Political talk show host Rush Limbaugh set liberals' hair on fire last week when he called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute.‘ Fluke had been called to speak in front of a congressional hearing last minute, replacing a previously vetted choice. Predictably, this ignited a firestorm of protests from the usual suspects.
Some of his largest advertisers have not pulled out, including AOL. People online and on cable news are begging for Limbaugh to be fired, all the while applying pressure for more advertisers to jump ship. Oh, the righteous indignation!
I wonder where these people were in 2008 when then-MSNBC host Keith Olbermann suggested beating Hillary Clinton, literally, as a way to end the Democratic primary.
It’s time for a few news flashes. Limbaugh committed no FCC violations. The FCC does not regulate comments that are perceived to be racist or sexist. No matter how offensive it may have been, it is protected speech. Knowing that, protestors had to find another way to go after those who they did not agree with.
Welcome to the age of advertiser intimidation.
The outraged will cry out that while people have the freedom to say whatever they want, they in turn have the freedom to protest that which they disagree with. Absolutely. That’s also protected by the First Amendment. It becomes an infringement upon free speech when those that do not like you or what you are saying use mob tactics to intimidate your advertisers or employers.
Today, if you say something that someone else personally does not like, they can use whatever means are at their disposal to try and rob you of your livelihood. Whether it came from a king, a government or another citizen, the First Amendment was written to protect against such detriments to one's livelihood, and their pursuit of happiness. Years ago, people just changed the station. After that, they suddenly stopped hearing things that they didn’t like anymore.
In the age of political correctness and Occupy Wall Street, people need to realize there is no guarantee in America that protects someone from having their feelings hurt. The First Amendment protects speech. It doesn’t protect feelings.
Why would the First Amendment protect speech that everyone enjoys? If someone goes on the air and says something that no one takes issue with, why does that need to be protected? It doesn’t, because no one has a problem with it. This is It America, and speech like that needs to be allowed, no matter who may find it distasteful.
The outraged also say how this is nothing more than the market deciding, which it is not. Clear Channel yanking him off the air because of a sudden 60% drop in the ratings would be an example of the market deciding.
Like it or not, Limbaugh is in the same vein as Bill Maher, Adam Corolla, Opie and Anthony, Laura Ingraham, Snoop Dog, Louis C.K.., Tracy Morgan, and Howard Stern. Regardless of the views they express or how they present them, they all provide entertainment. They are all performers, and the free speech of a performer is all they have. Once you begin to selectively place limits, you begin picking favorites by default, another thing the First Amendment was designed to protect.
Limbaugh’s comments cannot be likened to yelling fire in a movie theater, unless they are using the airwaves to start a call to arms. If Limbaugh had crossed that line, repeated some choice Michael Richards’ lines, or committed a serious violation of FCC regulations, then yes a firing would have been appropriate.
Sadly, it comes from both sides. Conservative protestors picketed outside of NBC when David Letterman made a joke about one of Sarah Palin’s daughters. Even alleged ‘conservative’ View host Elisabeth Hasselbeck cried victory when Don Imus was fired for a tasteless joke he told on air. (It should be noted, that rumors of Hasselbeck’s conservatism are still unfounded to this day.)
On a final note, it’s good to reflect on how these kind of protests can come from a sourch with rather questionable credentials. When Don Imus was fired in 2007, it was Al Sharpton who led the charge. That’s right, THAT Al Sharpton. The Al Sharpton who had talked about ‘White Interlopers’ and ‘Greek Homos.’ The Al Sharpton who now has a voice on MSNBC.
We have to allow it all, or admit that double standards are what some of us what. If you don’t like what someone is saying, turn the dial.
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