Ok, Rush vs. Maher, etc.
Bill Maher is a stand-up comic who does political comedy. Bill is sardonic, crude, intentionally offensive or provocative. But he is a comedian. He doesn't hold himself to be anything but a comedian. He certainly doesn't represent himself as the liberal voice of America or a guiding light of the Democratic Party. He also goes well out of his way to have major conservative and Republican representatives on his show so that they have a chance to defend themselves and/or speak about their concerns, ideologies and solutions.
Letterman has also been thrown at me today. Dave Letterman is a comedian and talk-show host. It is not a political talk-show - it is an entertainment talk show with an eye toward comedy. Letterman does not represent himself as a spokesman for anything and he, too, has given many conservatives and Republicans opportunity to use his show as a platform.
Limbaugh is not a stand-up comic, unless I missed him in Vegas or Branson or his many appearances on the Tonight Show. His show is political 24/7 or at least every time I have listened. And I do listen to his show. Not religiously because he nauseates me, but I listen to hear what conservatives may be discussing, what issues and concerns, etc. And I also listen to major conservative talk hosts and pundits like OReilly, Hannity, Larry Elder, Michael Medved and Dennis Prager. I sometimes listen to Dennis Miller who is actually still very funny - bravo, Dennis. I listen because of a few reasons...
A. I am not, despite all the accusations, a died in the wool liberal/progressive. I have voted for many Republicans in my day when I thought they were superior candidates. And I hold many positions that would generally be considered more conservative than not - gun rights, death penalty, immigration policy, penal system, some foreign affairs, are just a small example.
B. I am actually interested in intelligent discourse from people with whom I don't readily agree. The problem with Twitter and social media is that it tends to invite language and rudeness and a lack of civility that I hope would not occur in actual, face-to-face human interaction. I enjoy great discussions about issues that effect all of us, especially when the goal of the discussion is to inform and to seek areas of agreement and compromise. I fervently believe that, despite polls, America is fairly evenly divided into conservative and liberal camps (the history of our elections bears that out) and that this notion of "annihilating" the other side means the destruction of the souls of half our country is a terrible thing. I believe our national health lies in the middle. But listening to the opposition is necessary for fruitful discussion.
All this said, my impression of Limbaugh is not that he thinks he is an entertainer and certainly not a comedian. He projects himself as a leading thinker and kingmaker among conservatives and Republicans. He holds himself as the representative of the very best of conservative thought and his show is meant to be taken as very serious discourse. And that opinion has been reflected on more than one occasion within the Republican Party itself.
So, he must be held at a higher standard than Bill Maher and David Letterman. Especially when, unlike them, he does not invite voices of dissent onto his program except on the rarest of occasion and then does not allow them a real opportunity to speak. I don't glory in Maher's and Letterman's offensiveness when it surfaces even though I generally share what seems to be their political inclinations. I don't glory in offensive speech. I don't think the way to engage people is to start by offending them to the core. I think people do that when they can't actually defend their positions in a desperate effort to make the other side just go away. But again, what Rush says he is and what Maher/Letterman say they are are very, very different. Hence, a different standard.
Rush defamed a decent young woman who was merely testifying about a contradiction of policy within her university regarding health care coverage for contraception. She was testifying that, in this Jesuit run institution, coverage for contraception was extended to faculty but not to students who are required to have health care coverage. That is a very real contradiction and it was the crux of her testimony. Why Limbaugh did not take up that issue but instead characterized her as demanding others pay for her contraception to have more sex is actually an out and out misrepresentation of her testimony. And since the vast majority of his listeners do not watch or listen to congressional testimony, that impression is taken as fact - which it is not. Then to characterize that false representation with defamation by calling her a slut and a prostitute and saying he chose the wrong words, for humor, is just irresponsible and lame. It is not the act of a man of conviction who has the power of truth at his call.
That is why I condemn Limbaugh - for this and for the many other times he has done the exact same thing. And by the way, this woman isn't even a public figure. She is just a citizen testifying for Congress. So what is Rush's lesson - hey, Citizens I Don't Agree With, I will slam you on national programming given half a chance, especially if no one hears you in the first place? He is a very small man. He should in fact, be ashamed and contrite - not for thinking contraception shouldn't be covered in health care - that is a debatable issue - but for his complete misrepresentation of an issue, an event and a person. There is no forgiving him, especially when he doesn't even acknowledge the wrong.
This has been a long winded tweet. There will be many on the right who will now lambast me, tell me to shut up, call me names or say that "the left is just as bad". I will not answer that drivel nor do I think saying "your side stinks, too" excuses this man. Supposedly, the right has a majority of religious people with high-minded morals and ideals. I would think that decency is amongst them. Mr Limbaugh has again acted indecently and that is what we/I are/am saying. No more, no less.