After catching up on a few news stories this morning, I thought I’d take the time to jot down a few thoughts on the recent Rush Limbaugh flap. For anyone still living under a rock (possibly a rock on Mars, which is where Seymour occasionally accuses me of having grown up), he called Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke a slut after her Congressional testimony in support of the contraception coverage requirement. He was then forced to issue an apology, at least part of which (I didn’t visit his website, so I have no idea if this is the entire statement or just a portion of it) I read here this morning:
For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. 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. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? …
My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
I think what Mr. Limbaugh fails to take into consideration is that contraception is not just for single twenty-somethings who like to live it up on the weekends and party till dawn. Contraception is for all women, and men, too. I’ll bet he’s used a condom on countless past occasions. I understand that condoms are cheaply available over the counter, but vasectomies aren’t. What about married couples who choose not to have any(more) children? Are those married women sluts? I don’t think so.
I disagree with Mr. Limbaugh’s remarks, both his initial rant on his show and those in the excerpt of his apology that I cited above. He is, however, free to say whatever he wants as he is entitled to his own opinion. At first, I was all for the apology, but then Seymour and I got into a discussion over it this past weekend and he pointed out something that I myself have mentioned several times before in regard to other forced public apologies: they mean nothing. They mean nothing to the person giving the forced apology, and they most assuredly mean nothing to the person on the receiving end of the apology. The apologizer is not really sorry; they’re merely sorry that there was an uproar or that they got caught. The apologizee knows all of this and takes said forced apology with the appropriate amount of salt (grain or mountain – your choice).
What he said was ill-conceived and insulting. His apology was almost as bad. If he wanted to spend three hours addressing the Congressional testimony concerning the contraception issue, fine, but he should have done it without getting personal with anyone. His question about personal responsibility and accountability made me laugh – people choosing to use contraception is responsible. After all, sexual irresponsibility results in unwanted pregnancies, some of which are aborted and some of which result in children who may suffer from poverty, abuse, and/or neglect. Contraception is the responsible choice for women who are unable to have more children due to personal fiscal realities and even health situations; some women cannot physically handle a pregnancy without seriously affecting their own health. These last two reasons apply to myself as well as to many other women in our country. I would love to have more children, but I have four already and I cannot physically withstand another pregnancy, nor can I afford to have more children, though I would dearly love to. It is my responsibility, then to make sure that I do not put myself in a position to get pregnant. I have two choices – stop having sex with my husband, or use some form of contraception. I’m pretty sure Seymour would be upset if I decided abstinence was the best way to keep me from getting pregnant. 🙂
As Voltaire famously said, “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I disagree with what Rush Limbaugh has said, both on his show and in his apology, but if we do not defend his right to free speech, then what will become of us? The Constitution guarantees the right to free speech. It does not, however, guarantee the right to intelligent speech or unoffensive speech.
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