The Real Point of the Left’s Uproar over Limbaugh

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


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Rush Limbaugh has got the progressives pitching a fit over some remarks on his radio show about a Georgetown University law student named Sandra Fluke. Fluke had made the preposterous claim, while addressing House Democrats over President Obama’s rule forcing Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, that the cost of birth control was prohibitive for Georgetown law students. Limbaugh responded by calling Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute”  who is “having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception; she wants you and me – the taxpayers – to pay her.”

Progressive dudgeon hit the stratosphere. Democrat Representative Louise Slaughter wrote a letter that decried Limbaugh’s “sexually charged, patently offensive, and obscene language” and “atrocious and hurtful words.” MSNB’s Jonathan Capehart called the comments “hateful” and “rude,” and said they were “low” even for Limbaugh. Democrat “strategist” Krystal Ball (sic) called Limbaugh “despicable,” “disgusting,” and a “loathsome individual.” The Washington Post’s Jamila Bey called the remarks “hate speech” and claimed they “crossed into the realm of sexual harassment.” The president of Georgetown said the remarks were “misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.”

And in the midst of crisis in the Middle East and the ticking entitlement time bomb, President Obama found time personally to call Fluke and deplore Limbaugh’s “inappropriate personal attacks.” Following the loss of some advertisers, Limbaugh apologized for what he called his “attempt to be humorous.”

I’m not interested in Limbaugh’s comments or whether or not they are “appropriate.” When you enter the political kitchen, as Fluke did, you should be ready to get scorched. As always, more interesting is the reaction to the comments. And that reaction once again reveals the monstrous hypocrisy of progressives. The folks who proclaim their sensitivity, nuanced thinking, therapeutic concern for the tender sensibilities of others, and open-mindedness have always been the most vicious, bigoted, narrow-minded, crude, dogmatic, conformist people on the planet. Take everybody’s exhibit number one, the HBO blowhard Bill Maher, who’s on record calling Sarah Palin a “c—t” and inviting Jon Huntsman to “suck my d—k.” I don’t remember the President calling Palin or Hunstman to regret “that our political discourse has become debased,” as his flack Jay Carney put it. Nor is anyone demanding that Obama-supporting superpac Priorities USA Action should return the million bucks Maher gave it. Why should they? Remember when Obama called the Tea Party folks “tea-baggers,” a vulgar sexual term? “Appropriate” and “debased” are in the eye of the progressive beholder, and depend on the ideology of whoever is being attacked.

Of course, in the progressive hysteria we are also subjected to the “chilling free speech” charge, as when Fluke on the Today Show Friday said that Limbaugh’s comments were an “attempt to silence me.” She apparently doesn’t think that her threat to sue Limbaugh––the left’s favorite WMD when it comes to destroying free speech–– might be an attempt to silence him. In fact, rather than “silencing” her, Limbaugh’s comments have given an obscure law student the biggest platform on the planet, at the same time Limbaugh’s apology suggests that it is his free speech that’s been “chilled.” And are the media so dumb that they don’t see the absurdity of a guest on the Today Show claiming to its 5.6 million viewers that someone tried to “silence” her?

More important than occasioning a display of progressive hypocrisy is Fluke’s claim that law students at a prestigious private school can’t afford birth control. If Fluke could produce one of her colleagues who doesn’t have an I-phone, an I-pad, an I-pod, a high-speed internet connection, or cable television; who doesn’t spend $20 a week at Starbucks, or has to eat ramen every night, or never takes a vacation, never eats out, never goes to bars or concerts; or who has parents on welfare who can’t contribute to her education, or works part-time at a burger joint, or has any other characteristics of someone so poor she can’t budget for birth control pills, then maybe she’d have a point. But even then, condoms are available for free at numerous clinics and even at some retail stores. And God forbid we should suggest that the young lady just say no.

The cost of birth control, though, is just a smokescreen. More pernicious is the assumption that, as Fluke puts it, “This is about women’s health.” In other words, unplanned pregnancy is a disease, something that like breast cancer just sort of happens to a woman, and for which she bears no responsibility. That’s how House minority leader Nancy Pelosi sees it. Speaking of the failed Senate amendment to allow religious organizations not to fund contraception, Pelosi said that the measure was “part of the Republican agenda of disrespecting women’s health issues [by] allowing employers to cut … basic health services for women, like contraception, mammograms, prenatal and cervical-cancer screenings.”

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  • Isherwood

    Nazis like Limbaugh hate women. Silly Republicans fell into Obama's trap on birth control and exposed themselves as the hateful reactionaries they are. You are the minority, you will be over ruled! Maybe now Limbaugh can go back to community college and finish his degree. But he would probably flunk out again!

  • Rick H.

    Why don't you polish up your reading comprehension?

    "Abortion on demand" means demanding the right to one, any time, for any reason, and demanding EVERYONE participate in paying for them no matter what their moral aversion to them is.

    If that isn't "radical" id like to know what is.

  • kafirman

    Here is your Fluke: http://mrctv.org/blog/sandra-fluke-gender-reassig… I don't see the point of parsing her remarks made to her fellow leftist sl*t anti-stigmatizers (leftocrats) from Fluke's larger political remarks which are affecting the national conversation.

  • kentatwater

    I don't do crazy.

    No, what you don't do is reality. Human papillomavirus is the cause of the vast majority of cases of cervical cancer. No promiscuity, no HPV.

  • kentatwater

    That's exactly what the leftists keep pretending it's about.

  • kentatwater

    Yeah, some just think that it's a coincidence that if some of that biblical advice were followed, people would be better off.

  • kentatwater

    Don't soften what up? I believe that an individual's life will generally be much better, if he adheres to the wisdom found in the Torah or the Bible.