Everybody is outraged – OUTRAGED! – over language hurled against women these last few weeks. First it was Rush Limbaugh. Then Bill Maher. Now Louis C.K. has resigned from hosting the Radio and TV Correspondent’s Dinner after Greta Van Susteren threatened a boycott because during the last election Louis called Sarah Palin a cunt.
From Greta Van Susteren’s blog: “he changed his mind less than 24 hours after I called for a boycott. I assume many others jumped on the call for the boycott and thus he made the right decision. We did it together.”
Sincere congratulations to Ms. Van Susteren. You asked for his removal and you got it. The lesson: words have consequences. His words, your words, everybody’s words. Mr. Rogers would be thrilled.
No word yet on Ms. Van Susteren success in her boycott of Rush Limbaugh’s show because no such boycott exists. Why the selective outrage? Because, as always, these things have far less to do with what was said and more to do with who said them. Like the words themselves, they have to be viewed in context.
The difference between what Louis said, and what Rush said is this: in his apology, Rush made a point of saying that his personal attacks on Ms. Fluke, were not intended “as a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”
In other words, when he specifically called Sandra Fluke a “slut,” “a prostitute,” and encouraged her to post sex videos of herself online so he could watch, it was not personal. It was, therefore, general. Which I, for one, believe because it fits perfectly within the larger context of Rush Limbaugh’s twenty-plus years of ad hominem attacks on “feminazis” and gratuitous comments about all female journalists as “news babes.”
With Louis, his insult was actually the opposite: it was a highly personal attack. The target of his insult, Sarah Palin, so infuriated him that he felt the need to call her the very worst name he could think of. His insult referred to a specific woman at a specific time and place.
Did Louis cross the line? Yeah. Did Bill Maher? Yeah. Have I at times? Yeah. Has Greta Van Susteren ever crossed the line? Have you, in your personal conversations? Yeah. We all have. The difference is context. Do a Google search of the horrible shit Rush Limbaugh has said about women. Then do a search on Louis C.K. See if it’s comparable.
Louis did use those words, and opted to drop out of an incestuous Washington dinner party rather than make himself the focus of this recurring debate on language. But the reason more people don’t give a shit about what Louis C.K. said is not because of a liberal bias – does anybody even know what Louis C.K.’s politics are, aside from hating Sarah Palin (a sentiment shared by many Republicans)?– but because the charge of misogyny just doesn’t hold a lot of water with Louis.
With Rush it does. Regular listeners to Rush Limbaugh’s program, as I have been for years, are not surprised when he finds himself lambasted for his petulance, name-calling, and race baiting. It’s what he does. He’s kind of a cunt that way.