Rob St. Amant

Rob St. Amant
December 31
My roots are in San Francisco and later Baltimore, where I went to high school and college. I stayed on the move, living for a while in Texas, several years in a small town in Germany, and then several more in Massachusetts, working on a Ph.D. in computer science. I'm now a professor at North Carolina State University, in Raleigh. My book, Computing for Ordinary Mortals, will appear this fall from Oxford University Press.


MARCH 4, 2012 9:05AM

A non-apology

Rate: 19 Flag

Rush Limbaugh:

What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex--what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. 
[Later:] ...In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke. 
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress... In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level. 


Command: Find "Sandra Fluke" "testimony".

Document found: PDF

Command: Search document for "sexual".

Two occurrences of "sexual" or "sexually" found:

...she assumed that’s how Georgetown’s insurance handled all of women’s sexual healthcare, so when she was raped...
...she didn’t go to the doctor even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections because she thought insurance wasn’t going to cover something like that...

Command: Search document for "personal". 

One occurrence of "personalis" found:

We expected that our schools would live up to the Jesuit creed of cura personalis, to care for the whole person, by meeting all of our medical needs.

Command: Search document for "recreational".

No occurrences found.

Command: Search document for "bedroom".

No occurrences found.

Command: Search document for synonyms of "sexual intercourse".

No occurrences found.

Command: Search document for "men".

Three occurrences of "menopause" found.

One occurrence of "men" found:

We did not expect that women would be told in the national media that if we wanted comprehensive insurance that met our needs, not just those of men, we should have gone to school elsewhere...


Someone wants to steer the national conversation toward sex. It's not Sandra Fluke.

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I hear ya Rob.. like the way you broke it down here.
Well done Rob, I love documented evidence. That filthy fat bastard pervert is abominable.
I like this kind of work. Well done!

p.s. Nice picture (I saw the discussion on FB.)
The Republican congress did that with Clinton too, instead of focusing on the growing threat of bin Laden in the Middle East. I believe they said Clinton's retaliation for the bombing of an Embassy was an attempt to divert their attention from the more important issues on the domestic front (such as Lewinsky). What are they not dealing with now? Oh, jobs and healthcare and millions of people who have been defrauded of their homes through illegal mortgages.
So, sometimes it's not even what they're talking about, it's also what they are not talking about and should be. Would denying women birth control compel more men to get a better education and the higher paying jobs that are now being taken up by women?
Rob, I have read Sandra Fluke's entire testimony describing the problem she faces with her school's health insurance. I'm certainly not a fan of Rush Limbaugh, but at the same time I have a hard time feeling very sorry for Ms. Fluke.

The problem she describes could be applied to countless other medical treatments and insurance policies: "I have this problem, and my insurance doesn't cover it," or "I have this problem, and my insurance makes me pay too much."

In what other situations do we hear this soft of thing? In almost everything. Anti-depressants and other psychoactive medications. Cardiac medications. Narcotics for pain relief. Cholesterol and blood pressure medications. Cancer medications and other treatments. Scans, X-rays, lab work, and other diagnostic tests. Whatever you want to name, there is health insurance that doesn't pay as much as some would like or need. And on top of that are the deductibles that must be paid out of pocket before the insurance pays for anything.

I once had insurance -- not bad insurance, actually -- that for some reason didn't cover injections. So when I needed injections in both knees for arthritis I was out of luck. More recently I was legally blind in one eye for over two years. My insurance covered the surgery, but the co-pay was unaffordable. I know one woman who used to pay $5 per month for pain medication; when she changed insurance because her husband got a new job, that $5 per month went up to $80 per month for the very same medication. That was in addition to the $70 per month that she paid for anti-depressants.

We currently have around 50 million people in the country who don't even have any health insurance. But Ms. Fluke has insurance, and apparently it's pretty good insurance because her only gripe is with birth control. And with a law degree from Georgetown she is on her way to becoming potentially a highly-paid attorney. And yet we are supposed to weep for her because this one thing that she would like to have her insurance cover isn't covered. What Rush Limbaugh should have said to her is "welcome to the world."

But not to worry, because the Obama administration is coming to the rescue. Out of all the things that insurance might not pay enough for, the Obama administration has decided that birth control is the priority. Not diabetes medications. Not anti-depressants. Not blood pressure medicine. Not cholesterol medicine. Not narcotics for people who suffer from chronic pain. Not arthritis injections. Not cataract surgery.

Nope, out of all possible treatments and medications, birth control will be guaranteed coverage -- and not just covered, but free! Hell, I'd like to have free medications too. Maybe I should testify in front of congress so people will weep for me, and I can get all my stuff for free.
Limbaugh "apologized" only because he knows he stepped in it this time, and now he's trying to scape it off his shoe. He ought to be scraping his tongue and his mind instead.

"It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man." Matthew 15:11

Judging by his corpulence and his drug history and the vile, projectile vomit that spews from him, it is both what goes in and comes out of that fetid mouth that defileth the man.
If Rush chose the "wrong words," what words did he want to use instead? Floozie? Tramp? Bimbo? Doxie? Trollop? Do any of these make Rush's comment less offensive?
I like the way that you've approached this.
Your rationality shows how irrational Limbaugh's blather is.

I read Keith Olbermann's comments about this at Raw Story; Limbaugh's own diatribe can be used to malign his four wives and even his mother.
This is a fine post Rob...thanks.
Mishima- as compelling as your discussion is about the general problems related to insurance, health care is relative to your age group and your gender. Females and students need health care related to their need. Insurance is not about health care for all, if health care includes prevention and wellness. Treating diseases (that are primarily still caused by choice of lifestyle, just not sexual) is the burden of insurance for almost all other problems. Almost 100% of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease is caused by lifestyle (genetics just tell you if your lifestyle is a good choice for your genes)- and also typically doesn't show up until later in life. Other than major medical trauma, health insurance now covers preventative care. Still, somehow, nobody is asking demanding that patients take control over their own kitchen habits in lieu of expensive pharmaceuticals. It is still all about gender and sexual discrimination.
Thanks for all the comments! (Even about my new 'do.)

I agree with most of what people have said; I'll focus on a couple areas of disagreement. That means you, Mishima. :-)

I wrote this post not because I feel sorry for Sandra Fluke's insurance situation; rather, my post is about the narrower issue of Limbaugh's dishonesty in presenting the statements of others. Fluke talked about women's health, but I imagine that thousands if not millions of Limbaugh's listeners will believe that she talked about sex. I feel sorry for her for that reason.

But let's take the broader view you express. I largely agree with this,

Whatever you want to name, there is health insurance that doesn't pay as much as some would like or need. And on top of that are the deductibles that must be paid out of pocket before the insurance pays for anything.

as well as with your concern for the uninsured. Wouldn't it be helpful if influential people steered the national conversation toward the topic of what's reasonable to expect in the way of health insurance for everyone and how we can afford it? But ideology intrudes. I'd be happy to change our system to reflect concrete successes in other countries, or perhaps in Massachusetts. Demogoguery has made that unlikely. Limbaugh's statements are a good example. He's tried to change a conversation about the conflict of religious conscience and public accommodation to a conversation about the immorality of a young woman who uses birth control. Oddly enough, he didn't mention that Georgetown University covers birth control for faculty and staff, but not for students. Moral consistency isn't his strong suit, I'd guess.

Finally, I'd say that Obama didn't make this an issue. The Affordable Care Act runs to over 900 pages, and it contains an enormous number of changes. Prominent Republicans have stated that they'd like to repeal it in its entirety (some say to replace it with something else, but that something else has never been spelled out). Contraception is just the latest hot-button issue.
Mish, if I've got it right, Fluke's complaint is that Georgetown, as a Catholic institution, is refusing to cover birth control as a religious matter. I think employers shouldn't be able to decide which things they will or won't cover in health insurance. And, of course, employers aren't likely to be against diabetes medicine on 'conscience' grounds - it comes down to being a woman's issue. Actually, it seems like a bad idea to have employers involved. Of course, I'm in Canada, where employers and insurance companies are not involved in what is and is not covered. (I don't know about the status of contraception.)
This post is an elegant take-down. Thanks!
Rob! It's so nice to see you. Read you. You know what I mean. :)

Mishima--I'm not sure why one would push aside the other. It's all bad, really. Insurance doesn't cover nearly enough, and that is why universal coverage is the right way to go. Well, one of the many reasons. But the main point here is that insurance coverage shouldn't be decided on the basis of personal, religious beliefs. It's not really about all the things health insurance doesn't cover. Of course, it very well could be. All arguments are valid, in this instance. One doesn't really supersede another. It might be a better idea to be upset with those who have set things up this way, instead.

Again, that's why universal healthcare would be better, because personal, religious beliefs shouldn't enter the arena, in terms of covering health care. If we are all covered equally, it's both cheaper and better. It also prevents lack of coverage because we don't think someone has lived life the way we think that he or she "ought" to have done. Everyone loves to be judge-y, don't you know? Even if they are wrong. Being a human being needs to be allowed. Healthcare shouldn't be a privilege, but a right.

Or, you know, if someone is genetically predisposed, perhaps he or she shouldn't be covered. Because without universal care, that's coming.

Let's not kid ourselves, however. This situation was never really about healthcare. This was about pushing down those "sluts" or as they are known generally ... women. You can bet viagra is covered. Good grief. Can't let the old ying-yang be limp! The heck with everyone else, right? Sometimes, I really think I can say, pretty safely, that I could easily hate the conservative right. It's a real challenge not to feel that way, some days. :/
I'm happy to see so many old friends here: I've known some of you almost since the beginning of OS.

I don't have much to add (at least, within the space of a comment) but to Jane, I've made up the search commands I typed in. Data analysts in areas like computer security have tools to make this sort of thing easy, and it would be straightforward to code it up, but I don't happen to know of any applications for general use.
Ol' Rush knows how to read between the lines. Beneath them too.