Equivalence watch: Have our guys been like their guy?

MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2012

By law, it's crazy to think that: In our view, Melinda Henneberger was right on target—strongly so—in Saturday’s Washington Post.

With considerable accuracy, she described the way the tribe gets mad—but only at those in the other tribe. Below, you see her initial description of this ancient syndrome.

We think this is very right:
HENNEBERGER (3/10/12): It’s hard to keep score in the still-escalating war on women, especially when the two sides in the fight have different standards of what’s insulting depending on who’s insulted.

The problem is that somehow, a sexist rant is only a sexist rant when it’s an attack on a woman in our own party. Otherwise, we call any comparison a “false equivalence”—and dream up creative ways in which conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut is not at all like liberal TV host Ed Schultz calling Laura Ingraham a slut.
No two acts are ever just alike. Ed Schultz's admittedly stupid act wasn't the same as Rush Limbaugh's tirade. But we’ve been amazed, in the past few weeks, by the endless ways liberals have used the concept of “false equivalence” to reject all criticism of those who play on our side.

We’ve marveled at comments in comment threads. But like Henneberger, we were also very poorly impressed by what Bill Burton said:
HENNEBERGER: Watch and learn, aspiring parsers, as Bill Burton, a former aide to President Obama and the founder of Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super PAC to which HBO’s Bill Maher has donated $1 million, insists that Maher calling Sarah Palin what many women consider the most objectionable slur to women is nothing like Limbaugh’s slurs against womankind.

As Burton told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, “The notion that there is an equivalence between what a comedian has said over the course of his career and what the de facto leader of the Republican Party said—to sexually degrade a woman who led in a political debate of our time—is crazy.”
It’s “crazy” to see a connection there! Oh sorry—to draw “an equivalence.”

For ourselves, we love Bill Maher. And no, he isn’t Rush Limbaugh—but Burton’s presentation struck us as extremely dishonest and massively crass. And Burton isn’t some guy on a comment thread. He speaks from the top of the pile.

Following the rule of three, Henneberger made her point again at the end. For ourselves, we wouldn’t throw Clinton into this stew. But her highlighted statement is apt:
HENNEBERGER: This determination to find our political adversaries guiltier of misogyny than anyone on the home team goes back at least as far as Bill Clinton, whose long history of treating women with the respect you’d show a Kleenex was and still is a topic off-limits in polite Democratic company.

I often wonder if there’s any wrong action that wouldn’t be defended by political teammates with cries of, “At least he didn’t x, y, or z, like the other guys did.” But if there is a line partisans wouldn’t cross to defend their own, I haven’t located it.
For ourselves, we wouldn’t throw Clinton into this stew; that involves comparing personal conduct (where the facts aren’t real clear) to public statements. But that highlighted statement is very apt. In the past week, many liberals have shown a great deal of skill at finding that requisite “x, y or z”—the x, z or z which proves to the world that our guy isn’t like theirs.

Which proves that it's "crazy" to think so.

Our guys have been like their guy. Within the tribe, you’d rather die than admit it.

Tumulty was on target too: We thought Karen Tumulty’s on-line post was also on-target. The comment thread is loaded with liberals who play the equivalence card.

By law, our guys can't be like their guy. By law, it's "crazy" to think that.


  1. Mr. Somerby writes:

    "Ed Schultz's admittedly stupid act wasn't the same as Rush Limbaugh's tirade."


    "For ourselves, we love Bill Maher. And no, he isn’t Rush Limbaugh—"

    Then argues that their acts are the equivalent of Limbaughs!!!

    If I recall correctly, Shultz was suspended and Maher hounded off network television (for political comments).

    I even recall David Schuster being suspended by MSNBC for saying Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out". Yes, the same MSNBC Mr. Somerby claims has been "misogeny central" for the past decade or so suspended Shultz and Shuster for going over the line.

    Mr. Somerby posits that its dangerous to try to ascribe motives yet argues he knows for a fact Hillary Clinton was defended against sexist attacks simply because of the "tribe" she belongs to.

    I don't know, maybe one of these days Mr. Somerby will admit that Hillary Clinton is not the equivalent of Carrie Prejean, in any way, shape or form, too.

    1. The Real AnonymousMarch 12, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      From a Public Policy Polling poll of 656 likely Republican voters in Mississippi and 600 likely Republican primary voters in Alabama on March 10th and 11th.

      Q22 Do you think Barack Obama is a Christian or a
      Muslim, or are you not sure?
      Christian.......................................................... 14%
      Muslim ............................................................ 45%
      Not sure .......................................................... 41%

      Do we still want to discuss whether there's an equivalent to FOX or 24/7 coast-to-coast and border-to-border hate radio?

    2. What has this got to do with anything?

    3. The Real AnonymousMarch 12, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      It could be a coincidence only around 1 in 8 Mississippi and Alabama Republicans believe Pres. Obama, but I doubt it.

  2. It helps me go to sleep at night knowing that whatever stupid or bad thing a Democrat does, we will be able to find a Republican that said or did something worse.

    It'll all be OK ... they're not the same ... they're not the same ... we're better ... our hearts ... our minds ... better ... ends justify ... the mean

  3. I don't expect people to remember anything. Ever, really. But I hope that the next time one of the liberal commentators loses his wits and calls someone a slut on the TV, he is let go and not asked back. We don't need that. That is not helpful to anyone and puts us in the lovely position we are right now of arguing out of our asses. There were liberals who got pissed as all get up at, say, Perez-Michael-Keith and wrote so in real time. But I'm just a commentator on a blog.

    Part of the reason Rush has been around so long is that liberal writers agreed with his assessment of feminists and took thrills from attacking that old feared "political correctness", and opted never to push back against those taking thrills from it on on their own side. How's that working out?

  4. Hey, why stop at Bill Maher, Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann, any of these guys? The right said Bill Clinton hated women. The right says John F. Kennedy ran through women. The right is right.

    You are right to argue the equivalence between one of the ideological leaders of the GOP, a man whom nearly every GOP politician fears so much they dare not cross him and if they do they publicly apologize, a man who has spewed radioactive racist, sexist, anti-Muslim slander over and over for years on the radio and on the major news channel out there, a propagandist who is also a known drug addict and surrendered to the authorities because he had his maid scoring illegal drugs for him, who was caught with someone else's Viagra prescription while trying to board a plane coming from a country known as a site for sex tourism;

    and a man who was thrown off a major broadcast channel for questioning the official 9/11 attacks, who NO Democratic politician pays obeisance to, who comes on one night a week on a premium cable channel that millions of Americans neither subscribe to nor can afford, a man who has repeatedly admitted that he does not belong to either party, and who has less influence than two other comedians (Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert) who also belong officially to neither party.

    Yep, they're equivalent, liberals are bad, the conservatives are right, the shark has jumped!

    1. I had a conversation with my five year old son about the difficulty of rectifying the notion that even good people can do bad things. Apparently our society is no closer to understanding this lesson than he is.

      Acting like Maher's statement and Limbaugh's tirade are not comparable is just dishonest. You can only explain the difference while comparing them. In some ways, they've sounded the same. In most, they haven't. It isn't that hard.

  5. Talk about jumpin the shark, he lauding Karen Tumulty now.

  6. There is no evidence that Bill Clinton disrespected women. The women he was involved with were willing and eager to have an affair with him. It takes two to tango. And no, Paula Jones was not sexually harassed. The only court decision to say so said that she did not prove harassment.
    At MSNBC, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann engaged repeatedly in misogyny with Hillary Clinton and progressives kept their mouths shut about because, well, it's Hillary and so that this was acceptable. It was in 2008 that I learned that progressives were ate least as capable as people on the other side of being sexist.

    1. The right said Bill Clinton sexually harassed Juanita Broaddrick and told not to worry about her pregnancy because it was sterile and she recounted this about it on NBC. Even beloved critic and hero who supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein Christopher Hitchens said her claim was credible. Even Michael Isikoff a liberal said her claim was credible.

      The right said Bill Clinton sexually harassed Katherine Willey.

      The right said Bill Clinton carried on a decades long affair with Gennifer Flowers and then lied about it.

      The right said Bill Clinton sexually abused Paula Jones. The right said Bill Clinton had sex with his intern Monica Lewinsky and lied about it under oath.

      The right said Bill Clinton hates women.

      The right is right, Bill Maher and Michael Musto have the same power over Democrats that Rush Limbaugh has over the Republican Party, so why do liberals hate women and not stand up for them the way the right does?

  7. When you ascribe to the person you are disagreeing with of presenting an "equivalence," when, instead they have made a comparison, simile, or metaphor, then you are building a strawman. You wish to deny the connection so you change the level of proof to something vaguely mathematical that cannot be achieved.

  8. A lot of these arguments liberals are making are bizarre. If it's not okay for Limbaugh to say these kinds of things, then why is it okay for Maher, Matthews, Taibbi, Olbermann, Shultz, etc to make them? You can't hide behind the old "I'm only an entertainer" troupe for Maher, Limbaugh (and Hannity) have used that for years. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    I think the reason most liberals aren't point this misogyny out for their guys is because they don't want their own sides conduct scrutinized, and their own livelihoods potentially threatened. If you criticize Olbermann or Schultz, maybe you'll never be on MSNBC. Say something mean about Maher? I guess you can forget about doing anything with Time-Warner again. Why do people think that Somerby has never appeared in a major liberal magazine or TV show? If you don't pull for team pwogressive, then you sit on the bench (or in the bleachers).

    1. The Real AnonymousMarch 12, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      Nobody is saying is saying sexism is ok.

      MSNBC even suspended Shultz and Shuster for going over the line.

      Matthews avoided suspension by apologizing profusely and to this day you can hear him on air saying, "I better not say this that way."

      However, there has never been an equivalent of Limbaugh's attacks anywhere.

      Certainly not by anyone made an honorary member of congress, like Limbaugh was, for the way his show helped Republicans win congressional elections.

      Now Mr. Somerby is saying if you didn't defend Carrie Prejean from evil Olbermann and Musto then you have no standing to question Romney's response to Limbaugh's fusillade.

      If that's what moral standing is, then I want no part of it

    2. I think Shultz and Shuster got off light, they should have been gone, as well as Olbermann, who never had anything done to him. Matthews should have been fired for all the garbage he spouted about Al Gore and HRC back in the late 1990s/early 2000s, but I guess that's all water under the bridge. Limbaugh was made an honorary member of congress (a pretty meaningless award) back in 1994, more than 15 years ago.

      Why should Romney have to condemn Limbaugh, anyway? What's his connection to him? Limbaugh doesn't like Romney because he feels he lacks any core convictions as a conservative (which is probably true). What Olbermann said about Prejean was disgusting, and where was his punishment? Liberals whined on Journolist, but when it got down to it, they kept their traps shut to keep their pockets full.

  9. The Real AnonymousMarch 12, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    "I think Shultz and Shuster got off light, they should have been gone, as well as Olbermann, who never had anything done to him."

    Then what would you recommend for Limbaugh whose on-air misogny isn't a one-off but an agenda?

    "Limbaugh was made an honorary member of congress (a pretty meaningless award) back in 1994, more than 15 years ago."

    Yes and his influence on Republican politics has increased since then. Some would argue he's the most influential Republican for almost 2 decades now.

    "Why should Romney have to condemn Limbaugh, anyway?"

    For the simple fact Limbaugh is, arguably, the most influential and most well-known Republican.

    That's the party Romney wants to represent in the upcoming presidential election.

    1. Limbaugh should have been taken off the air after he accused the Clintons of having something to do with Vince Foster's death. Reporters asking Romney about Limbaugh is just another bullshit distraction from what's important in this election, and a chance for them to clown around a while (maybe they can ask him about Seamus again, too).

  10. @Anonymous Mar 12, 2012 10:43 AM

    "When you ascribe to the person you are disagreeing with of presenting an "equivalence," when, instead they have made a comparison, simile, or metaphor, then you are building a strawman. You wish to deny the connection so you change the level of proof to something vaguely mathematical that cannot be achieved."

    And we have a winner!

    This hits the nail on the head. Most of the other comments just back up Somerby's observation that there are "endless ways liberals have used the concept of 'false equivalence' to reject all criticism of those who play on our side."

    Somerby did not draw any "equivalences." He merely pointed out a tendency for knees to start jerking whenever examples of misogyny are found on both sides of the political spectrum.

    1. The Real AnonymousMarch 12, 2012 at 3:55 PM

      Who is rejecting "all criticism" of Maher, Olbermann, etc.? They're wrong too but do not rise to Limbaugh's unhinged monologues ie there is no eqivalence.

      On the other hand it seems Mr. Somerby agrees with Limbaugh his only sin was to descend to the level of his opponents.

      This does not even begin to address how often Limbaugh lied about Fluke's remarks.

      Here's an example:

      "She's having so much sex...." (repeated a couple of dozen times)

      It also ignores Limbaugh's ignorant suggestion if women don't want their monthly bill for the pill to cost so much then have sex less often.

      That's just not how it works buddy.

    2. "On the other hand it seems Mr. Somerby agrees with Limbaugh his only sin was to descend to the level of his opponents."

      This is a complete fabrication.

    3. The Real AnonymousMarch 12, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      "This is a complete fabrication."

      No it isn't. Its an honest analysis from someone who has followed this blog since the Clinton impeachment, way before comments were allowed.

      You can't show me one passage from Mr. Somerby that states Limbaugh's offenses took political discourse to a shocking new low and consequently merit this reaction from the public and advertisers.

      His response, and I quote, is MSNBC is "misogeny central" and people only criticize those from another "tribe."

      And lets not forget his conclusion if you didn't object to Olbermann and Musto's treatment of Carrie Prejean then you can't possibly question Romney's response to Limbaugh's comments.

      Pure piffle, the kind of stuff I can hear if I want to turn on hate radio.

    4. "You can't show me one passage from Mr. Somerby that states Limbaugh's offenses took political discourse to a shocking new low"

      Most of Somerby's statements have been something close to "WE'VE BEEN HERE FOR A WHILE!" Do you honestly not see this?

      "And lets not forget his conclusion if you didn't object to Olbermann and Musto's treatment of Carrie Prejean then you can't possibly question Romney's response to Limbaugh's comments."

      The conclusion is "Why now? This sort of thing has been going on for a long time, and I've documented it. Where'd this outrage come from? And why are we acting like Limbaugh is the only one poisoning our discourse?" Keith went on for days. So did Limbaugh. For Limbaugh there was outrage. For Keith there was silence. Why can this not be acknowledged? Why ought we NOT acknowledge this?

      "Pure piffle, the kind of stuff I can hear if I want to turn on hate radio."

      The other tribe noticed some in our tribe saying similar things! They were wrong before we ever turned on the radio!

  11. My problem with equating Bill Clinton's relationships with women with Rush Limbaugh's language in describing them is that it reduces the adult women who freely engaged in sexual relationships with another adult to the status of 'victims' or 'children' incapable of acting as adult agents. In the Limbaugh case, however, it is clearly an attempt by a bully to intimidate and silence another adult who is exercising her right to free speech.

  12. When Limbaugh called Fluke (who, incidentally, gave a flagrantly dishonest presentation) a "slut," he had no evidence that this was in any way true. As far as anybody knows she is in a committed relationship or has sex occasionally with different men as any healthy young woman with normal appetites would.

    Sarah Palin on the other hand is most definitely a cunt.

    Sarah Palin is the bitch who started the whole "death panels!" meme in an effort to block health reform. In America it is estimated that 45,000 or more people die every year because they don't have access to decent health coverage. That would be 135,000 + human lives needlessly lost since Obama took office. Palin is just fine with that status quo.

    Let's not forget that prior to her efforts to prevent Americans from getting decent health care this very same twat took her own family to Canada to mooch off of their socialized system.

    If a guy did the same thing, I know I'd be calling him a dick a prick and a dork. If Palin isn't deserving of being described by her naughty bits then no one, male or female, is.

    1. Beautiful post. Funny, with facts *and* insight.

    2. What was dishonest in Fluke's presentation?

      But, yeah, you're exactly right. Calling Sarah Palin a cunt is just an insult. Calling fluke a slut and prostitute defames her character.

      This is what Maher explained on his program: (1) he has a "potty" mouth (2) calling Palin a cunt came in his 90 minute standup act, not in the context of a political discussion. If Limbaugh wants to go a do a 90min standup act, then he gets more of a license to insult.

    3. The entire GOP is a "standup act," pure nightmarish comedy, coming to a statehouse or Senate seat near you, real soon.

    4. Hieronymus Braintree:

      With friends like you, who needs enemies?

    5. Gee, I dunno, hardindr. With idiots like you, who needs morons?


      The idea that law students commonly spend a thousand per year for birth control is patently absurd. The top price for the pill out-of-pocket is $600 and practically no one pays top price. $300 is more like it. If you use condoms and have sex twice a day every day that's about $365 if you buy in bulk which would seem advisable. And, if you're going dutch on meals, then I think it's perfectly correct to ask her guy(s) to split expenses.

      One of the biggest problems I have with feminists is their tendency to grossly exaggerate legitimate issues until their own credibility becomes damaged at which point they blame misogyny for their persistent unpopularity with just about everyone including women.

    6. Because I think the "other team" are a bunch of troglodyte pea brains who have been ruining the country.

      Let me ask you a question, hardindr. I regard Dick Cheney as a prick. Does that make me a conservative too?

    7. Because I think the "other team" are a bunch of troglodyte pea brains who have been ruining the country.

      Sounds like you'd fit right in.

      Let me ask you a question, hardindr. I regard Dick Cheney as a prick. Does that make me a conservative too?

      I dunno, but I think you're a tool.

    8. Braintree here answering on a public computer:

      Hardindr, how do you figure I'd fit right in? See the thing I notice about your comments is that you have said absolutely nothing to justify them. You simply make what appear to me to be one seroiusly inane assertion after another. If I think Sarah Palin is a hateful hypocrite because she opposes healthcare reform even though it means the deaths of thousands of people and even though she pretended to be Canadian to take advantage of socialized medicine and if I regard Dick Cheneh as a prick then by what standard would I "fit right in"? Exactly how is this supposed to work?

      And exactly how am I a "tool"?

      You'd better start explaining yourself. Otherwise I'm going to be forced into deciding that you're even more retarded than I originally imagined.

      Oh, and nice job dodging my question about Cheney. There's no way I was going to notice your weaseling. I am putty in your hands.

    9. Otherwise I'm going to be forced into deciding that you're even more retarded than I originally imagined.

      R-Word Dot Org http://www.r-word.org/ good reading for you otherwise I am done

    10. hardindr,

      Once again you failed to answer my question about whether you're bothered by calling Dick Cheney a prick. In fact you haven't defended or explained one thing you've said. All you've done is attack me like a sanctimonious twit. You can say you're done with me but, from where I sit, you barely even got started.

  13. The Real AnonymousMarch 12, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    "When Limbaugh called Fluke (who, incidentally, gave a flagrantly dishonest presentation)"

    Which part of the presentation, the part about the cyst on the ovary or the part about the ovary being removed?

    Are you implying the woman in question really could have afforded the pill and lost her ovary simply to make a political statement?

  14. Somerby's strangest equivalence here is the apparently willfully idiocy of pretending that all acts are equal, even if the actors aren't, and that all objects of scorn or contempt are also equal (again, even if they're not).

    Bill Maher (to take the most illustrative case) is of zero consequence in American political discourse. He's a comedian who happens to be on cable TV, and claims to vote liberal. If liberals are obliged to make apologies for his comments, or bewail his words in public, they might as well install listening devices in local bars, and make apologies for any insensitive comments heard there.

    K.O., similarly, was and is a cipher in American public life, has no official or unofficial identification with the Democratic party and is long-time employee of major media conglomerates which are not answerable to liberals.

    What does either one have to do with liberalism or politics in America?

    And let's take it one step further: are we so terrorized, and so politically correct, that we're not willing to say that there's no difference between the deserts of Sarah Palin and Ms. Fluke? That, in a frequently crude public discourse, they may not be entitled to exactly the same courtesy?

    Imagine, for example, Bob in the pre-Nazi world of Weimar Germany. Here he is, finger-wagging at the liberal opposition for its unkind coverage of the Nazis -- sure, there are some crazies like Limbaugh (who are actually telling the truth about it,) but if you read the Nazi Party policy papers, they make some good points, no need to demonize anyone, they're folks just like us.

    If this comparison seems extreme, note the American Republican party is far, far to the right of any so-called "conservative" party in any other industrialized democracy, in this or the last century. It's utterly without precedent.

    But don't you know, there just like us....

    1. And Godwin's law...

      How are things the same and how are they different? We may never ask, and we may never know. Until then, let's all kill some Nazis.

    2. At what point, anon 08:13, do you conclude that there's nothing to be said to the opposition -- that it's a suborned and dishonest movement, and that while nobody but you is talking about killing, the traditional liberal strategies (Mondale, Dukakis, Kerry, Obama, E.J. Dionne, Bob Herbert, Bob Somerby, etc.) simply won't work?

      This conclusion shouldn't be all that difficult to reach: who funds this right-wing movement? What are its interests? Should we be all that surprised, given those interests, that we've arrived at this impasse?

      Of course, we can pretend that this is a college debating society, and that these arguments don't have life and death consequences. And it's an additional misfortune that the Democratic party is almost as depraved as the Republican one, and that the "liberal" figures we're being asked to apologize for here are buffoons and self-appointed (or, rather, corporate-appointed) spokespersons.

      But no matter: we simply can't have this discussion. We simply MUST pretend that there are two sides to every issue, and that both sides are honest.

      How's it workin out for you, so far?

    3. "At what point, anon 08:13, do you conclude that there's nothing to be said to the opposition"

      When you have dehuminized the opposition.

  15. Bob, Melissa -- There was plenty of criticsm of Ed Shultz's insult to Laura Ingraham; he was suspended, if you'll recall. The incident occurred, I think, 10 months ago. So why is Ms. Henneberger bringing it up now? Could it be that it enabled her to write a good, old-fashioned self-righteous column about who should be saying what about whom, while managing to stay well above the fray? Personally, I don't give a damn about Bill Maher, Ed Schultz, Rush Limbaugh, or Melinda Henneberger. While you guys are all arguing about who's worse than whom, lots and lots of women are being humiliated and endangered by the actions of the states they live in. Talk about that for a while, will you? Yes I know your beat is the media, Bob, and I'd love to see you turn your insights on how our press covers -- or fails to cover -- reproductive rights issues.

  16. Bob's thesis is illustrated by the way WaPo and CBS covered up Louis C.K.'s foul language.

    Both the Washington Post and CBS whitewashed the bouncing Louis C.K.’s from entertaining the Radio and Television Correspondents Association at their annual fund-raiser on June 8.

    The comedian called Sarah Palin the c-word many, many times....

    Louis C.K. says of Palin: “her f*** retard making c***” and “the baby that just came out of her f**** disgusting c***.”
    To Palin: just “stick your t** in its mouth and shut up.”
    And here is more: ”…her f***** retard making c****”

    In reporting Louis CK's pullout from this event, neither CBS nor WaPo described his truly foul language. They simply presented him as controversial.


  17. SmallMindzHobgoblinMarch 12, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    If it were SO obvious that Chris Matthews was saying something WRONG about the Clintons in the 1990s then wouldn't it be CLEAR ENOUGH after 13 years that Somerby wouldn't still have to constantly refer to the unethical coverage of Gore-Clinton all these years later in what seems obsessive detail?

    Secondly... the reason why Rush Limbaugh gets away with this.. and after two weeks.. will likely skate away again.. is that NO ONE TAKES HIM TO TASK FOR WHAT HE MEANS... Ed Shultz did NOT criticize Laura Ingraham's sexual behavior. He was criticizing her lack of ethics as a broadcaster... accusing her of saying the things she does because she takes money from big corporations. Rush Limbaugh wasn't being IRONIC in calling Fluke a "slut".. he was being LITERAL!!!

    As for Olbermann... Perez Hilton.. Michael Musto... erm.. TWO of these things are not like the other.. two of them are gay gossip columnists.. I was about to call them two CATTY gay gossip columnists.. but then I'd be being REDUNDANT!!! I've read the Village Voice for 25 years.. the language in the paper by Dan Savage, Musto, and other gay writers is extremely frank, sexually explicit, and fearlessly profane. That's what Keith was inviting on his show.. and maybe he shouldn't have. He can be a thoughtless prick at times when interviewing people.. but then again so can Leonard Lopate(check out this afternoon's interview with Kristen Johnson). Michael Musto was there to deliver some .. yes I'm gonna say it.. BITCHY commentary about Carrie Prejean because she said to the OTHER gay gossip columnist that she was against gay marriage which both men support strongly. So.. besides what Somerby sees as untoward misogynist insults which are used every single day in the gay community to describe men, women, and paint colors ... they were ultimately saying she was a hypocrite and a homophobe.

    Now.. is it right to suggest that ALL people who oppose gay people and gay rights do so because they are terrified of gay people or terrified that they might be gay? No it isn't. But have you used the term homophobia to diminish those who oppose gays and gay rights and put them on the defensive in arguments with them? Hopefully not... but if you DO.. then you have done no better and no worse than anything Olbermann or Schultz did. Obermann denounced the 21 year old beauty queen in the same way that the doctors in the movie MASH pulled down the shower tent over Hot Lips Houlihan.. or the men in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest cussed out Nurse Ratched who after all was just doing her job and was unapologetic about it. So in that case. our literature is full of stories of groups of men bonding over the destruction of a "castrating" female authority figure by demeaning her and unmasking her inner failure as a human being.

    Then the series MASH came on and Alan Alda reoriented the characterizations so that by the end every episode was about Hot Lips.. ahem.. Margaret discovering her power as an independent woman. Hooray.. the OTHER side gets heard.. the case for women is made. Nowadays Jack Nicholson would have gotten kicked in the n*** by Nurse Ratched who would now be played by a harried and makeup free Jennifer Anniston in a role she was BORN to play!

    All that to say.. I too REJECT the moral equivalence here. This is the game that Breitbart trained his acolytes to play. A parody on the very political correctness that originated as a critique from WITHIN the left... being so hung up on words, phrases, and appearances that you OVERLOOK THE SUBSTANCE. The SUBSTANCE is that calling someone a "MEDIA WHORE" is not the same thing as calling someone a "WHORE"! And the point is that you have minor forums where you can actually counter what Maher says on the left... try countering Limbaugh on the Limbaugh Letter or on Free Republic.. you can go right to HBO or Democratic Underground or Demos and call out Maher!

  18. David in Cal -- What you miss about the Louis CK rant you quote is that Louis CK is a fairly edgy comic more interested in making us laugh at hyperbolic foul language than he is of genuinely characterizing that bitch, sorry, Gov. Palin. He jokes that when his little daughter annoys him he shouts "Fuck you!" at her. David, Louis CK does not really shout "fuck you" at his little daughter.

    Yes, he doesn't belong at the correspondents dinner -- his humor is deeply offensive to hypocrites, weasels and liars.

    1. Anonyomous -- Personally, I don't get upset by hyperbolic foul language on either poliltical side or by comics. I think Louis CK's talk was canceled to avoid the obvious comparison with Rush Limbaugh. If the Limbaugh kerfuffle weren't going on, I imagine Louis CK would have spoken as planned.

      However, the speaking invitation shows that radio and TV correspondents were not actually concerned about foul language. The examples of Louis CK, Maher, etc. show that those who are attacking Limbaugh aren't sincerely upset by his use of the words "slut" and "whore'. They're using those words as an excuse to attack someone on the other side.

  19. ... I left out a point I was going to make which was.. I don't defend crude talk.. it offends a lot of people who may find it inappropriate to the context they hear it in even if they use it themselves in private. But just TRY doing a google search on Anita Bryant.. there are decades of "C" word attached to this woman's name by members of the "tribe" or "clan" that is the left wing coaliton. we view these attacks differently, rightly or wrongly, because the left does play a scissors, paper, rock game with offensiveness. anti-black racism trumps sexism against groups higher up on the social privilege scale trumps critiques of drag queens off the highway exit. It depends on whose ox is being gored(excuse the expression).

    But it SHOULD depend on that sometimes. The use of language.. free political speech is profoundly nuanced sometimes. Look at the right wingers.. how many right wing born agains spend YEARS studying the Bible in ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic because the change of just ONE letter can TOTALLY change the meaning of a Biblical verse.. but these SAME people have NEVER heard Rush Limbaugh say anything against black people. And when people on the left.. like Tumulty or Kirsten Powers(is she actually a Democrat??? is she a Ben Nelson sort of Democrat?), or Somerby strap on the "foolish consistency grenade" and set it off while we're slashing the other side they always manage to make their escape so that they can continue pouring tons of sludge down the mountain while we politely look for a place to empty our chamber pots downstream.

    For goodness sake.. these are politics not law school lectures. As Chris Christie said.. "if you act that way in a court of law your ass will be hauled into jail... IDIOT!" that's the kind of s*** that makes Christie one of the most popular politicians in the country. He isn't even trying to be fair or consistent.. EXCEPT that his political arrows are ALWAYS fired forward and hit their mark. That's got to be our only criteria too. Anyone who watches Olbermann's show and misses the voices that he brings on and the interviews he does with them.. and then get hung up on the "Worst Persons In the World" as if the man was named as the DECLARER OF WORSTS by GOD HIMSELF.. and confuses that with Limbaugh sealed in his garbage can all day spewing out UNAMBIGUOUS HATRED towards a select group of social targets as he has done for a QUARTER OF A CENTURY and confuses the two should lose their political analysis license.

    Yeah... let Michelle Malkin make the INVASION face again and may Andrea Tantaros flip her head back so hard she gets whiplash. Let Megyn Kelly do the Jan Brady face until it freezes in that position and FAUX is forced to fire her. I'm sorry that Taibbi goofs on Tumulty or Candy Crowley(guess you missed Rush's elongation of THAT name back in 2004) but again.. Taibbi doesn't spend his articles telling us that women with certain haircuts and body types are destroying our precious bodily fluids as Limbaugh does!

  20. Interesting commentary on this issue by Stanley Fish in the New York Times. Fish points out the same double standard and tribalism that Bob does. However, Fish says it's OK to hold one's enemies to a different standard, concluding his column:

    It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.

    Fish is clever and persuasive. However, commenter JohnB points refrutes Fish thusly:

    The real problem with double standards is that they are hypocritical.

    You point to an enemy and say he has done a bad thing. But you are lying! You don't really believe that the thing itself is bad, because you excuse it when your own friends do it.

    The thing is, if I am undecided, your hypocrisy undermines your credibility with me. If I find out that your are willing to lie to hurt your enemies, then why should I believe ANYTHING you have to say about them?

    1. FamishedCaususBelliMarch 14, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      by this logic... no army could be accused of committing atrocities because BOTH armies have guns. Obviously.. there are rules of engagement. Limbaugh is being called out for attacking a woman asserting her right to contraception by saying that a woman who would openly do that is essentially a prostitute. he has a right to his opinion. in my opinion, he has a right to whatever language he wants to use. but he is articulating a point of view that he wants to get across.

      the proper response is to attack his point of view which is what is offensive and what is being decried. the shock value of the word "slut" IN THAT CONTEXT is useful towards widening the implication of a major Republican Party figure (propogandist) taking this attitude towards something many American women take as their right.

      if you don't view my belief that this is a right that should be respected, deferred to and maintained as credible.. then so be it.. but there is no double standard as the only similarity between the two things is the language to which many of us do not object .. and women use the term "slut" so frequently it is clearly not the issue here and it is breitbartian diversion to even claim it as such!

  21. Sexism among liberals has been visible to those of us on the outside for a long while now and it hasn't gotten better in recent years. Schultz getting suspended was more a product of the evolution of corporate culture and brand protection than it was the result of outrage from liberals.

    No, Maher calling Palin the C-word isn't the same thing as a 3-day tirade against a non-famous woman, but would liberals be willing to mount a decent protest against him? They haven't, and feminists who have been paying attention have noticed and know that liberals love to say they're great on all these issues even though they have a lot of work to do.

    It reminds me of that scene from "The Help," where the one really racist woman says to the journalist, "You shouldn't be reading those things. I don't care, but there are some real racists in town..." There's always someone more sexist, more homophobic, more racist than you or the people on your team are, but that doesn't mean you get to give up on self-improvement and start to exclusively call out others.

    It's a lot more fun, I know, to point the finger at someone who doesn't fly your flag (look at how the US calls out human rights abuses that it commits, but only when other countries do them), but more change will happen when people look a little more inward.

    That said, I don't get the Clinton comparison either, mainly because I wasn't raised in Edwardian England and don't see consensual sexual relationships as an "insult." But Henneberger is anti-choice, so she doesn't have much concern for women's autonomy in the grand scheme of things either.

  22. Oh, also got to point out that Tony Perkins, who's a died in the wool homophobe (and an MSNBC commentator... go liberals!), always liked to say that the real homophobes are people like the funeral-protesting Westboro Baptist Church.

    There's always someone more ridiculous than you are, but that doesn't make you Joe Cool.

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