Joe Peyronnin – NYU Journalism Professor
Posted: 03/ 1/2012 11:59 pm
Rush Limbaugh is a national disgrace. He is a blowhard and a bully who earns an enormous amount of money by fanning the flames of hatred and divisiveness in this country.
The tragedy is that several million people listen to his program and actually believe he is an intelligent, responsible and caring person. Even more outrageous is the fact that he has most Republicans so cowed that they are unwilling to speak out against him when he says something disgusting and maliciously hateful.
On Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh decided to take on a college student, someone’s daughter, for supporting a requirement that health insurance cover contraception. He called Sandra Fluke, a 23-year-old Georgetown law student, a “slut” on his radio broadcast.
On Thursday, Limbaugh continued his attack. “A Georgetown coed told (Congresswoman) Nancy Pelosi’s hearing that the women in her law school program are having so much sex they’re going broke. So you and I should have to pay for their birth control. So what would you call that? I called it what it is,” he harrumphed. “So I am offering as compromise today: I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want.”
The “aspirin between their knees” reference was obviously Limbaugh’s tribute to Santorum supporter Foster Friess, who left MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell stunned on her program last week when he outrageously made the suggestion as an alternative to contraception.
But Limbaugh was not done with his tirade: “So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. 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.”
Later on Thursday, 75 members of Congress sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner expressing their anger at Limbaugh’s remarks and calling for Republican leaders to speak out. But the Republican Party appears to have a tin ear when it comes to women’s health issues, especially contraception.
Leading Republican candidates are against having the federal government require employers to provide access to certain health care coverage, including contraception. An attempt by Republicans to pass such an amendment in the Senate on Thursday was defeated. The Republicans are trying to spin this an issue of the federal government trying to interfere with religious freedom and the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has long forbidden the use of contraceptives. However, most Democrats say the underlying issue is giving women access to the health care they need.
Now this debate has become central in the Republican presidential primary. Candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney (after a brief flip-flop) supported the Republican amendment that went down to defeat. And Santorum, a Catholic, has been very clear about his view on contraception. “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country,” he has said. “Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
But it appears that Santorum has staked out a position on contraception at odds with most women. 99% of all American women, and 98% of all Catholic women in the United States, have used contraception at some point in their lives according to published statistics. For most of them it is a health issue.
However, don’t try telling that to Rush Limbaugh. He is having too much fun harshly attacking a young lady for speaking her heartfelt opinion about an issue of concern to all women. It is a wonder that any advertisers support Limbaugh and his debasing rants.
The world would be so much better off if Limbaugh put two aspirin between his lips and he kept them there!
Follow Joe Peyronnin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joepeyronnin