A Retort to Rush Limbaugh’s Apology

Or: A Pill is Not a Running Shoe (and Other Things Rush Doesn’t Understand)

So, Rush Limbaugh has — quite surprisingly — apologized to Sandra Fluke. Who is Sandra Fluke and why is Rush apologizing to her? If you don’t know, then I’m sorry, but I’m not here to rehash the whole thing. Google Ms. Fluke’s name and you’ll be able to figure it out. Short version: Sandra Fluke wants birth control and Rush Limbaugh, with his characteristic lack of regard for civility and basic common sense, called her a slut for it. Rush has since apologized, saying (in full):

“For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke. I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level. My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”

Oh, Rush. Even for someone with your history of demented logic and fulsome idiocy, this is a very special kind of risible and intellectually dishonest bilge. Did you really just compare the birth control pill to a running shoe?

Let me try to explain something: When we speak generally and generically of “birth control,” we actually do a disservice to the debate. “Birth control” is an umbrella that includes many options, procedures, and products. Some of them — and these are the ones causing a stir — are not as easy to obtain as a running shoe.

No one, for example, is calling for health insurance to cover the purchase of condoms. (No one I’m aware of, at least. If health insurance does cover condoms, then not only do I stand corrected, but nineteen-year-old Barry is due some money back from someone.) Why are condoms not part of the debate? Well, because buying condoms is a simple procedure, no more complicated than walking up to a rack of said products and answering in one’s own mind such staggering questions as: “Lubed or not? Spermicide? Latex or sheepskin? And are the ones labeled ‘MAX’ really any bigger than the other kind?”

In order to obtain, say, the birth control pill (or any other of a variety of certain birth control products), the woman in question (note: “woman”; not “slut”) cannot simply walk into a store and buy it. She must, instead, take a more complicated and expensive course, including a visit to a doctor and at least one examination, which will allow her to procure a special piece of paper entitling her to legally purchase said pill. If she wishes to continue taking the pill, she must attend regular doctor’s appointments and check-ups in order to keep getting that special piece of paper.

When, Rush, was the last time you had to get a prescription from a doctor to buy a pair of running shoes?

(This is a rhetorical question. Rush has obviously never bought a pair of running shoes in his life.)

Someday, if it’s somehow possible for women to walk into their local convenience store and stock up on birth control pills as easily as I can buy a pack of Trojans… Well, in that fanciful future, maybe health insurance paying for such things won’t make much sense. But I don’t see that day on the horizon, and while I’m no veteran prognosticator, I feel pretty good betting on this one.

So, in the meantime, as long as “birth control” (by which, again, we mean those forms that require medical permission/supervision) isn’t as easy and as convenient as a pair of running shoes (I can’t believe I’m typing this sentence), it should be covered by health insurance.

Just like everything else that requires medical permission/supervision.

Now, is it OK to discuss birth control in the context of morality? Well, personally I think it’s a dead-end conversation, but if you want to do it, go ahead. (Er, you are aware it’s 2012…right?)

But there’s no need to sink to the level of name-calling.

And, yes, I’m fully aware that I could have written this entire piece without taking an entirely gratuitous and ungracious swipe at Mr. Limbaugh’s weight. But I did it anyway. You know why?

Because I’m tired of people who lambast and name-call and only retreat when they have to, having already gotten their perverted rocks off at beating up on people who don’t deserve it and don’t have the means to fight back on the same level. In other words: Because fat fuckers who try to slut-shame women to score ratings haven’t earned my courtesy.

(To see the comment thread from the old barrylyga.com, click here. If you want to add to the conversation, use the comment form below.)

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