Rush-ing to Judgment

In Christianity, Politics on March 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I feel like a neglectful mother, having let so much time pass between posts on this blog. But rest assured I was not lazing around on the Riviera with a cocktail in one hand, spending my days ordering around a succession of butlers and selecting sequined swimwear. In fact life has been pretty eventful over the past few months at Chez Much, plus I’ve been posting on my other blog project, so time got away from me. But here I am again, and what has inspired me to write today? None other than, and I never thought I’d say this, Rush Limbaugh.

As you may have heard, Rush Limbaugh has come under fire (and, may I say, deservedly so) for referring to a female Georgetown law student who testified before a House committee as a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she was speaking in support of the Democratic national health care policy that would require her Jesuit institution to cover birth control under its health insurance plan. What bums me out about this? That part of what he said was right — but it will never be civilly addressed because it came from the mouth of a hypocritical, undereducated, misogynistic buffoon. My parents used to listen to his radio show, for no other reason than to attempt to treat hypotension non-pharmacologically, I believe, but I could never tolerate more than a minute of his vitriol before diving for the radio dial with the desperation of a starving man presented with, say, a perfectly cooked French fry.

Look, I didn't really want to include a picture of Rush Limbaugh.

What I find very frustrating about this whole situation is that Limbaugh’s basic opposition to this issue is correct. It is absolutely absurd, and a clear violation of the liberty to which this country pays so much lip service, to openly require a religious organization to provide something to which it has consistently and clearly been opposed. To speak specifically about the players in this case, Georgetown University is a Catholic institution. By virtue of that history, they believe that contraception is wrong. Just because other people don’t — even if a majority of others don’t — it is 100% unjustifiable to mandate that Georgetown go against their long-stated beliefs. And we should all be frightened if this law comes to pass. Is the freedom of each of us safe only if everyone else agrees with what we think?

To be clear, I do not believe birth control is wrong. And I do believe in universal healthcare. I’ve seen too many patients lose their homes and everything they own because they were unlucky enough to be diagnosed with cancer or get hit by a car. Make no mistake, this isn’t just a problem for poor people (as if that would make it OK to ignore) — we are all in danger of the exact same thing happening to us. That’s because very few of us in this country can afford even one medical catastrophe, but insurance company lobbyists stir up politicians to oppose government healthcare by ranting about the right to “healthcare choice”; as if my right to choice is more important than others having any healthcare at all. Healthcare is not like car insurance, either — you’re not likely to go bankrupt because of one car accident, but you very possibly could once your medical insurance company decides they don’t feel like paying to treat your chronic disease anymore. That being said, I don’t agree that supporting universal healthcare means compelling all institutions to follow a liberal worldview. I do not personally believe that birth control is wrong, but I do believe in someone else’s right to believe that it is wrong. And just as they are not able to prevent others from using birth control, so too should others not be able to force them to provide it.

But it’s really quite aggravating that the person who called attention to this had to be Rush Limbaugh, for crying out loud. I don’t understand why Republicans allow such morally repugnant people — Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, etc. — to be their spokesmodels. Limbaugh is a hypocrite who railed on drug users while concealing his own addiction, is on his fourth marriage, and is cruel to others. Solely on the basis of his treatment of other people, he should be disqualified from having a platform. (Of course there are Democrats who, by the same criterion, should also be denied an audience. Believe me, I ain’t partisan.) There is no way anyone could argue that the way he spoke of Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown student, was the way a Christian should speak about a fellow human being. There is no way. And he has done it again, and again, and again. At this point, if he wants people to actually listen to any good points he has to make, he should probably not be the one to say them. Because he had to be such a jerk about it, everyone is now just assuming that if he said something, it can’t have been a valid point at all. Thanks a lot, Rush.

The political terrain I inhabit — social conservatism, fiscal liberalism — is kind of a lonely place to be, at least in the U.S. I don’t know if another country out there has a political party that would fit me. I believe abortion and guns are wrong, and I believe social programs and spiritual families are right, among other things. To me it seems a very logical manifestation of a Christian mindset: help the poor and your fellow man, adhere to Biblical morals, don’t promote violence. But obviously very few people feel the same, since I don’t fit either of the major two American parties. That’s OK, because we’re theoretically allowed to disagree. But the poison-filled atmosphere we now seem to live in is choking civil discourse to death, and it’s a little scary. Have you perused the comments section of any major website lately? I actually had to ban myself from reading them anymore. The hate directed towards anyone who dares open their mouth gives me chest pain. But we can’t give in to bullying, from either side, and abandon our values just to have an easier life.

Ultimately, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you believe birth control is fine (as I do), then enjoy your right to live as you please. But enjoying that right means that you also have the duty to respect others’ rights to live by their beliefs. Just as they cannot compel you to stop, you cannot compel them to start. And if it’s that important to you to have your school cover your contraception, realize that there are very few places in this country that won’t do that. Be fair to everyone and, rather than demanding that a centuries-old institution bend to your will … because who knows who will one day demand that you bend to their will? … don’t go to Georgetown.

  1. Just one word comes to mind when thinking about Limbaugh…charlatan. Few could completely obscure a reasonably cogent point amidst an avalanche of jackassedness a la Rush.

  2. Love this post! Finally, you are writing again!

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