Archive for March 4th, 2012

I didn’t want to weigh in here on the ongoing Rush Limbaugh controversy where  his normal disgusting vitriol went to new levels as he made personal attacks on a Georgetown student. The attack came on Sandra Fluke, who was testifying before Congress on the need for the inclusion of contraceptive coverage in health care plans, in her case for its use in preventing ovarian cysts.  Among the many stupid things Limbaugh said concerning this issue, he called her a slut, prompting a firestorm of protest from people everywhere.  This resulted in organized boycotts of those corporations that support Limbaugh by advertising with him which finally brought a tepid apology from Limbaugh, obviously done to try to stem the stream of advertisers running away from him.  Like I said, I didn’t want to become involved with this but in the midst of this whole thing there have been some enlightening moments of standing up for civility that I wanted to highlight here.

The first was from Dave Friend, CEO of Carbonite, who wrote after pulling their current and all future advertising from Limbaugh’s show:

 No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.

The other was a statement released by John J. DeGioia, the President of Georgetown University, who made this elegant case for the need for civil discourse:

Dear Members of the Georgetown Community:

There is a legitimate question of public policy before our nation today. In the effort to address the problem of the nearly fifty million Americans who lack health insurance, our lawmakers enacted legislation that seeks to increase access to health care. In recent weeks, a question regarding the breadth of services that will be covered has focused significant public attention on the issue of contraceptive coverage. Many, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have offered important perspectives on this issue.

In recent days, a law student of Georgetown, Sandra Fluke, offered her testimony regarding the proposed regulations by the Department of Health and Human Services before a group of members of Congress. She was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction. She provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people. One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression. And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position — including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels — responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.

In our vibrant and diverse society, there always are important differences that need to be debated, with strong and legitimate beliefs held on all sides of challenging issues. The greatest contribution of the American project is the recognition that together, we can rely on civil discourse to engage the tensions that characterize these difficult issues, and work towards resolutions that balance deeply held and different perspectives. We have learned through painful experience that we must respect one another and we acknowledge that the best way to confront our differences is through constructive public debate. At times, the exercise of one person’s freedom may conflict with another’s. As Americans, we accept that the only answer to our differences is further engagement.

In an earlier time, St. Augustine captured the sense of what is required in civil discourse: “Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth. Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us. For then only may we seek it, lovingly and tranquilly, if there be no bold presumption that it is already discovered and possessed.”

If we, instead, allow coarseness, anger — even hatred — to stand for civil discourse in America, we violate the sacred trust that has been handed down through the generations beginning with our Founders. The values that hold us together as a people require nothing less than eternal vigilance. This is our moment to stand for the values of civility in our engagement with one another.

He’s absolutely correct.  This is our moment to stand for the values of civility.  While I believe that Limbaugh has the right to say whatever absurd crap comes into that pumpkin head of his ( sorry, I couldn’t resist one small personal attack!), it is also the right of us who find his hate-filled schtick disgusting to show our displeasure by voting in the free market by boycotting those who enable this hatespeak with their advertising dollars.  Many companies have alredy pulled their backing which brought the lukewarm lip-service from Limbaugh. 

But others persist.  ProFlowers, for instance.  They even have a Rush discount.  They issued a statement that is even more tepid than Limbaugh’s apology. If you wish to take a stand against Limbaugh’s brand of hate politics, there are numerous boycott sites online that list all of his sponsors.  Perhaps this will serve as a warning to those who wish to only engage in personal attacks that we, the public, are willing to take a stand.

And if you’re a listener of Limbaugh, which I doubt you are if you’re here, ask yourself why you choose to spend your time listening to such a person.  Has he made your life better in any way?  Has he solved any problems in your life or in this world at all?  Does the Limbaugh brand of hatred really speak to your view of the world?  Think about it– turn off Rush and take a stand for civility.

Added Monday:  ProFlowers, along with a number of other companies, has dropped their sponsorship of Limbaugh show.

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