Michael Ian Black:

The difference between what Louis said, and what Rush said is this: in his apology, Rush made a point of saying that his personal attacks on Ms. Fluke, were not intended “as a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”

In other words, when he specifically called Sandra Fluke a “slut,” “a prostitute,” and encouraged her to post sex videos of herself online so he could watch, it was not personal. It was, therefore, general. Which I, for one, believe because it fits perfectly within the larger context of Rush Limbaugh’s twenty-plus years of ad hominem attacks on “feminazis” and gratuitous comments about all female journalists as “news babes.”

With Louis, his insult was actually the opposite: it was a highly personal attack. The target of his insult, Sarah Palin, so infuriated him that he felt the need to call her the very worst name he could think of. His insult referred to a specific woman at a specific time and place.

“Cunt” is the very worst name he could think of? Well, if we’re going to take people at their word:

No words are bad, but some people start using them a lot to hurt other people, and then they become bad. They become hard to–and there’s words that I love that I can’t use because other people use them wrong, to hurt other people… like, the word “cunt” is a beautiful word. To me, there’s just beauty in that word, and I don’t–I mean aesthetically. It has–it’s like chocolatey and round on the ends. I just like the–cunt–I just like the way it sounds. And I don’t use it as an insult. I’m alone in the laundry. I’m like, ♪♪ cuunt cuuuunt ♪♪

I just like saying it. I would never call a woman a cunt, except for my mom, ’cause she likes it for some weird reason. But it’s a very misused word. It’s supposed to mean vagina, which I don’t think works at all, because vaginas are so sweet. They’re little, pretty things with little flower petal-y lips and–I hear a piccolo in my head every time I see a vagina. ♪♪ Doodle-oodle-doo ♪♪ ♪♪ did-a-liddle-loo ♪♪ ♪♪ bliddle-liddle-liddle-loo ♪♪

Even vagina’s too harsh for— they should be called, like, a falalalala. [sings pleasant sounds] There should be a butterfly fluttering around every vagina all the time. Just all the time. Little butterfly. When you go to the doctor, he’s like, “Well, the butterfly looks good, so we’re in good shape.” How do you look at something that pretty and say, “That’s a cunt!” — that doesn’t fit at all. Maybe if it was a giant vagina and it was attacking a town and throwing busses around and knocking over telephone poles. Then you could say, “Hey, somebody shoot that cunt with a bazooka!”

I guess, then, that he either meant it as a compliment toward Palin, or he thinks she’s Godzilla.

Anyway, the gist of what I’ve been seeing about this argument seems to be that people like C.K. and Bill Maher are just guilty of isolated transgressions, but Rush is a certifiable misogynist, or as one recent article put it, Rush Limbaugh obviously and unambiguously hates women. Is that true, though? It reminds me of being accused of “hating America” — it’s so all-encompassing as to be nonsensical. I mean, I’d say that, like many conservatives, he hates change, if anything. I’m sure he likes women just fine, as long as they share his politics or keep themselves confined to a largely subordinate role in society. On the other hand, liberals support general concepts of gender equality, but often have no problem using crude sexual or racial insults toward individual members of the group in question who dissent in some way. Does that make them misogynists and racists to whatever degree, or just jerks?

Or, as the A.V. Club wisely sums up:

And thus really, as always, this all boils down to who said what about whom and whether you already like them, and we’re not even going to pretend as though we don’t like Louis C.K. a whole lot more than Rush Limbaugh or Greta Van Susteren.