Petitions are circulating around the Internet calling for Rush Limbaugh's head. Regardless of his offensive rhetoric, words that I consider hate-speech, I do not believe sending him to the guillotine is the answer. During my appearance on the Geraldo Rivera Radio Show last Tuesday, Geraldo reminded me that Rush did apologize for this offense and asked me what I thought of his apology. I said that I thought it was insincere and that his boss likely channeled the same force a mother uses to get an apology out of her child.
Apologies never meant anything to me. If you regularly read me, you know that in my past I was involved in a few abusive relationships. A big part of those relationships were apologies; apologies that rarely extended past their verbalization and into the actual form of action or reformation. Rush apologized, but it is what he does now that counts.
Regardless of the bad, much good came out of Rush's recent bout with foot-in-mouth disease. It appears that the public has become more aware of the country's misogyny, gender inequality, and the obvious continuation of last year's War on Women. I like to think of the Chris Smith Bill as "the shot heard 'round the world" that got this political war going; a war waged against 50% of the population, many of them, individuals who voted for and share the same party affiliation with Smith.
The Chris Smith Bill was formally known as H.R. 3 - the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." It was an attempt to limit the amount of taxpayer funded abortions by excluding victims of rape through a close scrutinization of the crime's details. Thus, the Chris Smith Bill proposed to only cover abortions for women who became pregnant through what he referred to as "forcible" rape. It only took a few days of public outrage for this clause to be removed; it was offensive nonetheless, and the War on Women continues to march onwards.
With the battle still going at full force, the timing of Rush's derogatory commentary was certainly impeccable. Sandra Fluke's testimony on the issue of contraceptive coverage is just part of the defense against a larger war being waged on US women. As I write this piece, individual states are attempting to change and disqualify existing abortion laws to dissuade women from obtaining and making it difficult for them to pay for the procedure. Rush's diatribe did a service: he highlighted and demonstrated serious gender inequalities and misogyny and by doing so, brought more attention to the vast amount of state legislation currently aimed at removing and reducing coverage on reproductive rights that were already voted into existence.
The opinions of men like Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum are broadcast for millions to hear and in the midst of this volatile political atmosphere, with such a large audience these men and men like them can do much good. Unfortunately, they often do not only choose to send out messages of misogyny and gender superiority, but messages of homophobic, religious and sometimes racial intolerance as well: messages of hate.
Though our country is named the "United" States, over the past several years, we have hardly been united. Men and women; gay and straight; White, Black, Latino, and Asian. These are just descriptive words, adjectives; words that those with influence have used and continue to use to divide. It often seems that those with power would prefer to keep us dichotomized and this, of course, can be attributed to the age old tactic of "divide and conquer."
Divide and conquer is the "gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up."
Through hate-speech and bullying, members of the media and even those in public office (and often in the name of God) have used our demographics, simple adjectives that describe our color, origin, and sexual orientation, to divide us. Rather than firing Rush, don't you think it would have a bigger impact if he joined the quest for equality and equal pay? This is not the time for hate or war. We do not need Rush's head. What we need is reformation. What we need is Rush to make good on his apology.
Last week, sparked by this event and everything that led up to it, I issued a call for a new feminist movement in which men would play an integral role. Since my call, I started a petition, which isn't so much about a new feminist movement as it is a demand for equality for all. I also sent Rush an email and invited him to sign and support this petition and quest for equality.
Please make sure you sign the petition and invite Rush to sign it, too. If he does, think of all the people we will reach and perhaps affect together in a good way.
With great power, comes great responsibility - Voltaire.