So, the Right’s titan, Rush Limbaugh, is under attack again. The faux-outrage crowd has gone berserk over his latest remarks. What happened? As The Daily Caller‘s Jeff Poor notes:
Limbaugh made a reference to rape in reference to the trampling of minority opinion in the U.S. Senate after Majority Leader Harry Reid’s use of the “nuclear option,” which lowers the bar for confirmation of executive nominees and non-Supreme Court judicial nominees.
“Let’s forget the Senate for a minute,” Limbaugh said. “Let’s say, let’s take 10 people in a room and they’re a group. And the room is made up of six men and four women. OK? The group has a rule that the men cannot rape the women. The group also has a rule that says any rule that will be changed must require six votes, of the 10, to change the rule. Every now and then, some lunatic in the group proposes to change the rule to allow women to be raped. But they never were able to get six votes for it. There were always the four women voting against it and they always found two guys.”
“Well, the guy that kept proposing that women be raped finally got tired of it, and he was in the majority and he was one that said, ‘You know what? We’re going to change the rule. Now all we need is five,’” Limbaugh continued. “And well, ‘You can’t do that.’ ‘Yes we are. We’re the majority. We’re changing the rule.’ And then they vote. Can the women be raped? Well, all it would take then is half of the room. You can change the rule to say three. You can change the rule to say three people want it, it’s going to happen. There’s no rule. When the majority can change the rules there aren’t any.”
Pretty benign, huh? Apparently not. Outrage ensued — for example, this:
Usually, I am able to place myself in someone else’s shoes and at least have some idea from where their outrage sprouts, even if I disagree with it (law school messes with one’s head that way). But on this, I honestly cannot even catch a glimmer. Just how exactly this offensive?
As I noted on Twitter today, I believe certain liberals simply wait for Rush or Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck or Mark Levin to utter one of their keywords (“race,” “sex,” “slave,” “rape,” etc.). Then, no matter what the context, they pounce and build an outrage case.
But what was the problem today? Stupidity. You see, the perpetually-outraged crowd does not understand what an analogy is (or pretends not to).
I realize this. As a writer and commentator, I made a vow to avoid analogies in my arguments. Why? Because many do not understand the concept. If one uses an analogy, countless IQ-challenged (or scruples-challenged) folks will immediately claim you were comparing the two objects.
Let’s explore a few examples. Say you’re out with your friend at a club and he hits on a girl and gets her number. He swaggers back over, grinning with confidence, and you compliment him: “Damn, dude — you were smooth as Jack Sparrow right there.” (Bear with me here, let’s pretend this is a few years ago and Pirates of the Caribbean is relevant; and yes, this is more of a simile than an analogy but part of the simile-metaphor-analogy family.) Your friend retorts angrily: “Are you saying I’m a pirate? You saying I’m a criminal, bro?” (It works best if you play this out in a Pauly D voice.) And you’re sitting there going: “What the heck just happened here?”
This is what Rush must be feeling.
Or, say you’re driving and there’s heavy fog and rain. You later mention to your friend: “Brutal drive. I was like Ray Charles.” Your friend shrieks: “Why are you insulting the blind?! Or are you saying Ray Charles would actually get behind a wheel?! Not cool! NOT COOL!” Wait, what?
Another one? You got it!: Let’s say a teacher gives some cautionary advice to a student and adds, referring to the documentary they recently saw about the ill-fated ship that ignored those iceberg warnings, “Look what happened with the Titanic, Billy.” The student’s mom then later calls the school, demanding to know why her child was accused of being the type of person who would be reckless with 2,200 lives or steer a ship at dangerous speeds. HUH?
Finally, let’s use an example closer to what Rush was trying to address, with Ben Franklin’s famous quote: Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Say you’re at a gathering, protesting a voter-referendum that just passed banning gay marriage. You’re making small-talk with the person next to you about the importance of this endeavor, the importance of standing up for liberty against the rule of the majority, and toss out the quote. The person’s face suddenly goes dark and they ask: “Wait — are you calling me a lamb? Do I look like a lamb to you? Are you saying I have squinty eyes? Are you saying we should have guns here? Do you have a gun on you???”
This is what we have with Rush today.
Rush never said the situation was like rape itself, or implied it is as bad as rape, or said anything about rape.
He was simply using rape in an analogy. And it works: the analogy he was looking for was one where someone is subjected to something against their will because he/she is out-voted, out-manned, and/or overpowered. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when searching for such an analogy? Hmm, rape! And using a rape analogy in no way means one is saying anything about rape, much less downplaying it.
Even then, there are instances of rape analogies being used — and largely overlooked. Guess the problem is only when Rush makes the remark. According to a 2011 Hypervocal article summarizing a few of the rape analogies found in media:
Johnny Depp on photo shoots: “Well, you just feel like you’re being raped somehow. Raped … It feels like a kind of weird – just weird.” (2010)
Kristen Stewart, on seeing paparazzi photos of herself: “It’s so… The photos are so… I feel like I’m looking at someone being raped.” (2010)
Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, on changing the term ‘illegal immigrants’ to ‘undocumented immigrants’ was like “re-brand(ing) the use of the word ‘rapist’ to ‘nonconsensual sex partner’.” (2010)
These were far worse than Rush’s ‘analogy.’ But, let’s face it, it’s not what is said but who says it.
I was also informed there were a few conservatives condemning Rush for his remarks. Allow me to also address that: there seems to be a growing number of conservatives who are eager to throw rocks at Rush. The reasons?: 1) It’s an easy, cheap way to score ‘look at me, I’m so fair-minded!’ points; 2) they suffer from holier-than-thou complex; and 3) it’s a way of punching up, standing on Rush’s shoulders to extoll oneself and garner attention.
All three are appalling.
While it’s necessary to call out fellow conservatives when one steps out of line (heck, I do it quite often), one must only do so when there is actual merit in doing so and the situation actually calls for it.
So… Rush’s remarks? Those who are outraged are either feigning it (and those Pharisees are worse than anything Rush will say) OR … a poor bastard* who doesn’t understand analogies. Which are you?
*DISCLAIMER!!! The writer of this column feels the need, after today, to note she means no offense whatsoever to any illegitimate son by using the term ‘bastard’ and will, in penance, light extra candles to the PC-gods this evening.