Here’s what I think: it’s awfully hard not to have a blind spot about people you don’t like.
And it’s awfully hard not to have a blind spot about people who make your skin crawl.
Nevertheless. We can’t be all “Woo hoo, advertisers are pulling support from Rush Limbaugh’s program!” and all “Boooo! Paypal threatens to pull support from Smashwords for publishing erotica!” at the same time without being hypocrites.
But wait, we say! The circumstances are this: Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke all kinds of nasty names just because she’s pro-birth control (and because he’s a sexist pig), but PayPal is censoring books! That’s totally different, right?
The circumstances are always different. That’s why we have principals, to guide us through the various circumstances that might occur.
Those advertisers who are pulling out of supporting the show…first spent a lot of money supporting the show (whether directly or indirectly). They don’t get off “clean” by dropping him now, just because he crossed a line–Rush Limbaugh crosses all kinds of lines; that’s what they paid him for. The advertisers paid him to say things that were just short of what he said about Sandra Fluke, all the time, because that’s what got the listeners to hear the ads.
To pull out now? That’s just because they’re getting pressured by people to pull out because people who mostly don’t listen to the show and aren’t the show’s intended audience are offended by the show. Not because they had any real philosophical problem with Rush Limbaugh. Sound familiar?
But that’s just part of business, right? To be able to chose where and how you spend your advertising dollars, or who you hire, or yadda yadda yadda.
Is it? Is it really just part of business when Focus on the Family calls for its members to boycott Spongebob Squarepants? It is really just part of business when advertisers pull support on a show if you find out one of the characters is gay? Is it really just part of business when PayPal says, “Cut the porn”? Is it really just business when Catholic hospitals refuse to perform abortions? Is it really just business when you’re not hired or promoted based on your perceived differences from the ideal?
Either it’s part of business or it isn’t. But you can’t have it both ways.
I say it’s reprehensible for people to pressure someone to stop speaking. You cannot make Rush or the attitudes he espouses disappear by getting him fired. Again, the advertisers already crawled in bed with Rush. They already indicated their support. If there had not been a public outcry, they wouldn’t have changed their money. All you can do is lash out at him and widen the political divide. I think Rush is a bully and a brainwasher: and I feel ashamed of being so pleased at first that he was being bullied right back. But, really, it just makes him stronger, because he is an entertainer*, and because part of his entertainment value is the fact that he pisses people off. Despite the loss of advertising dollars, he performed his function very well.
So stop doing the happy dance that Rush’s advertisers are spineless and leaving him high and dry; they’ll be back, or others will, because people listen to him. And you’re just supporting the same thing that happened when the Smashwords porn got pulled: it’s just a them instead of an us that it’s happening to, and it’s mostly just likely to garner him more support. Mock him. Mr. Viagra deserves to be mocked. But don’t make him a martyr, don’t increase his “value” as an entertainer, don’t ennoble him by bullying him back.
*Also, I don’t get the debate about whether he’s an entertainer or not. Apparently, he’s too powerful to be “just” an entertainer. Please. As though entertainment had no meaning or resonance, as though being an entertainer meant he could have no real influence. If that were the case, why do we care what’s being suppressed on Smashwords? If entertainment meant nothing, why would we care when books were censored at all?