Rolly: Why tolerate Limbaugh?
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I was considering several issues to write about in this column, including liquor policy, politics being played with veterans issues and super-PACs. But after what I heard on Wednesday, I've put them aside for another time.

That was the day Rush Limbaugh called a bold and articulate law student at Georgetown University a "slut" and a "prostitute."

Somebody needs to call out this mean-minded blowhard for the charlatan that he is. Liberal commentators have blasted him for his obscenities, but conservatives fear to take him on. And for that they should be ashamed.

Limbaugh was bloviating about Sandra Fluke, the law student who was invited by Democrats to testify at Republican Congressman Darrell Issa's hearing on President Obama's policy requiring contraceptives be covered in employer health plans. Issa had lined up a number of clergy to testify, but refused to include Fluke, saying her testimony was irrelevant to the issue.

In testimony before the Democrats' own hearing, though, Fluke told of a classmate with a medical problem that resulted in formation of dangerous ovarian cysts. The condition could be controlled by oral contraceptives, but because Georgetown, a Catholic university, didn't cover birth control, she had to stop taking the pills because she couldn't afford them. The cysts grew out of control, causing damage that may prevent the woman from bearing children.

Fluke said that as a "woman who uses contraceptives," her views are relevant to the discussion. That prompted Limbaugh to say on his national radio program that Fluke was asking to be paid to have sex, which makes her a "slut" and a "prostitute."

In so saying, Limbaugh insulted not only Fluke, but every woman and every parent with a daughter. Indeed, his comment is so absurd on so many levels that it's hard to decide where to begin.

First, oral contraceptives are used for many medical reasons other than birth control, and Fluke's testimony addressed one of those issues. Second, she never said she wanted to have sex. She was merely arguing that a medication for many aspects of women's health should be covered like any other. I saw Fluke's testimony, and I can't imagine any father — myself included — who would not be proud to have a daughter like that.

But remember, Limbaugh is a shill for the right wing, which is desperately trying to use the contraceptives policy to tar Obama. So Limbaugh, noted misogynist and bigot that he is, attacks a young woman in the most time-worn, insulting way. And, as with his equally degrading comments about minorities, he gets away with it.

It's time he was dealt with. I'm not talking about censorship. I defend the right of Limbaugh and every other hate-mongering creep to engage in public speech. But responsible people also have a First Amendment right to speak out about the harm such speech does to the political discourse in this country.

The interim leader of the Salt Lake County Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus recently posted on the party's Twitter page derogatory comments about Republicans, including branding GOP congressional candidate Mia Love, who is black, an "Uncle Tom."

That rightly drew outrage from Republicans, including Love's opponent for the GOP nomination, Carl Wimmer, and the head of the rightist Sutherland Institute, Paul Mero. But they were joined by Democratic Party leaders who told the offender she was no longer welcome on their page.

Now, if only more Republicans would show the same courage, and decency, to stand up and denounce Limbaugh as the bullying cretin that he is.