A rush for comment

8 March 2012

Written by: Erdem Koc

As societal confines have changed – for better or worse, depending on your stance – the list of ‘acceptable’ terminologies in open conversation have been drastically altered.

In my grandparents’ era, words like ‘damn’ or ‘hell’ may have been considered by many to be uncivilised.

For my parents, certain four-letter words became the predominant fragments of language that wouldn’t be uttered around the dinner table, or in any upstanding societal situation.

Today, many of those words, and a host of others, have become almost acceptable in many situations. Especially when talking to those of a similar age or persuasion.

However, certain words continue to hold a certain level of taboo across generations.

The word ‘sl*t’ is one of them.

Regardless of eras, generations or upbringings, that remains one of those unsayable words.

But it appears that Rush Limbaugh didn’t get the memo.

Limbaugh, the controversial, incredibly right wing shock-jock, leveled the claim last week at a Georgetown University student by the name of Sandra Fluke.

On his nationally broadcast radio show, Limbaugh blasted the third-year law student.

Surely a person in Limbaugh’s position in which his every word is broadcast to and dissected by millions of people across the United States, must have had a solid reason for laying such an insult on the student.

Yet, the reason Fluke was the subject of a trademark Limbaugh tirade was that she testified before the US Congress that (without sounding too much like a fifth-grade sex education class) women’s contraception should be covered under her university health insurance policy.

Limbaugh further stated that Fluke was ‘a prostitute…having so much sex she couldn’t afford contraception’ in a continuation of his attack.

However, his coup de grace was his outrageous and hopefully sarcastic comments in which he suggested that if the American tax-payers are paying for Ms Fluke and the like to have sex, they should be able to see the fruits of their dollars.

‘If we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch,’ said Limbaugh on Friday.

While at this point, it would be easier to steal a line from Shawn Carter and ‘tell Rush Limbaugh to get off (our) balls’, such a dismissive response would be too little.

Whether the levelheaded, non-sensationalistic amongst us like it or not, Limbaugh at his Fox News ilk are one of the most influential, impactful voices in American society.

Comments like those Limbaugh elicited this past week are so reprehensible that – regardless of political persuasion – they should be denounced immediately.

It should be said that Limbaugh did stumble through an apology over the weekend – not before a media firestorm led to a raft of sponsors abandoning his program – but considering his record of controversial statements, it’s easy to doubt the sincerity of his apology.

It’s people like Limbaugh, whose main purpose seems to be to push their own views regardless of how outdated they may seem, that tarnish the American political media.

With an election looming at one of the most important periods of time for the United States, this sort of bigoted, irresponsible, talking-head babble shouldn’t be tolerated from figures in the public arena.

Obviously, there will be lapses in judgment at times – something Yumi Stynes would attest to – but in the instance of Limbaugh it was a deliberate act and one which couldn’t be passed off as a mere slip of the tongue.

Like it or not, people with a voice in the public scene are held to a higher standard, and therefore have to be more responsible when choosing their words.

Limbaugh needs to remember that.

Liam Quinn is a second-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University.  He is currently on exchange at Michigan State University, and is covering the 2012 US presidential elections for upstart.  You can follow him on Twitter: @liamquinn23