Learned People discuss how Twitter and Facebook made it okay to say that Rush Limbaugh was arepehensible fuckstick:
Jeremy Stahl: I disagree. Jack Shafer had a greattweet on this over the weekend: “Is this Limbaugh’s Imus moment? His enemies leveraging public opinion to send him into exile for what he’s done in the open for decades?” Had Rush said the same exact thing as Imus pre-social media, he would have been fine. One could argue that he has said the equivalent or worse to what he said about Fluke for years and hasn’t suffered any consequences until now. Twitter and Facebook make it really easy to put pressure on corporate sponsors in a way that was a lot more complicated to organize just a few years ago.
Can we talk for a sec, here? About how something is okay one day and then not okay the next?
Because who decides it’s okay? Who decides that what Rush Limbaugh said about Chelsea Clinton wasn’t mean enough to get him shunned at cocktail parties? Who decides that comparing feminists to people who ran concentration camps wasn’t really something he should have faced any undue criticism for? Who decides that racist crack after racist crack, hateful statement after hateful statement, bigoted slur after bigoted slur, is just a sign that free speech in this country is fucking grand?
Who? Why, his fellow members of the media, that’s who.
So Rush is toxic now. Rush’s advertisers are pulling their ads. Rush’s one-time Republican friends are ducking his calls. Rush’s think-tank pals are opining that maybe his schtick is played out. Even those defending him are hurting his cause. That’s all well and good. I’m glad people are finally clued in to that fact, about 20 years after it should have been blindingly obvious. I’m glad this asshole is being called an asshole, and for Sandra Fluke’s sake I’m glad people are standing up to this bullying waste of airtime.
But what’s changed now? Every other time he’s pulled something heinous and people have objected they’ve been met with defensive reactions about how Rush is “an entertainer” and should thus be humored in the name of free speech, as if freedom of speech requires you to pay the most reprehensible asshole you know to insult you all day. Every other time (which is about every other day) that Rush has said something distorted and cruel, especially about the press, the press has been silent and his claims have gone unanswered.
Well, the Republicans are a national clown show joke. The Tea Party’s an old meme, everybody’s forgotten about George W. Bush or wishes they had, and the best candidate the GOP can put forward for election is a guy even other Republicans think is an amoral dick. And yes, a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook can talk directly to customer service about their political views, which has led to some advertisers pulling out and Rush issuing a half-assed “apology.” But this has fuck-all to do with social media. This has to do with people ON social media making it safe for other people to turn on Rush Limbaugh. Making it safe for the deep thinkers of the national press, who stood silent for years while Rush and his minions demonized them as liberal pantywaists, to finally stand up and say fuck this guy.
I don’t think you can overestimate the herd metality when it comes to developing a narrative in our national media. The national pundits prefer to opine in a pack about that which is totally safe, that which everyone knows: Republicans are tough on national security and believe in family values, Democrats are all mime-fucking French pussies, and the Iraq War was not onlytotally right but itnever actually happened. So for somebody to say Rush had finally gone too far, they had to take that idea from about a billion other people who were out there saying, “Yes, and where exactly have you been the other 27 times?”
I don’t know if I’d be too quick to credit Facebook and Twitter for giving me the courage of other people’s convictions.