Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Beating the Rush

So... apparently Rush Limbaugh made another comment that people who don't routinely listen to him would find offensive. Which, I'd always thought, was his stock in trade. But it's spurred national Democrats into action, and as someone who went to a fundraiser back in the day, I found multiple e-mails in my inbox, exhorting me to stick it to him.

The basic message was pretty simple:

A rape apologist does not deserve a national platform. Rush’s comments that sometimes “no means yes” are wrong and damaging to our national discourse.

Can you help us get Rush off the air by demanding his sponsors pull their ads??
There’s only one problem. Even if I thought that Limbaugh was actually telling his male listeners that, if they want sex with a woman, that they should proceed despite being told that they should desist, and thus were inclined to denounce him for promoting rape, I don’t know who his sponsors are. The e-mails don't say - they simply offer a link to an online petition. (A link that, judging from its length and cryptic nature, likely has my e-mail address encoded into it...) Maybe this is just because I’m not in the media business, but if someone presented me with a “petition” that was basically just a bunch of people clicking a link, none of whom were likely listeners to the show in question, I’d simply ignore it.

Now, if I knew the names of the sponsors in question, I could make a decision whether or not to place them on my “Do Not Buy” list. Which, by myself, wouldn’t really make any difference. But if a lot of people did it, it could bring about change, as companies tend to be sensitive to things that impact the bottom line. While simply having to click a link makes things much easier for me, it also more or less reduces the whole thing to an exercise in slacktivism, removing any need to.

P.S.: As for Limbaugh, it really doesn’t sound like he’s advocating that men simply ignore any objections from women that they wish to sleep with. He’s mocking a policy that strikes him as overly fussy and falling back on the old trope that sometimes women send mixed messages or don’t say what they really mean. While such comments are often used as cover by people intent on acting in bad faith, it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that Limbaugh is acting as a “rape apologist.” Instead, what he’s doing, and I suspect quite deliberately, is seeking to undermine “no means no” and cast informed, intentional and unambiguous consent as a standard for sexual activity as part of a feminist/liberal trap for “real men.” Which, honestly, is bad enough on its own. I’m surprised that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee felt the need to trump up the charge from there.

P.P.S.: There seems to be a pretty good database of companies that run spots during Rush Limbaugh's show here. If you’re interested, you can add them to your own “Do Not Buy” list. As I've just done with, as an example, what had been my favorite airline, Alaska.

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