I was in college when Rush Limbaugh became nationally known. I was an eager listener, sort of, not because I enjoyed what he was saying, but because he provided the challenge of opposition. Essentially, it was something to argue against.
But Limbaugh has long been a self-caricature, to the point at which it is unclear how he is still able to convince people to pay him to talk over the radio. There is no topic on which he can speak with any moral authority. A couple of years ago, when he embarrassed himself over the Congressional testimony of Sandra Fluke on women's health issues and insurance, groups quickly organized to campaign to have his advertisers dump him--and they've been highly successful. To date, more than 3,000 business and nonprofit organizations have prohibited their advertising from appearing on his program.*
* - It is actually fairly common for advertisers to be unsure what programs they are "sponsoring" with advertising. A lot of ad purchasing, especially for national radio programs, is handled by ad agencies and placement companies that place ads according to demographics, ratings, and prices. Most advertisers on the Rush Limbaugh Radio Program, historically, have not made the affirmative decision to advertise on his show.
I don't think I've listened to more than 10 seconds of his program in more than 5 years. There's just no point. He's become radicalized in his views; his callers provide nothing but backstopping; and his rants have become increasingly incoherent.
My attention was drawn to his program today because his comments on Michael Sam made the news. Sam, an All-American defensive end for the University of Missouri who is projected as a middle-round NFL draft pick, recently came out as gay in an interview on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" program.
The reaction was predictable; while Sam was hailed in many quarters for his courage in coming out, his status as a homosexual--he would be the first openly gay player in NFL history--was criticized by a bunch of anonymous cowards who happen to be affiliated with NFL teams. In one comment that brings into sharp relief the prejudice Sam faces, his homosexuality was called an "off-the-field issue" that would be "a distraction" to NFL teams.
Of course, no one finds it a distraction when a heterosexual NFL player dates or marries a woman.
As for whether Sam's homosexuality will be a distraction to his team, it has been noted that Sam was "out" to his team--the same Missouri Tigers who won the SEC East, played in the SEC Championship Game, and dismantled Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl--during the season.**
** - Who knows? Maybe they would have won more if he'd kept his sexual orientation to himself. But if that's what you get when a player comes out, could we arrange for some of the Razorbacks to come out?
I started this post by writing about Limbaugh because he talked today about Michael Sam. But he really ran off the rails well into the rant. The thrust of his complaint is that nobody is looking out for (presumably) straight guys like him. "Heteros--you say heterosexuality may be 95, 98 percent of the
population -- they're under assault by the two to five percent that are
homosexual," Limbaugh said. "So why -- I'm just asking, I'm just
throwing it out there -- why is there a political agenda attached to and
driven by homosexuality and there is no corresponding heterosexual
That is, indeed, a good question. And we should leave aside the even better question of how Rush Limbaugh even dares to speak on such topics, given the amount of violence he's done to the institution of marriage (four marriages, four divorces).***
*** - After the last one he wised up and took his boner pills to a notorious child-sex vacation spot, the Dominican Republic, apparently in search of victims to whom he is merely a wealthy American sugar daddy and not a drug-addled ideologue who can't stay married.
But the answer to Limbaugh's question should be obvious to anyone who doesn't align themselves with an ideological movement predicated on the idea that equality for minorities is an assault on the majority. No one needs to stand up for us "heteros" because the system already accommodates us in every way possible. I didn't need to file a lawsuit against anyone to be able to marry my wife. When we went to the county clerk's office, nobody had to check with a supervisor to see if our marriage license could be issued.
I can hold hands with my wife as we walk down the street and no one bats an eye.
When we "heteros" play sports, nobody freaks out if we have a significant other.
The silly thing about Limbaugh's comments is that there is very much a political agenda attached to heterosexuality. The reason why he can't see it is that it's primarily attached to religious activism rather than heterosexuality per se. More than thirty states have laws on the books prohibiting homosexuals from marrying. It was only 11 years ago that all laws that criminalized homosexual conduct between consenting adults were held unconstitutional.
When an NFL prospect will be judged according to his performance on the field and at tryouts, instead of whom he prefers to sleep with, maybe then there won't need to be a political movement attached to homosexuality.
But we don't live in that world yet. It's getting better, but there is a long way to go.