Monday, March 05, 2012

Vocabulary Is Not The Problem

Last week I wrote a few paragraphs on the subject of free speech. The subtext would have been clear to any American paying attention: the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 went into effect on March 1. Predator Obama signed it into law, like a fucking coward, on New Year's Eve, hiding behind the fact that some Americans were celebrating the calendar's birthday, some were trying to avoid getting attacked with chemical weapons by municipal security forces in body armor, and some were just trying to get some sleep before another work day.

By now you know that the NDAA gives authoritarian serial killers like Obama and whatever scum-sucking fascist theocrat follows him the legal cover to kidnap and torture anyone on the planet, at any time, for any reason (or lack thereof).

But the timing of what I wrote coincided with something else that corporate and social media has latched on to here in the United States of Bombing People: right wing influence peddler and living embodiment of a pile of shit Rush Limbaugh had some derogatory words for Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student and advocate for women's reproductive rights who spoke to the US Congress on the need for women to have access to birth control as part of their health insurance coverage.

Nothing new, there are innumerable evil men like Limbaugh on American radio, preaching hatred for women, under the cover of "family" or "religious" or "conservative" values, every hour of every day. As nasty as it was, and as much as I would like to punch him in the face repeatedly for saying it, I believe that Limbaugh had the "right" to say what he said. Bowing to the public pressure applied to his corporate paymasters over a span of two whole days, he did sort of almost apologize for this one particular incidence of his rhetorical violence against women.

It's a difficult thing for me to articulate, this right of someone I hate to say things I hate, because I don't want any mother or sister or daughter to ever be called a "slut". Women (in the United States as elsewhere in industrial civilization) continue to be the subjects of violent rhetoric, laws, and social behavior that are all unacceptable. How do we end this violence? Is it enough to decide what can and cannot be said?

I think not. Any person of conscience is sickened and outraged by the misogynistic speech of assholes like Rush Limbaugh. But then, people of conscience are sickened and outraged by a patriarchal culture that accepts and normalizes violence and hatred directed at women in every aspect of our society.

Rush Limbaugh is a symptom. In our culture there will always be scumbag misogynists like him because it is our very culture which is misogynistic. Dig: liberals want Limbaugh taken off the air for his disgusting use of words, but have few or no words themselves when it comes to the men giving orders at this moment to literally murder women. It is no secret that women bare the heaviest burden of war, and the United States is at constant war, as the NDAA clearly reflects. Wars need armies. How often and how aggressively does the US military prosecute its male soldiers for raping its women soldiers? But here's another example, the war on Afghanistan, which is particularly brutal.


Afghan women face three enemies: the misogynist Taliban, the misogynist Afghan warlords (made over to look like a legitimate government), and the misogynist Western warlords who are engaged in an imperial war of aggression (the supreme crime under international law, if you get with that sort of thing). The US and its NATO partners routinely bomb civilian targets. Women, men, and children who go to recover the remains of their loved ones after indiscriminate bombing raids (which in themselves are an outrage) are the deliberate targets of secondary bombing raids. In order to terrorize the population, bombing raids are conducted by President Exelon's "Reaper" and "Predator" robot planes on weddings, funerals, homes, schools. Such attacks have increased manifold since the Nobel Prize-winning father of two took over for George W. Bush, another sociopathic baby-killing father. (Read A Woman Among Warlords, the indispensable memoir of the young Afghan opposition leader and women's rights advocate Malalai Joya, to learn about the desperate and worsening situation for women in her country.)

Let's walk and chew gum at the same time. Sure, I can get with any campaign to remove scumbags like Rush Limbaugh from the airwaves. Let's call out, shame and boycott every last one of the advertisers of his radio program, let's out the corporate network (Clear Channel), and the network's owner (Bain Capital), and the fascist theocrat scumbag politician associated with it (Mitt Romney). (Let's boot the system of commercial airwaves while we're at it.) But I can't get with all that unless we also get real. Spectacular violence is being done to women by the Obama government with an alarming willingness by his cheerleaders (well what the fuck are they, anyway? fans? followers?) to forget it or forgive it. It's unacceptable and unforgivable.

Everything I have written here, up to this point, is consistent with my writing over the years. To make a case against a morally repugnant, nationally significant figure I have used an example from the far side of the globe. But I might as well look over the fence to see how my neighbor is treated by her husband. I might notice, jesus it was just today, how the two "good natured" male hosts of a seemingly benign NPR chat show guffawed with a male caller over how hysterical their wives can be. I might check my own patriarchal privileges and advantages.

Some people talk about pragmatism, some people talk about a "lesser" political evil. They need to know that if they want to be taken seriously in their opposition to violence against women, it cannot be selective. In the current cultural climate of the United States, if all we do is censor speech, regardless of how righteous we think it might be in the isolated moment, watch how fast such power will be used against those who continually find themselves at the receiving end of the culture's violence and oppression.

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