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Please begin with an informative title:

This week right wing talk show icon Rush Limbaugh has been beside himself over MSNBC host Martin Bashir's comments about Sarah Palin.

For anyone living in a cave, retired governor Palin recently made the following racially insensitive slavery remarks to the ironically named "Faith and Freedom Coalition":

"Our free stuff today is being paid for by taking money from our children, and borrowing from China. When that note comes due — and this isn’t racist, so try it. Try it anyway. This isn’t racist. But it’s going to be like slavery when that note is due."

(Note to Sarah Palin:  "This isn't racist" doesn't mean what you think it does.)

Last Friday, Martin Bashir responded by suggesting that Sarah Palin had no concept of what slavery was like, then added that she could find out by enduring a bit of what slaves experienced:


Given her well-established reputation as a world class idiot, it’s hardly surprising that she should choose to mention slavery in a way that is abominable to anyone who knows anything about its barbaric history.

So here’s an example.  One of the most comprehensive first-person accounts of slavery comes from the personal diary of a man called Thomas Thistlewood, who kept copious notes for 39 years. Thistlewood was the son of a tenant farmer, who arrived on the island of Jamaica in April 1750, and assumed the position of overseer at a major plantation.

What is most shocking about Thistlewood’s diary is not simply the fact that he assumes the right to own and possess other human beings, but is the sheer cruelty and brutality of his regime.  In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby 'catched eating kanes had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth.'

This became known as 'Darby’s Dose,' a punishment invented by Thistlewood that spoke only of inhumanity. And he mentions a similar incident in 1756, his time in relation to a man he refers to as Punch. 'Flogged punch well, and then washed and rubbed salt pickle, lime juice and bird pepper, made Negro Joe piss in his eyes and mouth.'

I could go on, but you get the point.  When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate.

On Monday, Bashir opened his show with the following apology:
"I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said.  My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate, nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics. And they have brought shame upon my friends and colleagues at this network, none of whom were responsible for the things that I said, and and at a place where we try every day to elevate political discourse and to focus on issues that matter to all of us."

It was a heartfelt, appropriate apology which made no attempt to excuse or explain away his remarks by offering context.  In my view, Bashir acted like a real asshole and he should probably get a mean letter in his personnel file and lose his privileged parking spot for a month.  And if he ever does anything like this again he should lose his job.  No media outlet should tolerate such detestable discourse from its employees, regardless of the context or overall rhetorical point.  But Bashir owned his mistake and deserves a chance to show he can learn from it.

Rush Limbaugh knows a thing or two about mean-spirited attacks, but precious little about heartfelt apologies and even less about losing his primary radio gig (although he did lose his job at ESPN due to racism and his tv show due to sucking.

This week Limbaugh was having none of Bashir's apology, claiming that if such a gaffe had taken place at Fox it would have resulted in immediate firing:

He made a big apology and it was said to be heartfelt and serious.  But it asks an even larger question:  Why is he still there?  You know, pick anybody you want at Fox.  Let's say Dr. Krauthammer, or Ted O'Baxter would suggest that somebody do to Obama what Bashir suggested happen to Sarah Palin, what do you think would have happened?  Within seconds they would have been yanked off the air before their show was over.

Roger Ailes woulda stormed down there and taken 'em off the air publicly, and that would be the end of 'em.  They wouldn'ta even finished their show.  That's exactly right.  If Ailes had to sit there and do the rest of the hour himself, he would yank whoever did that off the air.  At MSNBC, what's the big deal?  Apology takes care of it and that's it.  These are truly reprehensible people over there.

But Limbaugh himself is actually living proof that such moves rarely happen.  Limbaugh has made a career of mean-spirited attacks.  It's what his backwards, bigoted fans expect from him--that their cigar chomping leader will lay into the gays, the deadbeat poor, the swarthy, the treehuggers, the feminazis--anyone who isn't them.

Limbaugh's most infamous attack was a 3 day savaging of Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke.  Limbaugh called Fluke a "slut" repeatedly, suggested she'd been having sex since sixth grade, and said she should be forced to post pictures of herself having sex online for him to watch.

Only when advertisers began deserting Limbaugh's show like rats jumping off a sinking ship and he saw his precious dollars leaking away did El Rushbo issue a quarter-assed fauxpology which can be summarized as "I was right, and you can't take a joke":

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

Two days later, Limbaugh issued an apology for his apology to appease fans who felt he needed to stick to his misogynistic guns.

As for his boss, far from storming down there like Roger Ailes, Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman called El Rushbo's repugnant comments "part of the normal day-to-day of talk radio" and said "we're delighted to have him."

So spare us the self-righteous indignation, Rush.  You wouldn't know a real apology if it bit you on the ass.


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Decent folks who believe in tolerance and equality are no longer powerless against Rush Limbaugh's efforts to spread intolerance on the radio.  StopRush is making a major impact by convincing advertisers on this show to withdraw their ads--and with your help we can do even more.  Just a few emails, tweets, or Facebook messages a week to Limbaugh's advertisers can go a long way toward making hatred less profitable.  It is our collective voice that makes us strong.  

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