So Rush Limbaugh says he wants Obama to fail as president. The sky is also pretty blue today.
Yet due, I suppose, to many liberals’ rekindled love for the Oval Office and the dreamy hearthrob occupying it, this has struck a nerve among the netroots. Blog after blog over the last several days had comments from outraged little soldiers demanding that tired old tactic, the advertising boycott (because it obviously worked so well the last time they used it).
I’ve seen this come up several times now over the past few years, and really, the only example that could even be partially described as a success was the Imus brouhaha from a couple years ago. Partially, because it wasn’t the netroots alone who applied pressure, and most obviously because Imus just had to lay low for awhile before getting right back in the saddle again. But everyone’s drunk on hopenchange juice and their own self-righteousness, so here we go again.
I’ve asked people before how they feel comfortable with such tactics, and they usually give some lawyerly response about how it’s not really censorship as long as government troops aren’t kicking his door down, that no one’s saying he doesn’t have a right to his opinions, just that he doesn’t have a right to broadcast them to a national audience on the public airwaves, that they’re perfectly within their own rights to refuse to patronize businesses that provide the funding that put him on the air. All of which is true in a limited sense. Unfortunately, it’s also sophistry. It’s extremely disingenuous, relying on indirect loopholes to shut someone up. Hey, I didn’t put a pillow directly over Grandpa’s face and smother him, I just locked him in an airtight room!
Ask yourselves this: when the same logic was applied to the Dixie Chicks case in 2003, did you see that as fair play? After all, no one was trying to say they couldn’t express their opinions to anyone within earshot, they were just saying that they didn’t have a right to a musical career, and the consumers were perfectly within their rights to tell radio stations that they would no longer listen to them if they continued to play songs by the Three French Hens. Amazing how everyone saw this for the bad faith effort to silence unpopular voices that it was. Liberals Progressives still occasionally bring up how terrible it was that Phil Donohue’s show got canceled despite good ratings because no one wanted to be associated with a slightly liberal show when the whole country was going apeshit with jingoism. I don’t know why, because after all, it’s all about making the consumers happy, isn’t it? How about when Michelle Malkin led a crusade against Dunkin’ Donuts for Rachael Ray’s scarf, or just a few weeks ago, when the fetus-fetish crowd went after Krispy Kreme? Was that grassroots democracy in action, or just paranoid, thuggish intimidation? (All of which brings up another important point: the right wing is much, much better at this sort of army ant behavior, so perhaps you should think long and hard about legitimizing this sort of strategy for dealing with political opponents.)
And you know, if your typical liberal progressive had any brains at all, they’d put Limbaugh, Coulter, Palin and the Plumber in a Real World-style setting with cameras and mics on at all times. Wind ’em up and let ’em go. Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican party! But no, the impulse to act like a hypersensitive shrieking ninny is too powerful, I suppose. The end result is that it does nothing but reinforce that besieged bunker mentality, to allow Rush to tell his herd how once again, the forces of political correctness are trying to keep them from hearing the truth, letting them wallow in their persecution complex. Even if you could somehow get his radio show removed from the airwaves, he’d reach his minions through direct mail, webcasts or some other means. What the hell is the point? It’s still good advice for people not overflowing with their own moral rectitude and self-righteousness – if you don’t like it, don’t fucking listen to it.
One thing that’s always struck me since beginning to read the mainstream political blogs is how the issue of concentrated media ownership never comes up, when it was a constant feature of actual leftist commentary. Instead, here you have these morons unwittingly trying to make it so that only someone like Bill Gates or Rupert Murdoch can express a pointed or controversial opinion without having to fear for their job. Really, guys? You want to ignore people’s increasing dependence on corporate sponsors to provide anything like a platform or a megaphone that can cut through the oceans of white noise and Twittering idiocy while doing everything you can to make those advertisers more skittish and unwilling to take a chance on anything that doesn’t suit their already vanilla, anodyne standards? Brilliant!, as the Barq’s root beer ads go. Let’s make it so that opinions have to run the gauntlet of mob rule and fickle public opinion to get a fair hearing! Why, I can’t possibly see how this could come back to bite you on your oblivious asses.