*The hue and cry for Rush Limbaugh’s head in a tagine (a heavy clay earthenware pot with a dome shaped lid) is fitting. When a fool rushes into the fire, his goose should be fricasseed. Please forgive me for the pun – it’s just the “foodie” in me that loves to toss in a few food analogies when I take a moment to dish.
When he called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” following her testimony before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in support of her Jesuit law school providing contraception coverage in its student health plan, he didn’t blink or stutter. After all, it’s part of his shtick to be irreverent, snaky, and foul-mouthed. He didn’t give his rant a second thought or lose a wink of sleep over it. Besides, it’s all in the name of entertainment, lashing out with the venom and rage that has made him, well, famous.
But he’s now simmering in his own chicken stew following those nasty remarks. The call for his head has been getting so loud and the mounting list of those he has pissed off is getting so deep, he had to repent for this transgression.
Said Limbaugh in the most anemic apology of his career, “My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
Forget the national stir he caused. It’s what he does daily, unchecked and without much reprisal – until now. He could give a rat’s ass about causing a stir of any kind. It’s the public backlash and the loss of advertising revenue that has brought him to the confessional. Advertisers have begun abandoning his show as it takes in more water. They aren’t the mom and pop business either. When companies like AOL, Sears, Geico, Netflix, ProFlowers, Legal Zoom and Allstate say we are outta here, that’s a notable owie.
I don’t know if there is any redemption from calling a woman a “slut” and a “prostitute” – let alone hurling those insults on a nationally syndicated radio show to over 15 million listeners – then to have your comments rip through social media exponentially and irrepressibly by millions as well. And I don’t know if there is any recovery from using an advertiser sponsored program as a bully pulpit to exact such damning, personal and public attacks against a college student for heaven’s sake in the name of entertainment. Hey if it were his ex-wives (I hear he’s had four) or ex-girl friends people might not be in this big of a twist. But he doesn’t even know Ms. Fluke. His remarks were a flat out assault against a young woman simply because he disagreed with her position.
So what did Limbaugh do or what was he compelled to do because of the crushing weight of public opinion? He apologized yet again and this time he tried to sound more contrite. But efforts to have him removed from the air are being ratcheted up with numerous online petitions making their way through social media. And if the recent events attesting to the power of social media to check and remove a few public figures for their remarks and behavior are in play in this case, the clamor on the internet will be hard for the remaining advertisers to ignore. In fact I’ve received several Facebook petition requests to remove Limbaugh from the airwaves already. One that might gain some legs is on the White House web site under a new petition section of the site. This petition says:
“Sec. Panetta, Get Rush Limbaugh Off Armed Forces Radio NOW! No tax money for abusive, divisive, insulting language.
It is not bad enough that he provides partisan blather, that he demeans our President. He has regularly demeaned women.
His remarks this week were well beyond the pale of what should be broadcast to our military and their families, supported with our tax dollars.
We have a moral objection to our tax dollars being used for such a purpose.
You should move immediately to cancel any further broadcast through government facilities of his venom.
There is no excuse for the US Government, in any capacity, giving this man an audience.
It is an insult to the honorable men and women who serve this nation”
Rush Limbaugh has every right to disagree with Ms. Fluke’s position on contraception coverage. But he doesn’t have the right to latch on to her like rabid pit bull then demean, degrade, disparage and insult her. He has clearly crossed the line with his sense of unbridled entitlement, antics and buffoonery. If he’s given a slap on the risk, what’s next? Calling the President the N-word over the airwaves?
So far a few stations have dropped Limbaugh from their programming schedule. But with over 600 radio stations carrying his show across the United States, this loss is barely a skin “prick” even though he is.
There’s a good bit of heat under the tagine that holds his head. Here’s hoping it gets a lot hotter now that the fool has rushed in.
Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. She is the owner of Bromont Avenue Foods. She is the author of “Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning Heart Healthy Recipes.” Visit http://bromontavefoods.com for more information. For comments, interviews, speaking engagements or moderator requests please send an email to [email protected].