Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, March 9, 2012 8:44 pm

Defining bullying down

Filed under: Evil — Lex @ 8:44 pm
Tags: , , ,

When I linked last night to the New York Times story about Texas shutting down health care for poor women while claiming it was all about abortion, I said this: “This is just people being dicks and punching defenseless women because they can.”

In other words, bullying.

I know from bullying. Between third and sixth grade I got my ass kicked fairly regularly by a couple of neighborhood kids. My parents, as parents did then, said, “Deal with it yourself. Fight back.” I did, although not very effectively. The only time I unambiguously won one of those battles was when I smashed a lunchbox across the other guy’s nose. And, naturally, this did not make him go away but for about two days.

Nowadays, the public schools where I live are all about “zero tolerance for bullying,” which is at once both an improvement and kind of quaint when you have kids bursting into middle school in search of a student they believe sexually assaulted a relative. But that’s only an improvement for the kids. The adults are now more into bullying than ever. Sometimes it takes the form of policy proposals that would further enrich the already wealthy at the expense of society’s most vulnerable, such as Rep. Paul Ryan’s kill-Medicare proposal, or that Times article I linked to about cutting health care for poor women in Texas. And sometimes it’s not even that subtle.

Athenae at First Draft offers some suitable perspective:

The only people who like bullies are bullies and the pathetic, conflict-averse, morally cowardly hangers-on who think that by throwing a few rocks they’ll avoid getting stoned to death at some point too. Everybody else recognizes what’s going on and thinks it’s gross, and even kind of sad, and shouldn’t we be past this now, we’re supposed to be grown-ups.

Let me tell you something about pregnant kids and how radically the landscape has shifted since I was in school. I went to a doctrinaire Roman Catholic high school, and in my senior year there were a couple of girls who were pregnant. And not once did anyone in authority, principal down to the … janitor, treat those girls with anything less than the respect every single other student received. You can’t stop kids from gossiping, and I don’t know what went on between the girls and the authorities behind closed doors, but seeing those girls treated just like everybody else went a long way toward keeping the more vicious and nasty kids under wraps.

That’s the real difference between what goes on in the schoolyard and what goes on in our national politics. People have always been mean nasty bastards and they’re always going to be. But once upon a time we didn’t have an entire media establishment dedicated to cheering on the bullies and making them feel good about the dark places inside them that make them hack off on the powerless, 24 hours a day, on TV and the radio and now in the wingnutsphere. Once upon a time you got cuffed upside the head for picking on the smaller kid, the weaker kid, the poorer kid, the dumber kid. Once upon a time, no matter your politics, that was just considered rude, and too easy, and cut it out anyway, jerks.

For the past 30 years we’ve been building to a bullying critical mass, and with what happened to Sandra Fluke quite a few people got a faceful of what that looks like. And they don’t like it. They remember being in a situation where somebody richer, somebody faster, somebody with more friends, made fun of them and all that person’s little pals giggled along. They remember how that felt and they remember every time they didn’t speak up for someone else in the same situation, and they’re starting to speak up now.

The ugly truth that America has spent most of the last 30 years avoiding is that what juvenile delinquents do to their physically weaker peers differs only in degree, and not at all in kind, from what Rush Limbaugh did to Sandra Fluke and what the wealthy and powerful do to the less fortunate in this country via public policy every day: Just as stealing billions with a pen is as much theft as stealing a few bucks with a pistol, bullying via public policy is just as much bullying as stealing a kid’s lunch, tripping him on the stairs or punching him in the nose.

And unfortunately, knowing that bullying is the act of a person with power who still feels powerless doesn’t make it any easier to stop, nor does it make the victim feel one whit better. I don’t know what the metaphorical equivalent of a lunchbox across the bridge of the nose to these people would be, but we need to find it and start using it over and over and over, because to judge from Limbaugh’s actions, it’s the only language they understand.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012 8:31 pm

Limbaugh sliced, diced, dissected and wreckeded

I’ve never met John Cole, the proprietor of the blog Balloon Juice. But this much I know: I never want him to become my enemy.

Rush Limbaugh has been an enemy of Cole’s for a while, but his baseless attacks last week against Sandra Fluke have made Limbaugh Cole Enemy No. 1.

I don’t often say this (12 times in 10 years of blogging, in fact — this is the 13th), but, seriously, go read the whole thing. Not only is it a serious contender for Blog Post of the Year, it also is an encapsulation and indictment of just how thoroughly debased, divorced from fact and context, and vicious (in the older sense: vice-ridden) our public discourse has become, and how few consequences there are for severe, serial social deviance therein.

And that was on top of this public challenge to Hot Air (sorry, I ain’t linking to them) proprietor Ed Morrissey:

For those of you who can not watch videos, here is a .pdf of the transcript. At no point anywhere in her testimony did Sandra Fluke make any mention of her sexual activity. Never.

I challenge Ed right now — show me where she talked about her sex life in that testimony, and I will write a check for $1,000.00 to the RNC [Republican National Committee]. She simply didn’t make her sex life the topic of discussion, and Ed is lying out his ass. You could watch that video or read the transcript, and as far as you could tell, Miss Fluke might very well be a virgin.

Ed is lying. The people who made this issue, which was about medical health, into an issue about Sandra Fluke’s sex life are Rush Limbaugh and all the amoral cretins like Ed who decided that just like Graeme Frost, anyone who goes against what the right wants RIGHT NOW, is a target who needs to be destroyed.

So take the challenge, or apologize for lying, Ed. $1000.00 to the RNC the moment you can show me where she discussed her sex life, you lying sack of [excrement].

In a sane society, people like Limbaugh would live in locked, padded rooms, and whatever Cole is doing, we’d find a way to incentivize him to do more of it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012 10:04 pm

Hitting Rush where it hurts, cont.: local stations, local advertisers

In the past 72 hours, while I’ve struggled with work, school, my kids’ schedules and a migraine, a great exodus has taken place among Rush Limbaugh’s national advertisers after his abuse of law student Sandra Fluke for trying to stand up for basic health-care rights for women. I won’t rehash the merits of the issue, which by now are pretty well settled among those with ears to hear. (I’ve tweeted about it a bit if you want to go look.)

The question now is: What else can we do to put pressure on Rush and his parent corporations? One thing we can do is pressure the local advertisers on the stations that carry his show. Commenter “Jager” at Balloon Juice provides instructions on how to go about this [I’ve added a few clarifications in brackets], and as a former radio guy I can say he’s more or less on the money:

Go after the local advertisers on his show. There are very few local advertising [slots] on Rush’s show and they sell at a premium. Monitor the Rush station, make a list of the local advertisers and do the following:

1. Call the advertiser; be polite.
2. Write a letter to the advertiser; be polite.
3. Copy the station and the Federal Communications Commission with the advertiser letter.
4. Politely call the General Manager of the station, tell the GM what you are doing and why, tell them you have contacted the advertiser and copied the FCC.
5. If the local advertiser uses an agency, contact the agency, as well. Just ask the local business [whether] they use an agency.

[It’s not clear to me why the commenter thinks calling the agency will help, unless you’re also threatening to boycott any of the agency’s other advertisers, or any other stations with which the agency places advertising, or in some other way putting pressure on the agency’s revenue stream. — Lex]

It won’t take many letters and phone calls to get their attention and remind the station that the letters need to be placed in the station’s public file. (the public file is an FCC requirement)

Local stations don’t get many local [advertising slots] in Rush’s show and many [stations] pay a huge fee to Premiere [Radio Networks, the Bain Capital/Clear Channel Communications subsidiary that syndicates the show] to run the show. If they start losing business because of that [expletive], they will raise hell with Premiere.

Although I don’t think there’s any guarantee of that because I think 27% of Americans would be happy if Rush killed infants and ate their entrails live from noon to 3 weekdays, I do think the commenter’s suggestions are about the likeliest approach of any to get results. So if you want to apply financial pressure to Rush to at least start behaving like a civilized member of society, target the local advertisers on your local Rush station. I’ll update this post when I’ve had the time to even figure out who that is in this market — that’s how out of it I’ve been lately.

UPDATE: Well, duh, it’s Rush Radio — WPTI (94.5 FM).

Mailing Address
2-B PAI Park
Greensboro, NC 27409

Phone number – 336-822-2000
Program Director – Angie Vuyst – angievuyst@rushradio945.com
Sales Manager – Tom Hennessey – tomhennessey2@clearchannel.co

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