid reasons, but now she is dead. She was an extremely troubled woman at the time of her death from a drug overdose and left a motherless infant behind. What a low blow to take a shot at her! I would just consider it crude and in extremely poor taste if Maher wasn’t becoming so politically active.
    Last night,during his program, Maher said this is a 1st Amendment issue and he opposes censorship. He’s wrong! No one is threatening Limbaugh’s 1st Amendment rights. We are simply exercising our 1st Amendment rights to protest Limbaugh’s misogyny. This is a free market issue, not a 1st Amendment issue. The market cannot bear the price Limbaugh is charging.
    I really hope that Maher wakes up and understands how important this is. I understand that he doesn’t want to restrain himself. That’s fine. I hope that he will realize that if he doesn’t want to hurt Obama’s re-election campaign that he needs to make a choice and either clean up his act or stay far away from the campaign. There are many disgruntled women in the GOP whose votes are valuable if we can get them. I think it’s important to show that Democrats respect and care about women and the issues that affect them. I hope that Maher doesn’t become a liability because he doesn’t understand that we are all responsible for what we say, even entertainers and comedians.

  8. Oh my – I dashed off my diatribe, hit submit, and now I don’t know if you should publish it. Why point out the Anna Nicole Smith jab and make it into something since no one has commented mentioned it? Yikes! Please feel free to delete.
    Thanks.

  9. It’s interesting that none of you have stated Ms. Fluke’s involvement in all of this. She was “testifying” in a fake hearing created by Nancy Pelosi. She was denied access to the real hearing for 2 reasons. One, she submitted her request too late and two her testimony was not relevant to the hearing. You see, contrary to what Ms. Pelosi and you other liberals have tried to make it into, this whole thing is about this administration unconstitutionally trying to mandate to a religious organization the way they can freely exercise their religion. No one is trying to prohibit anyone from getting contraceptives. It’s only when the government tries to tell a religious org. to pay for it against their long-held beliefs that there is a problem. Ms. Fluke was just hired by Ms. Pelosi to try to continue the lie.

  10. Well said. I cringe each time one of the people you mention and many other supposed entertainers crack a joke where the supposed humor is based on gender or on physical appearance. There is plenty to say about Rush or Chris Christie without calling them fat and plenty of ways to make fun of Palin without resorting to four letter words or comments about her children.

  11. People on the left and right need to take notice that misogynistic rants and other hate speech should stop. We need to be able to shake our opponents hands and, yes…hug them. For my fellow liberals who think that left pundits don’t do it, Google it. Limbaugh is the granddaddy of hate speech but some of his grandsons are liberals. …and liberals, 3/11/12 is Hug a Limbaugh Supporter Day so y’all get out there and hug one!

  12. Now that is about as hilarious as it gets! The “House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee ” is not fake.

    Why don’t you address the fact that 19 states had the same law and the Catholics never said a word until Obama did? Nice little set up. Also, the church had its own exceptions that is lived under and never said a word.

    Sorry, your propaganda doesn’t cut the mustard. Fluke was not hired by Pelosi. Did you get that from Hannity, Beck or Rush?

  13. Are you aware that Georgetown insurance policies cover birth control for employees? And are you also aware that the Catholic bishops were perfectly OK with the insurance companies paying the cost of BC coverage on the student policies involved? The right-wing media personalities keep trying to convince their listeners that taxpayer money is involved somehow, and that the Catholic Church is being forced by Obama to buy birth control.

  14. Nor does this excuse for an excuse even address the issue. Even if what Bob said were true, Limbaugh’s comments were neither about the validity of the committee taking testimony nor the qualifications of the witness. They were gross imputations of unchastity and accusations of prostitution to a young woman, made out of malice and without grounds or knowledge, the type of speech for which the law has never required the showing of actual damage, but which has already resulted in threats of grave bodily harm to Ms. Fluke. So much as a sincere apology has never been offered; instead, the defamation was reiterated. Even if subjected to every civil and criminal penalty the law can inflict, Rush would be getting off lightly. The Hammurabic Code demanded that men who talked like that be beaten unconscious, castrated, and sold as slaves.

  15. Actually, if you took the time to understand the facts you would know that the law SPECIFICALLY EXEMPTS RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS from those mandates. the mandates are on the insurance companies to provide the services.

  16. Reynardine, That Hammurabic Code thing sounds great! Well,
    not the last part, but, the first
    two parts, absolutely. I’m going
    to be ordering the T-shirt.

  17. This is not censorship, which by all standards is about government silencing of ALL someone says. This is about challenging Rush’s – or anyone’s – right to have an extreme platform upon which to stand. The boycott is an expression of OUR free speech rights. We can and have chosen NOT to patronize corporations that send our consumer dollars to people who use them to spew hateful remarks over the airways. Everyone is guaranteed free speech. No one is guaranteed a nationwide forum in which to exercise that speech. If advertisers choose to honor ALL of us without question, that IS a market decision. Since Rush lives by the market principles, the highest form of good in his opinion, then let him be impacted by them as well.

    When Maher calls it censorship, he is totally wrong. It’s pushback. It’s our free speech setting a standard. It’s the province of the spoiled left as much as the angry right to decide all speech THEY utter is sacred while ours is – eh. The Left pontificates against hate crimes – not thought but deeds – on the grounds that they “punish thought”. No. They punish harm done to others with terroristic implications for others. All crimes go to motive, and when the motive is to stop others from acting on their rights, it has a community-wide implication, hence the enhancements.

    Only those who NEVER come under the threat from hate extremists -as Maher thinks his speech don’t stink – will defend to their last breath the “right” of extremists to be protected AGAINST US. If the government were censoring Rush, Maher, anyone, maybe Maher would have a point, but it’s NOT censorship for us to reject the special status of hateful people. If Maher’s afraid he will be affected – well, maybe he will. The drumbeat for good judgement and responsible acts and discussions is healthy.

    Social critique just HAS to mean more than dropping drawers in public and mooning your audience while uttering foul curses upon them. If this does, in fact, amount to smacking Rush to make Maher et al. behave better, then so be it. Neither and no one is being silenced. They can and will keep talking. But we have the right to NOT listen, and so do advertisers. For those heavy into “personal responsibility” this IS the time to take it. Grow up or take the consequences. That IS the American way.

  18. Worst Persons in the World has been suspended, and voluntarily, I might add. Kindly do not place Keith Olbermann in the same category as either Rush Limbaugh or Bill Maher. I’m not saying he doesn’t make mistakes, but when he does, most of the time he sees them and apologizes/corrects them. Can’t say the same for either of the other two.

  19. Watch out, Bob..your brainwashed ignorance is showing. Thanks for giving us an example of what listening to hate filled lies does to the psyche.

  20. It’s further the case that anyone testifying in either house of Congress before sitting legislators is not giving testimony to a “faked” committee, and their own testimony can only be called “fake” if fabricated. Imputations of open-forum perjury are those of felony, and not to be made lightly, either.

  21. Great post, Yellow Dog Yankee, and I agree with everything, short of threatening the loss of broadcast licenses. Rush on his best day inspires nausea but I’ll defend his right to spew, no matter what he says because it’s a fundamental principle of democracy. It’s one of the reasons that so many people from all over the world want to emmigrate here and why the United States has lasted over 200 years. Yes, I find it appalling that so many people tune in to his show but let’s not underestimate Americans in general. I think the majority of us are discerning enough to sort out what is true and what is plain hate filled, ignorant tripe.

  22. John – Where does the insurance company get the money to cover birth control for subscribers employed by religious organizations?

  23. And before anyone jumps on Shiva’s comment with an “and who pays the premium” reply, please note that many employers, associations, and universities offer their employees, members, or students group policies which afford them the economies of scale but do not contribute to the cost.

  24. Methinks you protest too much. Whether you believe him or or not (your problem, not his) an apology was offered. Ms.Fluke is a pro-abortion activist who is intent on changing Georgetown because she doesn’t like the way they think. (I don’t understand why she went there)The “hearing” was a sham and a farce. Pelosi’s comments since then have underscored this. Oh, FYI the Target store 3 miles from Goergetown is said to have contraceptives for $9 per month.(that’s $324 for 3 years) And why no questions about all the unprotected sex they are wanting to have? Or do condoms not count as contraceptive devises any more?

  25. Well, Bob, I thought I heard a rat rattlind dishes in the dining room. It’s interesting to find you in here trolling away after everyone has left the room and turned out the lights. What’s the matter? Don’t you have the guts to bother live people?

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