Monthly Archives: March 2012

The way we respond to Rush Limbaugh

There’s a new anti-Limbaugh petition, calling for advertisers who temporalily dropped their ads from Rush Limbaugh’s show to make that drop permanent. I haven’t signed it.

At what point does activism become bullying? That the question I’m pondering. This started when Limbaugh made some asshole misogynistic comments on his show – standard behavior for him. It was terrible and lots of people spoke out about it. They called on Republicans to repudiate the remarks. They signed petitions to that effect. This was all well and good.

Then they called for Limbaugh’s advertisers to pull out of his show. Many did. But already I found this to be a bit of a stretch – as if we were holding the advertisers morally responsible for Limbaugh’s words. Limbaugh is the one who’s being a terrible person; the advertisers are just marketing their products to their target demographic.

Admittedly, I begin to see the point of moralizing the advertising when I consider that advertising brings money, and thus support, to Limbaugh’s show. So perhaps the advertisers should feel bad about this. Perhaps they should want to withdraw their support.

But here’s the thing – what if they don’t? It seems to me you can only go so far in telling someone (or a group of people) that they “should feel bad” about something. You can only go so far when it comes to dictating someone else’s conscience for them. The purpose of these petitions is essentially to shame the advertisers into leaving the show. Is that really the right answer? I’m not convinced.

And there’s one more issue at stake here. I get the feeling from the tone of discourse about Limbaugh that a lot of people would be happy to see his show go off the air. I would, too – but only if that was because people stopped listening to it. I don’t want to see the show forced off the air. Limbaugh has a right to say appalling things, and we have a right to declaim him for it. But silencing someone is bullying. To force a show off the air is to act as if we have something to fear from words, and bad ideas, and insults. We don’t. Every time someone says something that is wrong, that provides us with an excellent opportunity to say what is right. To quote Johann Hari in his excellent piece on free speech:

The solution to the problems of free speech – that sometimes people will say terrible things – is always and irreducibly more free speech. If you don’t like what a person says, argue back. Make a better case. Persuade people. The best way to discredit a bad argument is to let people hear it.

So I say, let Limbaugh keep talking. He isn’t a threat – he just helps us make our case.

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this.



Filed under Free Speech, Human Rights

Global warming? Don’t worry – God’s got our backs

I have just learned, via Jerry Coyne’s blog, that Republican senator Jim Inhofe (Okla.) is promoting a new book about how global warming is a hoax, and he quotes Genesis 8:22 as one of the reasons why he knows this. He explains the quote during a recent interview for a christian radio program:

Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ my point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.

“God’s still up there.” In other words, God put us on the Earth for a reason, and he isn’t going to let our species eradicate itself. So there’s no need to worry about climate change.

You know, I used to believe this exact same thing. I have always been an environmentally conscious person, concerned with recycling and eliminating waste. But these matters always seemed, to me, to be about keeping the planet clean and beautiful. Global warming, on the other hand, was about keeping the planet livable. And while I always accepted that humans could make the planet worse, when it came to the proposition that humans could destroy the planet or make it unlivable entirely, my belief in god diminished what would have been a completely reasonable concern. After all, God wouldn’t let us destroy ourselves!

This was in the time just before global warming became a popular concern, and before An Inconvenient Truth was released, so – in my defense – I did not yet know all the facts. I like to think that I would not have been dumb enough to deny the dangers of climate change even in the face of the facts, but religious belief does often function in an incredibly reality-denying way. Senator Inhofe must, at this point, know the facts, and no doubt has done his best to ignore them. I’m sure his party affiliation, and the Republicans’ general anti-science stance, has something to do with it. It would also be interesting to see which lobbyists have been putting money in his pocket recently. But regardless of these other competing interests, a point must be made: it is not possible to be truly concerned about climate change, and the possibility of ruining the inhabitable Earth, if you also believe that God has your back and will not let this happen to you.

This is one of the problems with religion – it entails believing things that are untrue, and such beliefs always have effects on the real world.


Filed under Creationism, Religion, Science

More lolz from people who are afraid of teh gayz

Readers may recall that back in October, I posted an email I received from a hilarious group known as Public Advocate of the United States, who think that the “radical homosexual lobby” is seeking to destroy American life as we know it. I’ve gotten more emails since then, and they are always incredibly overblown with fearmongering and the persecution complex of Public Advocate’s president, Eugene Delgaudio. Here’s an excerpt from one of them:

Sometimes, I am afraid that without your support, I too will be forced to give in to the Radical Homosexual Lobby and stop fighting against their perverted agenda. My friends, I am tired. My health is suffering under the strain of fighting the Radical Homosexual Lobby with limited help.  I can’t eat, I can’t sleep and I am sick with worry.

Oh noes! The poor guy – he’s making himself sick working so hard at his bigotry.

But maybe he isn’t so poor, after all. According to one blogger’s recent report, Public Advocate is most likely a one-man show, and Eugene Delgaudio is making upwards of $170,000 a year asking other people for money. Apparently there are enough people who are frightened by Delgadio’s “teh gayz are in our country, destroyin’ all our valuez”  schtick that they will give him money to combat the growing Gay Scare!

It just goes to show you – you can’t assume an organization is legitimate (or even extant) just because someone made up a website claiming so (a really ugly one, at that). And for god’s sake don’t give your money to these people. Eugene Delgaudio is a fraud, and hopefully he’ll get in trouble for it sooner rather than later.

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Filed under Funny

A new documentary about saving sex for marriage (or not)

Here’s a documentary I’d love to see get made! (And I can certainly identify with the sentiment expressed in the title…)

Jesus, Don’t Let Me Die Before I’ve Had Sex

This will be:

a feature-length documentary examining the sexual teachings of the Evangelical Church and exploring the undercurrent of idealism that leaves many people feeling frustrated and confused. Told in an honest and fair fashion, the movie will paint a picture of what is taught explicitly and implicitly by showing how churchgoers react to those teachings through anecdotes of first kisses, chastity rallies and secret obsessions. Along side these stories will be interviews of pastors reflecting on their own teachings, as well historians and sociologists diagramming the evolution of sexual teaching in the Church.

It sounds like a candid look at how teens being raised in evangelical christian households react to the idea that they must wait until their wedding day to have sex. We already know that most do not wait, but it would be interesting to hear evangelical teens’ thoughts on the matter, and how they decided that following this particular prescription either was or wasn’t for them.

They’re trying to raise funds for the documentary on Kickstarter. Consider helping out if you like the idea.

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Filed under Religion, Sex