Jane and Gloria, You Do Not Speak For Me

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By Mindy Kittay of Boulder, Colorado, via Wikimedia Commons

I am most people’s idea –and possibly caricature –of a left-leaning journalist. I vote Democrat with few exceptions. And I certainly have supported the aims and the careers of Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem.

So it is with sadness that I report that they, at least for the moment, have descended into weak-mindedness bordering on imbecility. They should be ashamed of themselves.

This just isn’t how this nation works. You don’t ask the government to shut up somebody whose views you don’t like. Fonda and Steinem should know that. They’ve said things that others found extreme and unpalatable. They’ve been treated roughly for that. But most people understood that they had a right to say their piece.

When I was on WTIC, as its primary liberal alternative to the otherwise right wing programming, my bosses called me in once or twice for conversations that began: “You have to understand that there are people who hate you. They hate you worse than anybody hates anybody else we have on the air.”  And then they would remind me that those people would look for any excuse to file an FCC complaint against me and that I should be careful about handing them rope to hang me with (all the while continuing to push the envelope and keep things lively, a contradiction which sums up the never-ending dance of talk radio).  Usually these conversations would mean that somebody had filed a complaint or were threatening to.  But these complaints would, at least, be pegged to specific things I had said.  I don’t think anybody ever suggested going after WTIC’s license based on the continuing and overarching damage done by my presence on the air.

So, Women’s Media Center,  I am here to tell you (a) that it’s not mere speculation to suggest that your strategies can be used with equal zeal against people arguing for your causes and (b) even the vicious baboons I used to do battle with never attempted anything quite as arrogant and over-reaching as what you propose.

I object not only to the Constitution-trampling substance of their proposal but to its war-weary tone. The implicit suggestion is that decent people have tried everything to bring Limbaugh into line and that nothing else has worked.

I did an afternoon drive show for more than a decade. Limbaugh’s show was always wrapping up on my station as I was getting ready to go on, and I usually had my ear cocked, so I’d know what had been said in the final minutes before I opened the mic. And I was often astonished by the vitriol, the bullying, the intolerance, the invective and the transgression of what passes for basic decency in speech. And a couple of times, I even asked my bosses if they were planning to make any kind of statement — beyond the daily disclaimer — setting the station apart from what had just been said. And they looked at me, quite rightly, as if I had said something crazy.  There just never were those cascades of angry phone calls and emails as far as I could tell. The price of keeping Rush on the air was very low. People who didn’t like him just didn’t listen.

Rush opponents didn’t try everything. In fact, I’d say they barely tried anything until very recently.

You can’t ask the government to step in just because you’re losing in a certain theater of speech. You have to try to win. Liberals will probably never win on talk radio because of its McLuhanesque pre-wiring, but it doesn’t help that the other guys keep sending Jose Cansecos to the plate and you keep sending Ozzies.

Don’t misunderstand. Rush is an oily heap of garbage. He always was. Pre- and post-rehab. Pre- and post-Fluke. It’s important to fight back. But not like this. Please. You’ve embarrassed yourself. And us.

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7 thoughts on “Jane and Gloria, You Do Not Speak For Me

  1. Lynne

    Well said, Colin!
    NOTHING… and I do mean NOTHING.. is going to get Rush Lamebrain off the air. Like most things in today’s society/life, money trumps common decency in every venue.”El Rushbo” uses demeaning terms like “femin-Nazi” to refer to women whose opinions are different than his own. He once referred to Chelsea Clinton as the “other dog” in the White House (the first one being “Buddy”, the then-first family’s chocolate lab), and he has trumpeted his contempt for gays through his radio rantings, even though he had Elton John perform at his latest (but certainly not his final) wedding ceremony. He is a piece of garbage – but he makes tons of money for himself and for the radio stations who carry his venomous hate-speak on a daily basis.

    Both Gloria and Jane should know better than the average person how dangerous it is to call for that right-wing blowhard to shut up. If “Lamebrain” is made to shut up, then the same thing might happen to Jon Stewart, Steve Colbert and Bill Maher.

  2. Richard

    It’s not a new discovery for me as I believe Wingers, be they the Teabaggers on the Right or the Nutbaggers on the Left, are doppelgangers and deserve each other.

    It’s the Rock ’em, Sock ’em Robots thing. Do you want the Red one or the Blue one?

    HuffPo is an example of the new age of bigotry and censorship. Conservative comments are heavily edited and classified as hate. You have one of the new age bigots and censors here at the Courant.

    The thing that bothers me most about the Rush thing is that the Left gave up competing.

    In the case of MSNBC they’ve made a game effort to adopt the Fox concept and are getting a little more strident and openly polemic. Of course this is what they should do: become the Blue robot, embrace it fully, and entertain. By all means don’t censor. That isn’t the answer.

    I see the advertising strategy as a problem. I wonder how long the Courant tolerates their New Age bigot when the advertisers start getting calls. I don’t like that strategy but some see it as a “monkee see, monkey do” response to the Left’s aggressive attempts to throttle free and competing speech.

  3. david edelstein

    You make me think I should be calling up insane right-wing stations daily the way the insane right-wingers call center-left (or just center) stations daily. Why shouldn’t they hear from sane people? (I’m not talking about honest conservatives, if they can still be located. I’m talking about the “oily heap of garbage” and his ilk.

  4. peter brush

    OK. Let’s stipulate that Rush is provocative. He probably shouldn’t refer to ideological bullies like Gloria Steinem as “feminazis.”
    But, fact is that he was, in the Fluke Episode, pretty much correct both in his reaction to the silly law student lady and in his guess at how the use of the contraception issue by the Obamamanoids will play-out politically.
    I don’t think lefties fully realize how dumb she looked testifying to the hideous Pelosi’s Posse. Here in the Northeast and in other bastions of bien pensant progressives she looks pretty normal suggesting that her human rights are being violated if she doesn’t get insurance coverage for her pills.
    The American electorate is opposed to Obamacare, and a majority is agreeable to its repeal. Ms.Fluke’s demand that it be used as a cudgel against her religious employer (her third-party insurance-buyer) is not attractive, even to women.
    And, say what you want, fact remains; Rush apologized. Gloria never asked Klinton to apologize for any of his many offenses against Womyn Nation.

  5. ChrisB.

    I agree Colin.

    I also think the “left” is a lot more divided than most realize, or wish to admit.

    There is the pro-Obama left, which isn’t all that left at all. It’s sort of a wannabee left. And it’s every bit as authoratarian as the Right. I’m repeating myself here, but I knew we were doomed when upon Obama’s inauguration I immediately stopped getting email about antiwar rallies. The war was over. It turns out it wasn’t either of the two wars I thought it was.

    These people have all the clearheadedness of a codependent who refuses to even consider that alcohol has intoxicating properties. One mention of drone attacks on civilians, or illegal detentions. And they will turn around and kill you. They chalk everything up to pragmatism.

    Whether they want to admit it or not, it’s all about tribalism. They think they understand freedom of speech, but then they want Rush to shut the hell up. And they’ll do anything to stop him. Bill Maher on the other hand . . . is kind of funny.

    There is a an actual left though and within it exist people who to varying degrees, honestly fall on a the liberal spectrum. They can be honest with themselves about Obama and his failings, and the fact that some of his policies are actually worse the Bush/Cheney. They might just disagree on what to do about that. Especially when the threat of Rick Perry, or Rick Santorum appears on the horizon.

    I’m hoping for Romney vs. Obama. Then I don’t have to think about it much at all. And I won’t have to pretend to stand with a guy who doesn’t actually exist.

  6. equality 7-2521

    The sad thing is that we let these bozos influence our national conscience. I am embarassed that I would enter into a discussion of hidious fathead, but this is a man that openly and loudly proclamed that he did not want the wishes of a majority of our people via our elective form of government to succeed. Treason? Treason wrapped in a mantle of free speech? Just plain stupidity created by a bunch of mindless lap dogs? Uncontrolled ego?

    He should be accorded the same fate as Philip Nolan and perhaps as such, would regain a much more sane patriotism.

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