Rush and Roseanne: a tale of two trash talkers


headshot Rush Limbaugh

(CCL forwardstl)

Last Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she spoke in support of requiring religiously-affiliated institutions to provide contraception in employee health plans.

The next day, he just kept going:

So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.

Public outrage against his remarks was, as it should have been, fast and furious. Speaker of the House John Boehner termed Limbaugh’s comments “inappropriate.” The President called Fluke to express his support. As of today, over 40 sponsors have withdrawn their ads from Limbaugh’s radio show.

Fine. His remarks were outrageous. If I was going to nitpick, I’d say that the Speaker’s word choice–inappropriate–was pretty half-hearted, and a call from the President was a little over the top. But neither of those is surprising.

I’m not going to get into the disparity between this situation and the treatment of conservative women by the media. The Daily Beast’s Kirsten Powers has ably documented a few of the remarks top liberal pundits have made about conservative women leaders: remarks which, sadly, make “slut” look tame.

But fast forward with me to last Friday night, two days after Limbaugh’s ugly rant. Actor and evangelist Kirk Cameron appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight to talk about his new documentary, Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure. During the interview, Morgan asked Cameron about his position on gay marriage.

Cameron said:

I believe that marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the Garden between Adam and Eve: one man, one woman, for life, till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don’t think anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don’t.

Regarding homosexuality, he went on to say:

I think that it’s unnatural. I think that it’s detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.

Here’s a clip from the interview. Listen to his tone of voice. Watch his facial expressions, his body language:

headshot Roseanne Barr

(CCL Leah Mark)

Here’s what Roseanne Barr had to say about that:

Kirk or Kurt or whatever Cameron is an accomplice to murder with his hate speech.

Singer Jordan Knight suggested:

Ted Haggard vehemently opposed gays as well. Wonder why? He couldn’t accept himself … in my opinion. #justsayin

And this from comedian Sarah Colonna:

 Loving God but spreading hate has never made sense to me.

Star Trek novelist David Alan Mack:

Kirk Cameron thinks homosexuality is “unnatural” & “ultimately destructive”. Well, Kirk, that’s how I feel about ignorance, bigotry & hate.

Writer Tiffany Reisz:

Dear Kirk Cameron, If you have found homosexuality to be destructive, I have two words of advice for you–more lube. Love, Tiffany

Comedian Nick Stadler:

Amazing how many idiots feel empowered by Kirk Cameron. It’ll be even better after he’s caught sucking cock in a public toilet.

Mötley Crüe co-founder Nikki Sixx:

Kirk Cameron, asshole of the week.

Let’s be clear on our facts here.

Relatively unknown individuals (Fluke and Cameron) spoke out on matters of public policy (contraception funding, gay marriage). One or more well-known personalities (Limbaugh in the first instance, Barr and many others in the second) responded with vulgar name-calling designed to impugn the integrity and character of the speaker.

The President, the media, and a number of major advertisers got involved rebuking Limbaugh’s trash talking. It became a major news story.

Where is the President’s call to Cameron? The Speaker’s denunciation of Nick Stadler? Advertisers’ outrage at Nikki Sixx?

Entertainment sites such as E! Online and Wetpaint have attacked Cameron, saying he was “spewing” “aggressive,” “incendiary” “hate speech.” But nothing about his interview can very well be characterized as spewing, or aggressive, or incendiary or hateful. What they really mean is simply that they disagree strongly with his position.

Oh, that’s right: just like many other people disagree strongly with Fluke’s position that the Catholic Church should be forced to violate its conscience and pay for something it considers a grave moral evil.

But . . . where’s the media furor over the spewing of aggressive, incendiary, hateful language by Cameron’s attackers?

And why is there a double standard?

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8 thoughts on “Rush and Roseanne: a tale of two trash talkers

  1. I agree there does seem to be a double standard. The “why” seems to be purely related to content in some cases, purely related to who is doing the attacking in others, while in still others it is the target of the attack. Does that make it a triple standard?

    Although I suppose that if you analyze which content, attacker or attackee is open season or protected, it does seem to come down to a delineation of only two categories: right or left.

    Your distinction between the behavior of media personalities and the common man (or woman) is very valid. While I might roll my eyes at vitriol spewed by “ordinary” tweeters or bloggers, I don’t look for any corporate or public reprimands. However when those of public notoriety get a pass, it not only indicates there is a major problem, but by going unchecked it encourages the attacks to spread.

    So it looks like the behavior of the conservative side is being very adequately policed. That is a good thing. Time now to do something about the other side.

  2. I will open with a brief statement in Rush’s defense. Everyone who knows Rush well, knows he speaks often with “tongue in cheek” which he was doing in this instance, I know, I heard it. He was simply brilliantly following what Ms Fluke demands inferred to their logical conclusion. Not pretty, but totally logical. The second statement, just took it a “tongue in cheek” bit further.

    Second it is well documented and books written about the huge bias in the main stream media against anyone on the right, Conservative, Christian or Republican. So there is should be no expectation that they would even give a thought to allow that side a break in any way, and that anyone in their camp would hold their side accountable for a millisecond for their hate spewing nasty comments. Surely you didn’t expect anything different? Ms Fluke encouraged everyone to check into “Media Matters” for their input on the matter and it is also a fact that Media Matters pretty much controls the content of the media and advises the White House (ie. President Obama) regularly. Or perhaps vise versa. Those who yell the loudest about the “so called hate speech” of Rush Limbaugh or the Right, are the most likely to spew the most vociferous hatred.

    By the way the press is making much of the fact that 28 sponsors have dropped Rush. Lets compare a bit about the 180,000 sponsors nationwide on local as well as national stations whose ads might be on Rush’s time slot and it doesn’t seem like much. It is an every day occurrance and doesn’t mean he will go off the air. Sorry folks.

    • Carol, thanks for your comments. I can speak tongue-in-cheek, and on occasion I can follow a premise to its logical conclusion (maybe not “brilliantly,” but I try) without calling another human being a slut. Do you go around calling people sluts? If you don’t, why not? If it’s not okay for you, why is it okay for Rush? And how can you defend Rush in one paragraph and then lambast liberals for “spewing nasty comments” in the next? How is what they’re doing qualitatively different from what Rush is doing?

      • Sorry, that came off pretty rapid fire. I wasn’t meaning to give you the third degree. I was just writing at 110 miles an hour before rushing out the door to a meeting. Let me try again. . . .

        Liberals tend to say, “Conservative pundits spew hate. Us? We’re just being witty. And besides, the targets of our wrath are wrong and deserved what we said.” And conservatives tend to say, “Liberal pundits spew hate. Us? We’re just being witty. And besides, the targets of our wrath are wrong and deserved what we said.” It seems to me that both sides should stop condemning the rudeness, crudeness and obscenity of the talking heads across the aisle while excusing (and enjoying) the rudeness, crudeness and often downright obscenity of their own talking heads. We need to have the courage and the ethical consistency to disapprove mean-spirited and uncivil behavior no matter whether it comes from “the other side” or from our own golden boy or girl.

    • There’s no excuse for Rush Limbaugh’s ugly behavior. The ugliness of people on the other side of the political spectrum isn’t an excuse. A history of using snideness and sarcasm to make points isn’t an excuse. Mr. Limbaugh did us all a disservice and totally blew the (legitimate) discussion about religious freedom out of the water, substituting a discussion about sexism and hatred instead. It’s a shame.

  3. So, this may be a simple way to look at it however, I Don’t. It’s that complex.
    Obama wants to be re-elected so he is going to Be the great protector and make a phone call. By doing this he gains a few more backers. Other wise how would we know he made the call.

    If he had called Cameron he would have lost more support then he gained. Now he has the support of femminist and gays.
    Really what would obama have said anyway.

  4. So Rush was probably a little harsh, and he should have known when to drop it. But he has a point that what that woman was arguing for is outrageous, and he was technically correct, in ways, but quite harsh and probably out of line. But that’s his personality and nobody freaks out over Howard Stern or other edgier people. So I agree there is clearly a double standard.

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