There is no such thing as a good-natured discussion between people with diametrically opposing political views. It may start out civilized, a couple of pointed jabs at the other’s stupidity, but it rarely ends up that way. When the gloves are off politically, people come wearing brass knuckles and usually start with a sucker punch to the mid-section. It resembles a schoolyard dust-up – almost guaranteed someone’s ego will end up with a bloody nose or scraped knee. Often it seems the battle is begun for the sheer delight of rabble-rousing, a tactic taken by many conservative political pundits.
Watching these boors kick the politically weak and socially vulnerable is a spectacle for the legions of the entitled who feel women, minorities, and gays are conspiring with fate to diminish their good fortune. It is an unfortunate byproduct of a socially atomized culture bereft of strong bonds of civility. The readily apparent divisions of race, nationality, and gender are easy fodder for dubious hucksters looking to manipulate the political discourse at the behest of political masters who profit handsomely from perpetual disharmony.
The role of obnoxious provocateur to high-minded liberals is the schtick of people like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or Anne Coulter and they knock that ball out of the park most every time. As a detested liberal, I find the provocation intellectually stimulating. The unbridled sanctimony is analogous to the thrill of skydiving or cliff jumping. After talking myself off the righteous ledge I come to the sane assessment that these provocateurs believe less than a quarter of the bullshit they hurl from their mouth. The other three quarters of the polemic, fabulist drivel that oozes from their orifice is served up to pay the rent. It seems foolish to take any of it seriously.
Recently however, Rush Limbaugh went on a bender at the conservative trough. He drank keg-loads of the Kool-Aid and got woozy from the faux-machismo gun-play and insecure masculinity-inspired gay-bashing. When it came time for him to speak on his radio show last week he was still slurring his speech, bouncing off the walls with Social Darwinist euphoria. He had not taken his meds to settle the tempest in his oral sphincter before he stepped to the microphone for his daily polemical bowel movement.
When he opened the jaws to the entrance of his ethical abyss, out came massive case of the rhetorical runs. Again. The rest of us were left reeling from the mess of verbal diarrhea unleashed. And it stinks to high heaven. It was as putrid as a pig barn in the Alabama heat. Against my better judgement, I can’t resist throwing a little turd of my own in response.
Last week, a witness named Sandra Fluke testified before a House Committee to advocate for a motion to ensure health care plans for college students included benefits to cover the cost of medical contraception for female plan subscribers. It seems some religious-based institutions such as Georgetown University, which Ms Fluke attends, have health plans that do not pay for contraception, ostensibly on the basis their use is exclusively in the furtherance of birth control. I hate to throw a scientific wet blanket on yet another line of reasoning implying sex among consenting adults is “bad,” but conditions like polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, and acute PMS are are also controlled by prescribed medical contraceptives. Medically-speaking, oral contraceptives are not exclusively about their utility in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Though even if they were, who the hell cares? These are not children using them.
In response to Ms Fluke’s testimony, Rush Limbaugh likened the effort to the advocacy of public funding of prostitution:
What does it say about the college coed Susan [sic] Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.
She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.
The johns, that’s right. We would be the johns — no! We’re not the johns. Well — yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word.
OK, so, she’s not a slut. She’s round-heeled. I take it back.
In her testimony Fluke recounted the story of a student, who happened to be gay, who needed birth control to manage ovarian cysts but who could not afford the medication and could not convince her institution’s health plan that she required it. Ms Fluke is obviously Liberal. And Intelligent. And a friend to Gays. These political sensitivities are the trifecta of ideological blasphemy for far-right conservative dipshits like Limbaugh. According to Limbaugh, she is merely a “slut” who wants health plans to pay for her prostituting ways. Given he is the raging cocksucker in this debacle I would suggest the pot is calling the kettle black.
Limbaugh and his ilk are lightning rods who go for the scorched earth approach to political discourse over these kinds of issues. They rankle and rile the indignant Liberals with totally mindless, grossly offensive issue-baiting, and pluck out shards of elitism in the reactions; the high-minded righteous indignation for the masses to behold. They pander to the inner reptile among the most suggestible, infantile of their constituents – few in number but vociferous in their reactionism – scaring them so badly they will demand guns and posses to defend America from gays, illegal aliens, Muslims, and Liberals.
As a black man, I am well aware of how well this stuff works. I have had white folks hiding their watermelons, clinging to their wallets, and locking up their sexually curious white daughters when I was around. A demagogue imbues minds with bigoted myths and legends by repeating the same lies about any evil bogeymen they can fabricate. Eventually the herds will beg the fearless leader to do whatever he asserts is required to keep the scapegoats away.
It works by flooding our evolutionary sub-conscious with images and ideas that instill fear and insecurity in the part of our brain tracing its roots to the days when we had gills and dorsal fins; the part we should not be tapping into when we cast our votes, or gather our views on any political issue. That is, unless we are being pursued as dinner by a whale-shark or pack of hyenas. Then giving the keys to our inner reptile to manage our affairs is sensible. ‘Run’ is about the best advice the reptile can muster and in the right context it is laudable. Aside from those scenarios, for those of us residing in an ostensibly civil society, the best approach to guide one’s behaviour is to let the reptilian part of the brain relax and appeal to the inner executive. Of course, this is the exact opposite of what these pundits want. They want the legions to harness their inner reptile and they will feed it with morsels of the most foul meal to draw him out.
This wedge method has been an extremely effective political strategy for those able to turn their noses far enough upwind to unleash it into the stream of political discourse. In the US, far right pundits and their fellow millionaires have convinced millions of disenfranchised Americans who have no business supporting the platforms of people who would just as soon send they and their kind up the river for a buck. Insofar as they follow Limbaugh, or the Tea Partiers or Gingrich, their political preferences are counter to their actual interests in almost every way. It is so utterly baffling to any sensible political observer.
Many real conservative thinkers rightly abhor these pundits, but are caught in a jam: they bring in votes from people who, if they weren’t so dang enamored by the dog-and-pony shows that Limbaugh and company put on, would never, in a million years vote for people who share no common cause with them. It’s a crap shoot, because Limbaugh, Beck, and Coulter sometimes go too far in their desire to entertain, to provoke. Their inner fish comes out for all to behold and leaves many shaking their heads, usually in disgust. People otherwise rallied by tough-guy, ‘what-me-worry’ tenor of the rants start to wonder about how principled these pundits really are. They may start to catch on to the idea that maybe, just maybe Rush and his crass minions are totally full of shit.
How is it Americans are not pissed off about people like Limbaugh trying to suck every ounce of greatness from their country for a few bucks and some entertainment value? Why aren’t real conservatives lining up to shit-kick these rubes for co-opting their brand and turning it into a Jerry Springer version of genuine conservatism? Instead of presenting a viable alternative to liberalism they single out marginalized groups – gays, women, immigrants, or whoever – and trivialize the role of American democracy in addressing legitimate issues by cracking mean-spirited jokes at their expense. For them it’s an entertaining way to make a buck. For everyone else, not so much.
Rush Limbaugh’s response to Sandra Fluke’s testimony on this particular issue was beyond the pale. In this instance, Limbaugh really threw off his fat-suit and showed up in his brown-shirted wife beaters to spew his verbal diarrhea. It’s shocking how disproportionately offensive his remarks were; how utterly misogynistic in nature.
He skipped the stock rants about how everyone shouldn’t be expected to pay for the livelihood of others as all Stalinists would have it, blah, blah, blah. Instead, he whipped out his limp-dick, raised up his back hand and politically raped Sandra Fluke. The nature of his reaction to her testimony; it’s suspicious, isn’t it? Slut? Prostitute? Pimps? It was a warning to others like her. With his vitriol he was trying to beat her back to the kitchen or the brothel, where women belong, right?
And here’s the thing: it may be easy to get large swaths on board your crazy train when you’re singling out Mexicans or homosexuals as victims for your latest tirade. Sad, but all too often, true. However, most folks have a woman in their family – their wife, daughter, sister. Most women, even if they love Rush Limbaugh, or are leery of gays, don’t want a jerk like Rush Limbaugh calling them a slut based on the decisions they make over their health needs. Most men don’t want dicks like Rush Limbaugh to be judge and jury when it comes to the rights their wives, sisters, or daughters enjoy in America, even if they agree that everyone ought to have a gun in their glovebox. There’s a line, isn’t there?
Here’s another smelly nub squeezed out of Limbaugh’s anus/mouth:
If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch,” he said on Thursday. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-17241803
Rush didn’t see a third year law student advocating for women’s health rights. He didn’t even see a despised liberal. He saw some chick who deigned to assert her democratic rights in Congress. Maybe you agree, maybe you disagree with her position. That’s not the point. You don’t try and bitch-slap someone from taking part in the democratic process by singling her out as a woman for a woefully sexist attack. It’s revealing about how Rush Limbaugh views the place of women in a democracy. This isn’t defensible from any standpoint: conservative, liberal, or whatever. Check that. It’s defensible if you’re a fascist-minded, misogynist. My bad.
Here’s the insidious thing about this whole incident: the next time a woman, a private citizen, is invited to testify at a House Committee to express a ‘liberal’ view on a women’s issue will she have to brace for this sort of personal attack in response? Would a dude be subjected to this kind of criticism for democratically expressing his views?
What Rush has done has put the fascist chill into democracy by publicly bashing a citizen for having the gall to participate in the democratic process. And he’s done so by purporting to play for the conservative team. I don’t know, I think conservatives could do without this guy in their lineup. I know they can. And they should.
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