Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan have an op-ed at CNN.com on Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” tirade from last week and they call for the novel solution of having the Federal Communications Commission yank the licenses of the hundreds of radio stations that carry his program:
Spectrum is a scarce government resource. Radio broadcasters are obligated to act in the public interest and serve their respective communities of license. In keeping with this obligation, individual radio listeners may complain to the FCC that Limbaugh’s radio station (and those syndicating his show) are not acting in the public interest or serving their respective communities of license by permitting such dehumanizing speech.
I won’t bother to detail the blindingly obvious arguments about the virtue of countering offensive speech with more speech, or the danger of having the FCC suppress speech one doesn’t like. Just as a matter of practical politics this is a dumb move. Limbaugh’s allies have been on the defensive (by trying to change the subject to Bill Maher, for example) for a week now, while his program bleeds sponsors. To the extent that anybody is paying attention—and who’s been waiting for Jane Fonda’s input?—it puts Limbaugh’s supporters back on the offensive, as is clear in the Memeorandum thread.
And I keep tripping over the following paragraph:
Limbaugh doesn’t just call people names. He promotes language that deliberately dehumanizes his targets. Like the sophisticated propagandist Josef Goebbels, he creates rhetorical frames — and the bigger the lie the more effective — inciting listeners to view people they disagree with as sub-humans. His longtime favorite term for women, “femi-nazi,” doesn’t even raise eyebrows anymore, an example of how rhetoric spreads when unchallenged by coarsened cultural norms.(emphasis added)
I find difficult that none of these women, or any editors at CNN, noted the irony of complaining about Limbaugh’s use of “femi-nazi” in the very next sentence after comparing him to Goebbels. And the lesson of the internet age is that everybody is a Nazi, eventually.
Updated with a couple of minor edits.