Dear Rush Limbaugh:
Where did respect for women go? Who taught you manners?
And...would your mothers be proud of you for all the "entertainment" you've provided, at women's expense, through the decades?
I put you in the same category with Don Imus. Two men with no "EDIT" button on their brains or mouths. Venom in, venom out. You are both married. Did you ever ask your wives...any one of the six between you....what they thought of your show?
Rush, your exact words were the following, according to the Associated Press and the Washington Post:
“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.”
He also called Fluke a “slut” and a prostitute after she argued that birth control should be covered by health insurance at religious institutions.”
I'm a woman, a professional writer, and hopefully, respected in the communities I choose to work in. And I find myself angered and defensive. That, by definition, is "incendiary talk."
And though you have "apologized," I think that the New York Times reported it best when Limbaugh’s critics dismissed his apology as having been "forced by the advertiser pressure." He was on the attack for three days. And he didn't apologize until AFTER advertisers started to leave. That's one reason why it didn't resonate. Here's another: even as of today, he remained petulant and defiant in that he did not say three words that would have stopped the dialogue--"I was wrong."
And I also wholeheartedly agree with Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. The Times quoted her, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” when she said, “I know he apologized, but forgive me, I doubt his sincerity, given that he lost at least six advertisers.” (Note: as of Monday, the total was eight or nine).
And I find I'm not the only writer who sees the similarities between the Limbaugh and Imus situations. The Post article cited reporter Paul Farhi equates the fire storm with the one that overtook Don Imus in 2007:
“In all, the controversy surrounding Limbaugh is beginning to look like the one that engulfed Imus.
The one-time shock jock’s radio career has never fully recovered after he referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” on his syndicated morning program in 2007.
The comment ignited a firestorm of complaints and protests, which Imus initially dismissed. When advertisers scattered in the face of the public reaction, Imus offered a more sweeping apology but was subsequently fired by CBS Radio and MSNBC, which had also broadcast his program.”
In 2007, I raked Imus, the former MSNBC broadcaster, over the coals in a Token Female column on YourSportsFan.com for his disrespectful treatment of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights women's basketball team after he called them "nappy-headed hoes," among other coarse-mouthed names he had no business calling them. And just like Rush, sponsors fled his MSNBC show, and he was eventually fired, despite his mealy-mouthed promises to be a "force for positive change."
By December of that year, Imus was back in business-- picked up by RFD-TV and ABC Radio. And now, he's at Fox Business Network. How appropriate. Did he learn anything? Well, I think Imus thinks he has. After all, on his "Imus In The Morning," show, Imus went off on Rush Limbaugh's weekend apology to Sandra Fluke, calling Limbaugh a "fat, gutless, pill-popping loser." Hmmm. He attacked Rush, that's for sure. I give him credit for having the guts to apologize to the Rutgers women personally and sincerely. That said, something's still lacking. I'm not hearing Imus say much in defense of the woman or her right to her beliefs and right to testify. Or that she didn't deserve to be called a slut or a prostitute. Did I miss something?
By the way, most of those "nappy headed hoes" Imus insulted have gone on to successful careers in the WNBA, including the Chicago Sky's own All-Star, Epiphanny Prince, Kia Vaughn and Essence Carson, who both have played for the New York Liberty. and in Europe.
As I said in my column back then (I wish it were still online)...there is a fine line between "humorous" and "degrading." Last week, the debate on Chicago Now's pages was over Billy Crystal's blackfaced impression of the late, great Sammy Davis, Jr. at the Oscars. This week, Limbaugh, like Imus, chose to pick on someone who was:
*Doing nothing more than exercising her right to testify about something she believed in
*Far from able to fight back with the same weapons Limbaugh had at hand
*In a different demographic and social class than Limbaugh
In other words, Limbaugh was a bully to a defensless woman. Fluke herself has responded with class, saying that the words he used to apologize were "personal enough," and therefore, no phone calls were needed.
And even after losing sponsors, Limbaugh remained defensive even today, saying that rappers were able to get away with, and even win awards, for rapping lyrics disrespecting women.
Rush...NO ONE should be able to disrespect women, in song or otherwise. I know rappers, Rush and you're no rapper. You're a conservative talk show host with an agenda. You are a recovering narcotics addict with an audience of millions who follow your every word. Especially white men of a certain age. And you have a responsibility to lead them. Don't ever forget that.
This is how we do it on Token Female: I suggest a series of behaviors that just might help Rush to right his wrongs.
*Buy a dozen...no THREE dozen fresh red roses from ProFlowers.com --one of the sponsors you insulted. That's one dozen for every day you insulted Ms. Fluke,. Then, go to Georgetown University and personally present them to her, on bended knee, in front of the Law Library.
*Donate a large chunk of your "Excellence in Broadcasting" syndication money to the health clinic at Georgetown University
*And finally, since it is STILL unlikely you'll lose your show, as Imus did...have Ms. Fluke on your show to explain her views on why contraceptive pills are necessary to treat a variety of ailments...from acne to endometriosis. You listen, she talks. We all get educated.
*I then suggest that you get on your knees, and ask God and your mother, who is likely in Heaven, for forgiveness. And NEVER make me write another column like this again.
And then, you get on with whatever you're going to say about the Republican candidates for President. Because THAT's what you do.