Rush / Fluke: Name Calling For Me, But Not For Thee

Greek philosopher Diogenes walks through the streets of Athens by day carrying a lantern in search of an honest man

Rush Limbaugh’s over-the-top name calling directed at Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke earlier this month has resulted in an over-the-top reaction which continues through this writing. What’s revealed by it all? It’s not about beating your opponent in a debate by making a solid, fact-based case – it’s just about beating down the people with whom you disagree.

Limbaugh was out of line and it was appropriate for him to apologize, which he did on March 3. On his next show, he expanded on the apology explaining:

“The apology to her over the weekend was sincere. It was simply for using inappropriate words in a way I never do, and in so doing, I became like the people we oppose. I ended up descending to their level. It’s important not to be like them, ever, particularly in fighting them. The old saw, you never descend to the level of your opponent or they win.

Limbaugh was right, he did descend to the level of his opponents. In so doing, he diminished his argument, actually took the focus off of the issue of government’s increasing intrusiveness, Fluke’s staged “testimony”, etc., and handed opponents a can of gasoline. Unfortunately, plenty of people are standing around, matchboxes in hand, ready to strike.

Click to read full editorial column

Limbaugh, at the very least provided fodder for local editorialists such as Lincoln Journal Star’s Cindy Lange-Kubick. But perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that Limbaugh’s actions set off a fresh opportunity to witness an exhibition of the contorted logic, double-standards, prejudices, vitriol, and hypocrisy aimed at anyone who is a conservative, a Christian, has moral standards, or even occasionally listens to talk radio.

Lange-Kubick’s “Feminazis — and those who love them — rush to unite” was published in the March 5 Lincoln Journal Star, and began as follows:

“I can’t remember the last time I heard Rush Limbaugh call a woman a ‘Feminazi.’

Or take a call from a Dittohead who agreed — fervently! — with Limbaugh’s skewering of that day’s female target.

That’s because I try to stay far, far away from things that make me less than proud to be a human. Talk radio in general. Limbaugh in particular.”

Three lines in and Lange-Kubick is engaging in conduct strikingly similar to that of Limbaugh’s – listening to Rush Limbaugh debases humanity? Another quote from Lange-Kubick:

“In fact, he’s just one in a long line of male commentators who have made a living denigrating those with whom they disagree or dislike, in the most vile terms possible.”

An experiment – let’s try a substitution…

“In fact, she’s just one in a long line of female newspaper columnists who have made a living denigrating those with whom they disagree or dislike, in the most vile terms possible.”

Hmm.

And that’s just a few lines. There are a number of such gems.

When Linda read the column she was…inspired….? to write a brief Letter to the Editor pointing out Lange-Kubick’s hypocrisy. It was published in the Journal Star’s Sunday, March 11 edition with the title “Patronizing tone”.

Click to read Linda’s Letter to the Editor

 

A few key lines:

“In short, in her article she does to Limbaugh, his listeners and political conservatives generally what she complains Limbaugh did to Sandra Fluke. True, she did not impugn their sexuality so much as their humanity. But which is the more serious offense?”

Good question.

In “Is It Heartless or Just Lawless? Right and Wrong in a Whatever World“, Linda described the values system present in the United States at the time of the writing of the Constitution and contrasted it to two other systems now permeating our culture. Here is a very brief synopsis of Linda’s articulations:

Traditional value system, upon which the American legal system is based:

Judeo-Christian values; there is absolute truth and right and wrong is based on fundamental principles

Two new systems:

Moral relativism; there is no right and wrong

Situational ethics; right and wrong is circumstantial and subjective

Linda is willing to civilly debate the question she posed regarding Cindy Lange-Kubick’s hypocrisy. And she’s tried to do that via the comment section attached to the column on the Lincoln Journal Star’s website. But, if you’re looking for a debate and a dialogue today, good luck finding it. And if you’re looking for civility regarding a political topic…{color me speechless}.

Soon after the Letter to the Editor appeared on the Journal Star’s website, a string of comments began that are a vivid illustration of what passes for “dialogue” today, both on and offline. That dialogue, with few exceptions – when it is not entirely irrelevant to the matter at hand, or just outright incomprehensible – runs the spectrum between moral relativism and situational ethics.

This Monty Python sketch, “Argument Clinic”, funny as it might be, is very apt.

Today…abuse + contradiction = argument.

But…

“In philosophy and logic, an argument is an attempt to persuade someone of something, by giving reasons or evidence for accepting a particular conclusion.” ~ “Argument”, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Note the inclusion of such words as “logic”, “reasons”, and “evidence”.

Right out of the gate, an LJS commenter resorted to religious bigotry, rather than logic, reason, or evidence:

Click to visit the page with “momma mia’s” comment

Why the religious bigotry?

Linda included the following at the end of her Letter to the Editor:

“‘And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?’ — Matthew 7:3″

So…

Bible quotation usage = user MUST be Christian

Christian = zealot

Asserting a columnist is a hypocrite in criticizing a right-wing talk show host = demand that all media be written from a Christian conservative perspective

Then, a couple of other commenters “saw” momma mia’s religious bigotry and “raised” the stakes (note that user “Darth Mom”, is Linda):

Click to view page with Lonchaney111′s comments

**Logic, reason, and evidence check**

Neither in the Letter to the Editor nor in any of her own comments on the LJS site, did Linda attempt to “defend herself” as a “Rush Listener”. She didn’t even attempt to defend Rush Limbaugh. Again, she was pointing out Cindy Lange-Kubick’s hypocrisy.

{Parents, hide your children! – there is a RUSH LISTENER nearby.}

How ironic…

Rush Limbaugh = horrible

Cindy Lange-Kubick = right on!

So…I, Lonchaney111 can equate listening to Rush Limbaugh to viewing pornography.

Another comment, repeating other users’ biases and devolving into crassness:

Click to view page with Liberal Dave’s comment

I think Liberal Dave’s comments require no comment.

On second thought, I am curious to apply Mr. Dave’s standards for “giving up rights to fair treatment” to someone Liberal Dave agrees with and see how his tune changes.  Simply put, where will we find the angels necessary to determine for us what, and what does not, constitute behavior that causes someone to forfeit his or her rights to equal treatment?

And on third thought, I thought modern liberalism was all about “tolerance”. Alas, we find, yet again, that “fairness” is thrown out the window and tolerance, discarded, if your views are not in alignment with those ascribed to by modern liberals.

So there’s no tolerance, no “fairness”, but there is more crassness, and stock stereotyping…

Click to view page with The Real Marky Mark’s comment

So…

“those on the right” = stressed out and so mentally fragile as to require medication

More allusions to excrement, or at least to the related anatomy

And when in doubt…skip the prescriptions…and just “roll up a fatty”…

I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like I just took a wrong left turn and ended up in a playground while the 4th Graders were at recess.

This is fit conversation?

But it is just not enough allude to right-wingers’ mental states, it is necessary to double down on Lange-Kubick’s caricature of “typical” conservatives…

Click to view page with Sleestack’s comments

***A geography fact for Sleestack***

The last time I checked, Nebraska lay north of the Mason-Dixon line…

The Mason-Dixon Line…a traditional north / south division

The majority of Sleestack’s post may be utterly irrelevant, vitriolic, and biased, but, HEY, at least it’s TOPICAL! Keep in mind that the states of Mississippi and Alabama were about to hold their primaries when Linda’s letter was published.

So…because the primaries in two southern states were looming, Sleestack had to inject insults against southerners. How original. Providing Bill Maher with new material[1. Following Maher’s obscene tweets about “toothless” southerners on the day of the MS and AL primaries, the Alabama Democratic Party Executive Director announced the “comedian” would not be appearing at an ALGOP fundraising event.)] or just going straight for the worn out “all southerners are toothless hicks” bigotry?

Instead of refuting with substance, Sleestack decided to share a recipe for a bizarre political syrup of ipecac…grab all people who live in the south – then, grab any remaining Christian conservatives and registered Republicans north of that Mason-Dixon line, throw ‘em in a bottle, put a lid on ‘em, shake hard, and then slap on the following label:

“Flavored with ignorant, Bible-thumping red-necks — guaranteed to induce vomiting”.

What is it with all of these bodily function references? Anyone else see a theme here?

After all the insults are hurled, the stereotypes applied, and therefore, the original premise long-forgotten, there is just one more thing to do – go to the talking points memo with the guaranteed stand by.

A couple of incidents related to the whole Sandra Fluke saga have caused another debate; President Obama made public comments complimentary to Sandra Fluke, but refused to comment on Limbaugh’s apology or to answer questions about money received by the entity commonly referred to as “his super PAC”, Priorities USA. The PAC accepted a $1 million donation from celebrity Bill Maher. Maher is on the record calling former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin names that are at least as vulgar as those used by Rush Limbaugh to refer to Sandra Fluke.

In a media appearance, the Priorities USA head attempted to distinguish Maher from Limbaugh with a tangle of logic I won’t even try to unravel and THEN, pulled out a good ‘ole stand-by…Rush Limbaugh must be held to a standard all his own – cue the Snidley Whiplash music – because he is the defacto leader of the Republican Party – dun dun dun!

 

Right on cue, user momma mia chimed in at the LJS webisite with the following…

Click to view page with momma mia’s comments

Yep. CAUGHT. You got us! It is a vast right-wing conspiracy and Rush Limbaugh is our leader (baah, baah, baaah).[2. As for the remainder of her comment, you will recall that momma mia was the first to shout "Christian zealot" in reaction to Linda's letter to the editor.  Inexplicably, momma mia implies in this later comment that all Limbaugh listeners are into bestiality as well . . . when they're not otherwise occupied in Bible readings and branding scarlet letters on the bodices of fallen women, of course.]

Anyone who reads this site with any regularity should laugh out loud at that assertion. The irony here is so thick, you could cut it with a knife. In an earlier round of “debates” on the LJS site, a commenter who disagreed with Linda, having read some of the articles on this website, said Linda had to be Libertarian – because we’re too hard on Republicans here at GiN to actually be Republicans! In reply, Linda noted that of all of the parties, she identifies with the Republican Party the most, but:

“But, if you want to understand why we tend to come down on the GOP so hard at GiN, I ask you: Who disappoints you the most when they don’t live up to your expectations, someone who says he’s your friend (with whom you thought you shared common beliefs and values) or a complete stranger?” see footnote[3. Linda’s full comment can be seen in the GiN article she wrote, “Deserving of Darts – Again – Jeff Fortenberry’s Votes on Spending Cuts“.]

In order to make this point crystal clear, I refer the reader to the recent addition of the following graphic to the front page of the GiN site:

Following the hypocrisy, bias, stereotyping, bathroom humor, the default expectations regarding partisan lock-step, and the irony, we can see that logic has been tortured – to death. Are there enough people interested in bringing it back?  Are there enough people who are even capable of the critical thinking ability to do so? I don’t know.

Sadly, among the few people who commented on the LJS site who have not spent their time there bashing Linda and conservatives, et al, at least one defender received an admonishment from Linda because they had stooped to the same level as the opposition.

Can anyone engage in debate anymore without going straight for the “beat down”?

In considering the level of dialogue on LJS – and elsewhere of late – Linda remembered something that provides a sad contrast. There was a regular sketch on the original Saturday Night Live called “Point/CounterPoint”, which was a lampoonish parody of the 60 Minutes segment by that name.  The SNL “Point/ CounterPoint’s” format was the same as its 60 Minutes inspiration – a one on one debate over issues of the day between a male and a female commentator — with one important deviation. In between substantive argument points, Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd hurled “colorful” insults at one another.  Ironically, Dan Aykroyd always began his rejoinder to Ms. Curtin by addressing her as “Jane, you ignorant s___ . . .”.  (Yes, it is one of the terms Limbaugh used to refer to Sandra Fluke.) Click HERE to read a transcript from one emblematic sketch[4. NOTE: Some readers may find the SNL sketch offensive. There is a YouTube video of this sketch, but the SNL sketch is apparently being used as a “tease” for some other purpose. We advise against clicking on any of the links on the video itself or those included immediately under it. The link, HERE, is being provided for the ability to listen ONLY.].

The Curtin – Aykroyd debates were intended to be over the top – to parody the civil, substantive debates seen every week on broadcast television. Sadly, the SNL sketches seem almost tame in comparison to the standard dialogue found all over the internet and T.V. today.  We, as a society, have become an SNL sketch.  What’s even worse – the spoof debates, vulgar though they may be – at least contained some substantive content between the insults.

Comments

  1. says

    Very interesting article GiN. I often wondered if you have ever graded your articles on the Fleish – Kincaid Readability scale to see what level of education they are written at? Just curious, but I am certain it is higher than grade 12. Other than that, I have no problem at all with this article. The box graphic is exactly on target here. It took time, but I am understanding. I also appreciate how you stayed away from providing a continuous list of other examples by politicians and political pundits who too have resorted to ‘slut’ type descriptions of opponents that they disagree with.
    But we do need to continue to complain about the double standard that is imposed on our side of the political fence. Giving in because it is not returning the results we want or change we want, is inadvisable too. I know you didn’t refer to this, but I only bring it up because it is a frequent point that has come up over this latest ‘slut’ issue.
    Unfortunately I have been away form the LOE’s in the LJS, and the OWS’s public pulse, and I see you have included a sample of the usual commentators who responses who frequent the comments portal of the LJS. These self appointed defenders of the left were obviously in heaven, and waiting to pounce on any defenders of the ‘Leader of the GOP Majority’. They had to be celebrating that Rush, who is so openly aggressive against liberalism for so many years, got a tiny ‘chink in his armor’ over this slut calling issue. Especially since Rush is very careful in what he says, but not in how he says it. Even the GOP establishment seemed to relish in claiming that Rush is not the leader of the GOP, but only an entertainer as Rush himself claims. However they are indeed wrong. Rush is the leader of the GOP conservative majority, because the GOP ruling elite and establishment have failed to fill that leadership position. Whether it is because they are so afraid of the pissing off the media or because they fear their loss of power within the beltway is debatable. The point is that they failed to come to Rush’s defense and that was worse than the outraged expressed by those taking advantage of the double standard.

    The nations Beltway GOP elite is the target that we should be exposing and I appreciate GiN’s taking the opportunity to do just that.

    Long may Rush’s reign live.

    • Norlyn Raisch says

      “I often wondered if you have ever graded your articles on the Fleish – Kincaid Readability scale to see what level of education they are written at? Just curious, but I am certain it is higher than grade 12.”

      One would certainly hope so. It would be a sad state indeed if the level of our political discourse were to top out at the degree of understanding and maturity appropriate to a high schooler.

      • jim mason says

        The reason why I asked about the readability scale, is because those institutions and our government that issue grants, usually prefer the submissions narrative to be on an eight grade level. I have seen those that scaled out at grade 27 and they almost never get awarded.

        There is a reason why I say this and its not because I am incapable of writing at many of these articles levels. I could not, but I do warn my proof readers to keep it on an understandable level to have the impact of persuasion. Not trying to impress the readers of the level of writing. Unless that was the intention of the article, and the subject was subordinate to impressing your peers.

      • Norlyn Raisch says

        Fortunately for all involved here, it is not the goal of the writer, nor of this site, to procure government grants, and the point of the comment or of the article has nothing to do with government grants, or with the impressing of peers. They both have to do with elevating the level of political discourse. Clearly, having government publications and major media stories written at an eighth grade level is not helping to do so, as you can notice from the current state of the nation.

        The Constitution is certainly not written at an eighth grade reading level, but many of our Founders did predict that at such a time as the people ceased to be educated about the Constitution and it’s principles and purposes, they would lose their freedoms and accept an increasingly tyrannical government, as we see happening today. To suggest then, that political discussion be continually and increasingly dumbed down, so as not to leave anyone out, is to embrace the march toward authoritarian government we are experiencing in this nation. The more productive course is to educate and challenge ourselves and those around us to a higher level of thought and discussion. Throughout history and the world today, one sees that the least educated peoples are subject to the most tyrannical and brutal forms of government.

        Finally, if you will read the article once again, you will see the topic is the need to elevate the level of thought and maturity in public dialogue on issues of the day. One cannot both elevate and remain at the same level. This is not pretension but common sense. If one prefers eighth grade level reading, one can subscribe to Time magazine and wait for the government to prescribe what to think about it.

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