I have good news and bad news.
Good news is that the White House finally responded to OleHippieChick's petition to remove Rush Limbaugh from AFN.
I think you can guess the bad news:
Thank you for your interest in American Forces Network (AFN) programming for our service members overseas. We appreciate your participation in the "We the People" platform on www.whitehouse.gov and your concerns about the programming available to our troops.The bad news arrived last night, on a Friday evening, after phone lines at both AFN and the White House were shut down for business. I think a few folks are hoping this is a flash in the pan and that by Monday morning, no one will care anymore.
AFN is charged with providing current information and entertainment programming to our Department of Defense audiences overseas, similar to what they could see and hear via the media in the United States. AFN acquires top-rated radio programs, as measured by audience ratings in the United States, and delivers them via satellite to our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen stationed worldwide in 177 countries. AFN does not advertise on, provide any funding for, offer products for sale, or sponsor any of the programs (including the Rush Limbaugh Show) it relays to its audiences.
AFN does not censor content, and we believe it is important that service members have access to a variety of viewpoints.
See the complete list of political talk shows offered on AFN.
Review all of our radio and television services/schedules.
Again, thank you for your interest in our service members and the programming services AFN extends to them.
Bryan G. Whitman is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
I had high hopes that someone within the military chain of command would see sense. I had even higher hopes that civilians within the Obama Administration would see that this is not a case of 'fair and balanced' representation of the political point of view. At the time, I hedged my bets and started a less than successful petition to the ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin and John McCain. Still haven't reached 500 signatures yet. Folks just don't believe me when I tell them pressure has to come from all directions at once in order for the military to stick their heads up out of their foxholes.
Honestly, I could care less which talk show hosts they want to place on our airways as long as those hosts are not misogynists, racists, or make common use of hate speech. And that little quibble, my friends, was completely lost in the answer to this petition. Zero Tolerance for sexual harassment in our military? I don't think so. How about Zero Attention instead?
I've spent the last few weeks writing about an award winning film, The Invisible War. The film tells the story of several women and a few men - all who were raped and/or sexually assaulted while serving in the military. I've been on a quest to gain signatures on a White House petition asking that all potential military commanders and all personnel who work training our incoming recruits watch this film. It is truly an eye-opening account of the problems facing our service members, not only from the standpoint of the victims but also for any military person who wants to change the system, who wants to truly support Zero Tolerance.
And now you can see why. Rush Limbaugh is given a free pass to continue on the airways of AFN without even addressing the petitioners core concern, that of demeaning women.
Back in March, other military community members were writing Letters to the Editor to Stars and Stripes about Rush Limbaugh. This one could have been written by many of us:
The Department of Defense has a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment. How can it keep Rush Limbaugh on American Forces Network radio after such unacceptable statements? If he was in uniform, he would be facing a Uniform Code of Military Justice hearing.Zero Tolerance will never come to pass as long as we offer support in any way, shape, or form to misogynistic behavior.
What does it say about all of the work that military sexual assault response coordinators do if AFN will not remove Limbaugh’s show from its programming?
Camp Walker, South Korea
Secretary Panetta, are you listening? Or are your ears filled with sand?