Monday, 12 March 2012

There's freedom of speech, but...

For years, I have tried to figure out what the allure of Rush Limbaugh is to the far right wing Conservatives in the US, and to some degree in Canada.  He is am oft-insulting, semi-convicted confessed drug abuser who doesn't appear to care about anyone but himself.  He is blinded by the fact that neither of the two major political parties in the US is innocent, yet to hear him speak the liberal leaning Democrats are what is wrong with this world while the conservative leaning Republicans are the saviours of the way of life of the US.  Yet, he fails to comprehend that both sides have created just as many problems as solutions.

Limbaugh has a history of saying things that are untrue in order to gain attention to himself and his show.

In 2006 he claimed that Michael J. Fox was over exaggerating his Parkinson's symptoms when he was lobbying for stem cell research.  As usual, Fox was nothing but the gentleman, not getting into what could have been a tit-for-tat, disturbing argument that was being carried on between Limbaugh and the mainstream media.

In 2007 he referred to President Obama as "Barack the Magic Negro."

Also in 2007, he referred to soldiers who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan who had issues with the war as "phony soldiers."  Soldiers who had done what they were told, deployed to countries on the other side of the world whether they wanted to or not, Limbaugh belittled with this attitude.

Limbaugh has repeatedly and vocally maintained the he hopes for nothing other than the failure of Obama's presidency.

Two thousand and six was the height of Limbaugh's hypocrisy.  After three years, he was charged with prescription drug fraud and was outed as a prescription drug addict.  But Limbaugh was given what is normally given to rich, white, men in these situations - when he continued drug abuse treatment they dropped the charges.  Now, if Limbaugh had been a black man or even a poor white man or a Hispanic man, I highly doubt that they would have just charged him with one count when he had, apparently, involved six doctors, but they also would have given him some sort of sentence.  In fact, I'm willing to bet that Limbaugh himself would have been screaming that this person be sentenced to jail time to teach him a lesson.  Yet the rules, as usual, are different for Limbaugh.

This time, however, things seem to have ended differently.

For those that haven't heard, this story actually begins in a way that doesn't involve Mr Limbaugh at all.  The American government is attempting to create laws that would force all employers to cover birth control options within their medical plans.  This has, of course, created a lot of controversy from the side of the faith-based employers whose faith does not support artificial birth control (such as the Catholic church), who do not wish to be forced to do something against their beliefs.  There is plenty of passion on both sides of the issue.  Passion is fine.  Where the line was crossed, however, came after a young woman testified in front of congress about why she believes that the government should carry forward with their plan to implement this bill.

Upon testifying, this young woman then had her character completely vilified by Limbaugh.  She was called a slut and a prostitute for wanting her health plan to cover birth control.  Limbaugh then also claimed that by wanting her plan to cover birth control she was in effect asking to be paid to have sex and therefore he wanted something in return - he wanted her to video tape her sex acts and post them online.

To state and request something so incredibly vulgar has gone so much further than Limbaugh has ever gone before.  And finally, it appears, that his advertisers and the public in general has looked up and started paying attention to what this man is putting on the air waves.

Finally, advertisers have started to withdraw their money from his show.  Finally, corporations and people have started standing up and saying "Enough is enough!"

Companies such as Geico, Netflix, Goodwill, AOL, Citrix, Quicken Loans, the Girl Scouts of Oregon & Southwest Washington (why were they putting paid advertisements on the radio - on any show - anyway?), the Philadelphia Orchestra, JC Penney, Capital One, Sears, John Deere and many, many smaller, local companies have pulled their ads.

It is not lost on me, however, that of the companies coming to Limbaugh's defense (stating "well, he apologized!") are companies such as - a company which fixes up women with "sugar daddies."  I have my own beliefs about the types of women who troll those sites looking for an easy ride through life, but that is neither here nor there.  Also, I do not have access to public airwaves, some of which are funded by public monies, to share my opinions.  Nor would I call these women the things that Limbaugh called this young law student from Washington, D.C.

I have to wonder, however - when things calm down, when Rush Limbaugh is (albeit temporary) out of the spotlight, will these sponsors quietly slip their ads back in to his show?  Will they maintain the stand they have now taken and keep their advertisements from the air time within his show?

I then have to compare this to another recent event in which advertisements were pulled from a not-so-mainstream show.  There was so many people who were thrilled when Lowes and others pulled their ads from All American Muslim.  The faith based communities in the southern US did all they could do to have the advertisements and the show removed from the air.  Now, the show was pulled in the end, due to low ratings.  However, I'm failing to comprehend how a show that did nothing more than show and tell the world how normal the average American Muslim's life is was able to garner so much protest - a show that had barely a fraction of the advertising dollars or viewers/listeners of the Rush Limbaugh show, that didn't advocate hate, that didn't name call vile names - whereas a show that is publicly subsidized on Armed Forces Radio, a show that refers to women who choose birth control as sluts and prostitutes, a show that vocally and regularly calls for the failure of the government, a show that regularly demeans and promotes Islamophobia, a show that is just so hate filled, how has it been on the air for so long?

By keeping Limbaugh on the air, the Premiere Radio Networks is telling America that it's okay to hate liberals, Democrats, anyone who's not a white, upper middle class/upper class, conservative Christian, and it's especially okay to hate them if they are Muslim, Arab, Poor or Atheist.

Eventually, we all need to stand up and say enough is enough and get the hatred off the air.

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