Sandra Fluke and the way the left operates
I have a story to tell that has some relevance to the adventures of Miss Sandra Fluke on Capitol Hill, but since it contains potentially identifying information, I would ask you to attribute it to “a reader.” I imagine that other readers may choose to write about her testimony and its ramifications.
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In the late 1980s, I was appointed to be in charge of one of the first New York State comprehensive AIDS treatment centers. I had been taking care of HIV patients for about five years, and, given the shortage of providers in that field, I had accumulated quite a lot of experience.
After about two months on the job, I got a call from a prominent activist (who is even more prominent today). She asked me to travel to Washington at her expense to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health at a hearing the next day.
I would meet famous personages, have lunch with a very prominent senator, and appear on television. This had some substantial potential advantages to my then-budding career, including a higher public profile, easier access to funding, and rubbing shoulders with the good and great.
All I had to do was tell the stories of a few patients who had lost their health insurance, been fired from their jobs, or been evicted from their apartments when their diagnosis was revealed.
The problem was, there were no such patients. I had cared for about 500 HIV patients at that point, and, contrary to what “everyone knew,” my patients had received only kindness and support from those around them (families included, with a few glaring exceptions).
I told her that I couldn’t go, for the above reason. “Oh, no worries,” she said. “We have a script.”
Up until that very second, I had held firmly to the “They are well-meaning but sometimes mistaken” view of the left. From that day forward, I have never believed a word spoken in a congressional hearing, at least not on matters political. It’s all a play, and the left has the script.
I’m just catching up on this Limbaugh-Fluke controversy now. It seems Limbaugh threw the thing into confusion by calling her crude names. What the left is demanding vis a vis birth control is beyond incredible. This is a winning issue for our side. But Limbaugh made his insulting language the focus, which is very unfortunate.
The reader replies:
You are correct that Rush, by calling Fluke a slut, rather than an advocate for sluttish behavior, made an error. If you read her contrived and tendentious testimony carefully, she never once spoke on her own behalf, rather, she spoke for others, the oppressed female law students at Georgetown Law who couldn’t afford birth control.
The bigger picture is fascinating. Team Obama, starting with George Stephanopolous’ question to Romney in the January 2 debate about states banning birth control (which at the time appeared totally out of left field), has inflated a gigantic boogieman of a bad Republican man taking birth control away from women.
That the whole thing has been so successful, at least according to polls, is remarkable and speaks to the degree to which the assumptions of sexual liberation have become intertwined with the national psyche. In particular, the cavalcade of elected Republicans, beginning with Boehner, criticizing Rush and defending Fluke demonstrates the fact that sluttish behavior is now so much the norm that even the slightest negative inference is beyond the pale.
D. Edwards writes:
Fluke’s last name is interesting. One meaning is an odd occurrence. The other is a parasite. Well, going before Congress demanding free contraception is both a fluke and a fluke.
P.S. Do the Democrats enlist screen writers for their propaganda?
Daniel S. writes (March 3):
I am still not sure what to make of this business of Rush Limbaugh calling some silly, intellectually-challenged, morally loose college student that wants her Catholic college to pay for her birth control pills a “slut” and a “prostitute.” The establishment liberals and feminists have launched a full blown jihad on Limbaugh (which he seems to relish), though Ilana Mercer thinks Rush blew a chance to expose an important issue. What do you think? Have you followed this story at all?
It seems Limbaugh overstepped and did have to apologize. But that’s not the hard-to-understand part.
Aaron S. writes:
If I’m not mistaken, I believe Limbaugh—however clumsily—asked the question rhetorically, i.e., “isn’t someone who takes money for having sex a prostitute?” and “isn’t a person having so much sex that she needs thousands of dollars a year for birth control a slut?” (I’m sure other readers will correct me on my impression here if it is false)
Granted, not the best approach, but I think his backing down is doing the cause even more damage, by conferring legitimacy on the moral perspective of the other side. You’ve chronicled this phenomenon many times: the incendiary comment made with a lack of ability to follow through on the argument. [LA replies: I agree it’s damaging, but backing down from an insult is not the same as backing down from saying that Islam is a religion based on will and force, as the Pope did; it’s not the same as backing down from saying women may be less talented at the highest range of mathematical ability, as Lawrence Summers did (and was fired anyway); it’s not the same as backing down from saying that blacks have a lower mean IQ than whites, as James Watson did (and was fired anyway). As to whether Limbaugh was only making a rhetorical point and not directly insulting Fluke, we’ve got to get transcripts of all the relevant statements.]
Your reader said:
criticizing Rush and defending Fluke demonstrates the fact that sluttish behavior is now so much the norm that even the slightest negative inference is beyond the pale.
Now this will be interesting to see how all of this plays out in the next week or so, but should the pattern hold, then indeed we are in deep trouble. What exactly does American freedom mean right now? It is certainly not the capacity of virtuous Christians or Jews to order their own affairs. It is not any longer even the ability to order projects for the making of money. It would appear that now, in the minds of a possible majority of our countrymen, freedom means something like the capacity of unattached single people to pursue sexual pleasure without consequence, and the state’s job is to see to it that this occurs. A litmus test: if what you said would make Holly Golightly, Ally McBeal, or Carrie Bradshaw feel hurt, it is ethically and politically beyond the pale. We went to the moon 43 years ago, but now our highest aspirations are south of the waist.
James P. writes:
Daniel S. calls her a “college student.” She is a third-year law school student and is 31 years old—a grown adult more than capable of taking care of herself. She is also a Leftist “activist” against “domestic violence,” not just some airhead “college student” pulled randomly out of a dorm.
James P. continues:
“I cannot get into my head that people are demanding, as a right, as an unquestionable right, that they should be provided with contraceptives totally free, at the cost of the taxpayers. No one heard of such an idea a couple of months ago.”
What then should not be “free”?
Here are the two statements by Limbaugh that got him in trouble. Last Wednesday he said:
“What does it say about the college coed … who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”
On Thursday he said:
“If we’re going to have to pay for this, then we want something in return, Ms. Fluke,” Limbaugh said. “And that would be the videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we’re getting for our money.”
He also asked Fluke: “Who bought your condoms in junior high?”
So, in response to Aaron, I would say that yes, Limbaugh was attempting to make a rhetorical point, but it was crude and poorly done. He does call her a slut and a prostitute. The idea that she is seeking to be paid for sex, like a prostitute being paid by her client, is so-off base it’s painful.
Limbaugh blew it very badly, making the focus of the issue these stupid personal insults for which he had to apologize, instead of the amazing fact that Fluke was testifying before Congress demanding that her law school subsidize the sex lives of its female students, and that the American taxpayer subsidize the sex lives of all women in America, and that the left supports this demand.
Ray G. writes:
This whole thing is ridiculous. The only thing that matters is this:
Obama/Pelosi/NOW/MSM = 1
Rush/GOP/Conservatives = 0
This has been political theatre, designed to advance the political agenda of Obama. He won.
This woman was obviously used for show by Obama/Pelosi, to put a face on their desire to have contraception (and really everything) free of charge under Obamacare.
She lied about her age; the MSM made it appear she was an innocent 23 year old “co-ed,” when in reality, she’s a 30 year old lawyer and hard-left activist. [LA replies: I thought she was a third-year law student.]
So Rush was making a rhetorical point. Something like—what do you call someone who accepts money for sex? A prostitute, a slut. I think it was a fine point to make.
In the end, another victory for Obama and the MSM.
The victory for the left was not when Limbaugh apologized for stupidly calling the woman a slut; the victory for the left was when Limbaugh stupidly called the woman a slut, which made his apology necessary and inevitable.
James R. writes:
Alas, Rush has likely lost the issue by transforming the issue from the government forcing people to buy things for others, to “some old white guy saying mean things about a sweet young activist who only wanted to propagandize on behalf of the left.” He stumbled uncontrollably into helping them in this cause. But I’m writing on the aspect of this issue that you’re having trouble wrapping your head around:
Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 03, 2012 06:43 PM | Send
“I cannot get into my head that people are demanding, as a right, as an unquestionable right, that they should be provided with contraceptives totally free, at the cost of the taxpayers. No one heard of such an idea a couple of months ago. And now it’s already a pillar of America which no one may safely challenge.”
It’s actually more insidious than that. It’s not “free at the cost of the taxpayers.” They aren’t using tax money for this, as this phrasing suggests. They are commanding some people to provide a good to other people (not in the sense “this is a good thing” but of “goods as stuff”). A is commanding B to pay for C’s stuff. So it’s “free” for the person who gets to use that good, with the cost shifted not to taxpayers as a whole (which may be bad enough, but is more defensible), but to private parties. If you’ve had the misfortune to take classes at a university any time in the last 20 years, you would know that this is the wave of the future. This kind of thing is also the exact political program of the largely college and activist-centered Occupy movement: people such as them getting stuff for “free,” provided not necessarily by the government, but by private third-parties who are to be obligated by government command (mandate) to give it to them.
Yes, there is a sense in which this functions as a sort of in-kind tax, and it is the part of the population that are net tax payers who are being directed to pay for this. But it’s more of a mandate that takes Obamacare and raises it to a whole new level: now you’re not just being mandated to buy a good for yourself, people are being mandated to buy a good for others. This is also why even in their original counterargument, the conservative opponents were not framing it correctly when they discussed it only as a matter of religious freedom. It certainly is that, but it’s a matter of freedom, full stop. This sort of dictat violates everyone’s liberty, not just that of churches and church-run institutions. We live in an era where evil is considered good, where injustice is considered justice, and slavery is being sold to us as freedom. No wonder you are having trouble wrapping your mind around it.