There aren’t many points where left-wing political correctness and traditional gentlemanly manners coincide, but not gratuitously impugning a woman’s reputation is one of them. Needless to say, it does not advance conservatism or the cause of religious liberty — or more fundamentally, where the HHS contraception mandate is concerned, freedom of contract — when Rush Limbaugh plays to leftist stereotypes by calling a young woman a “slut.” Not that anybody should be surprised by this: Limbaugh is usually forthright about his role as an entertainer, rather than a source of political wisdom or moral cynosure, and his brand of entertainment banks on outrage. His advertisers in particular have no grounds for complaint: if Limbaugh isn’t controversial, he won’t get the ratings they insist upon. Their hireling may have overreached, but honorable sponsors will stick by him even in the wrong. Otherwise shock-jocks like him would not be able to take the risks that richly reward the mattress companies.
Lefties calling for Limbaugh’s head over this should also be careful what they wish for: demanding that corporate media be even less robust in what speech they will allow on the airwaves is, one would have thought, that last thing that any principled left-winger (as opposed to partisan hack) should do. Conservatives, meanwhile, should ditch Limbaugh the old-fashioned way: tune him out and read a book.