Limbaugh Defends Offensive Rape Comments By Hiding Behind "Absurdity" Defense
Research ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO & JUSTIN BERRIER
After Rush Limbaugh compared recently enacted filibuster reform to a vote "allow[ing] women to be raped," a spokesman defended the host by saying, "Limbaugh has spent 25 years illustrating absurdity by using extrapolated analogies." Indeed, Limbaugh has a long history of making outrageous, offensive comparisons and invoking rape when discussing politics.
Limbaugh Concocts Offensive Rape Analogy To Attack Filibuster Reform
Limbaugh Compares Filibuster Reform To Vote "Allow[ing] Women To Be Raped." From the November 22 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: Let's forget the Senate for a minute. 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." 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. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/23/13]
Limbaugh Spokesman Defends Comments As "Illustrating Absurdity." In a statement to The Daily Caller, a Limbaugh spokesman defended the comments by arguing that Limbaugh has "spent 25 years illustrating absurdity by using extrapolated analogies," adding, "Anyone who calls this anything different than that is simply lying." [Daily Caller, 11/23/13]
Limbaugh Has Invoked "Absurdity" Defense Before, Spins Offensive Comments As "Media Tweak"
In Apology To Fluke, Limbaugh Invokes "Absurdity." In a statement on his website apologizing to former Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke for calling her a "slut" and a "prostitute," Limbaugh wrote: "For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke." [RushLimbaugh.com, 3/3/12]
"Media Tweak": Limbaugh's Empty Excuse For Everything. When Limbaugh is criticized for making offensive statements, he frequently defends himself by claiming that what he said was a "media tweak." [Media Matters, 8/18/11]
Limbaugh Frequently Invokes Rape When Discussing Politics
Limbaugh Compared Workers Unionizing To "Rap[ing] Fellow Citizens." On the May 16, 2011, edition of his show, Limbaugh asked a caller whether he would like to join a union. When the caller said no, Limbaugh responded "OK. So you don't want to rape fellow citizens?" [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/16/11]
Limbaugh Compared Conservatives Criticized For Their Violent Rhetoric To Rape Victims. From the January 11, 2011, edition of Limbaugh's radio show:
LIMBAUGH: Ladies and gentlemen, NBC Eyeball News Chicago, NBC-TV affiliate, Rahm Emanuel is saying the Giffords shooting is not a crisis to exploit. I have the weblink; I'll send it up to Cookie here in just a moment. We'll actually hear this being stated.
Mark Halperin, Time magazine, blamed the anger of the right-wing commentariat, and he included George Will for the controversy started when CNN and other media outlets began tying the shooting in Arizona to Sarah Palin and the tea party activists. Mark Halperin, Time magazine.
Now, it was pointed out to Mark Halperin that conservatives, Sarah Palin, were the ones who got smeared, not the other way around. And Halperin said, well, they should have just turned the other cheek and stopped defending themselves, and they would have shut this thing all down. So yeah, just -- that's what they used to tell women who were raped, wasn't it? Just sit back and enjoy it, put some ice on it, like Clinton said, put some ice on the lip, you asked for it, your dress asked for it, just sit back and enjoy it. Isn't that how they used to tell raped women to deal with it?
So now Mark Halperin, Time magazine, just you know, turn the other cheek and it'll all go away, you just sustain this if you fight back. And Robert -- I'm sorry, Patrick Kennedy, who lost two uncles to assassins' bullets, says there's an obvious connection between the violent rhetoric of today's politics and the massacre in Tucson. He says when Sarah Palin puts targets on people's districts or you have 10,000 signs on the mall during the health care battle saying "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy" -- first, I would like to see some proof that there were 10,000 signs. But it says here in Politico that Saturday's tragedy touches on both elements of Kennedy's new mission in life: helping somebody after they've been afflicted by a brain injury, and ensuring universal access to mental health services.
Mr. Kennedy, your uncle was shot by a communist, Lee Harvey Oswald. Your other uncle, Robert Kennedy, was shot by a militant Islamist, Sirhan Sirhan. In neither case were your uncle's assassins related to Sarah Palin in any way. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/11/11]
Limbaugh: Obama Thinks Union Members And The Poor "Have Effectively Been Raped By American Capitalism." On his May 6, 2009, broadcast, Limbaugh stated:
LIMBAUGH: He [Obama] thinks these people should have something for nothing, because they have been raped. The union people and the disadvantaged, the downtrodden, the poor have effectively been raped by American capitalism, and they have a lot of stuff coming due. A lot of stuff is owed to them. How is it -- if you -- Snerdley's looking at me with a look of total stunned disbelief. If I'm wrong about this, I want you to explain something to me.
How is it that in this whole process of saving Chrysler, 55 percent of the company goes to unions who only had 10 percent of the bonds? How are they given 55 percent if they only had a 10 percent stake in the debt of Chrysler? I mean, this whole thing is a thumb in the nose and a cramdown, if you will, of the new way American business is going to be structured if Obama has his hands in it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/6/09]
Limbaugh On Health Care Bill: "Get Ready To Get Gang-Raped Again, Folks." Discussing health care reform in June 2009, Limbaugh told listeners, "get ready to get gang-raped again, folks":
LIMBAUGH: Well, isn't this good? Get ready to get gang-raped again, folks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will not give the public a week to review the final text of a health care reform bill before it's voted on later this year. And Harry Reid has also declined to commit to giving the public a week to read and consider the final health care bill, despite Obama promising that all legislation would be up for five days on one of his stupid websites where everybody could read it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/24/09]
Limbaugh Claimed That Obama Wanted His "Pay Czar" To "Rape" Finance Executives. In 2009, Limbaugh claimed that Kenneth Feinberg, who had been appointed to oversee executive compensation at companies that had gotten funds through the Troubled Asset Relief Program, was likely ordered by Obama to "rape" the executives:
LIMBAUGH: I think everything about this story, this "pay czar," is blockbuster. It is -- I mean, it's late-night comedy gold. Everything about the story is a lie. ... Every detail about this story has to be a lie. I refuse to believe that Obama didn't know what Feinberg was doing. In fact, the truth probably is Feinberg's following orders. Feinberg is following orders and I guaran-damn-tee you Obama said: "You get up there and you rape 'em. And you make 'em poor. And you make 'em pay. And you let 'em know. Just don't tell 'em that I knew anything about it." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/22/09]
Limbaugh: "People In The Private Sector Are Getting Raped By This Administration." During his May 29, 2009, radio show, Limbaugh stated:
LIMBAUGH: We need a Supreme Court justice; we need somebody on the Supreme Court who was a bondholder for either General Motors or Chrysler, who can sympathize with how the bondholders are getting shafted here. We need somebody with empathy. We need somebody on the Supreme Court who can understand how people in the private sector are getting raped by this administration. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/29/09]
Limbaugh Has Been Trafficking In Offensive Comparisons For Years
Limbaugh Compared Welfare Recipients To Wild Animals Who Rely On Humans For Food. In April 2012, Limbaugh compared recipients of government benefits to wild animals who are fed by humans and "become dependent and no longer function as nature intends":
LIMBAUGH: The same people who, if you go to a state park, will not let you feed the animals because they will become dependent, just like you were. And they won't be able to survive, just like you couldn't. And they won't be able to fend for themselves, just like you couldn't. And they won't be able to feed themselves, and they won't be able to thrive, and they will not be able to detect danger and so forth. So they know, but they want you to stay dependent. They want you to stay on welfare. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/4/12]
Limbaugh Compared Children Receiving Free Lunches To Family Pets. On the September 6 edition of his show, Limbaugh attacked free lunch programs for children, comparing them to getting a new pet:
LIMBAUGH: When you get a new pet, what is the first thing you do to try to bond with it? You want to be the one to feed it, right? You don't want anybody else feeding that new puppy or kitten. You are gonna do it because you know that that puppy or kitten is going to bond with you first, and when that happens, everybody else is getting second and third dibs. That pet is always gonna be yours if you're the only one who feeds it. Well, same thing here. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/6/13]
Limbaugh Compared Banning Insurance Companies From Denying Coverage To People With Pre-Existing Conditions To Forcing Home Insurance Companies To Cover A Burning House. From the September 9, 2009, edition of Limbaugh's radio show:
LIMBAUGH: This pre-existing conditions -- can I give you an illustration here of why pre-existing condition coverage in health insurance is - that -- it's silly. You're gonna pay out the wazoo for pre-existing coverage. Let's say you do not have fire insurance in your home. And all of a sudden your house starts burning. And instead of calling the fire department, you call an insurance company and say, "I need to buy a policy. I want a policy that protects me against fire." "Oh, OK, well we'll give it to you." "No no no, I need it right now. My house is burning down." You think the insurance company would sell you an insurance policy in the middle of a fire destroying your house? It's the same thing as when you have a pre-existing medical condition and you want to be insured for it. You're going to pay out the wazoo for it, folks. And Obama promising that you're going to be insured for pre-existing conditions is BS, or it's going to break the bank making it happen. It's ridiculous. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/9/09]
Limbaugh Repeatedly Compared Health Care Reform To Nazi Policies. During the fight over health care reform, Limbaugh repeatedly invoked Nazi Germany to attack Obamacare. For example, on the October 1, 2009, edition of his radio show, Limbaugh complained about people who had been criticizing him for comparing health care reform efforts to the Nazis' attempts to "remake and order their country using health care as the springboard":
LIMBAUGH: When I endeavored to intellectually and properly explain the similarities between the national socialism of Germany and Obama's health care plan, then they said "You can't do that! Hitler, six million people were killed! You can't compare" -- no, no, no, I'm not I'm not. A lot of stuff happened before the Holocaust, and just because the Holocaust happened doesn't mean we have to ignore everything else Hitler was about. And just as Obama's doing, Hitler -- well, even prior to Hitler -- German socialists attempted to remake and order their country using health care as the springboard and the foundation. Same thing that's happening here. Hitler was a man of the left. Nazi is simply the term for the national socialists of Germany. They're far more in common, the national socialists and their domestic policies -- short of the Holocaust -- they're far more in common with what Obama's doing than with anybody on the right. So when we make this comparison, after Pelosi calls us all Nazis. All right, you want to call us Nazis, let's do a comparison, Mrs. Pelosi. Let's see, really, who is closer to the national socialists of Germany. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/1/09]
Limbaugh Compared Obama To Dictators Like Hitler, Stalin, And Mao Who Were "Never Really Blamed ... For The Things That Happen In Their Countries." From the February 13 edition of Limbaugh's radio program:
LIMBAUGH: Throughout history, dictators, for example, have never really been blamed for the bad things that happen in their countries. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro -- none of them were blamed by the rank-and-file citizenry. They were instead the leaders of the revolution. They were the great figures trying to change all the evil that was happening to everybody. Here's Obama. Let me prove this to you. I have for you a little sound bite -- 36 seconds -- people from the Frank Luntz focus group on Fox last night. Every one of these people voted for Mitt Romney. These are swing voters in Santa Monica.
Those people all voted for Romney. And they -- even the people that voted for Romney -- do not associate Obama with any of the problems in the country. This is what you and I are going to have to learn and learn fast. No matter what is said, no matter what evidence happens, no matter what's reported, it will not be possible to connect Obama to the negativity that's happening in the country today because he's campaigning against it himself. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/13/13]
Limbaugh Compared The Construction Of Islamic Center Near Ground Zero To Building A Hindu Temple Next To Pearl Harbor. In the midst of conservatives' campaign against the proposed Park51 Islamic center in downtown Manhattan, Limbaugh likened the proposed project to building a Hindu temple at Pearl Harbor:
LIMBAUGH: Let's do this. Let's suggest that we build a Hindu temple right next to the Arizona memorial out at Pearl Harbor. Why? Outreach. Shall we have no hard feelings? Put a Hindu temple there. How about a mosque next to the Pentagon? Why stop at the World Trade Center? Put a mosque next to the Pentagon and let's put a mosque right next to the soon-to-be-completed Flight 93 national memorial in Pennsylvania. If outreach is what we're talking about here, why stop at the World Trade Center? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/16/10]
Limbaugh later clarified, saying, "I said a Hindu temple at Arizona memorial. I meant Shinto shrine. Hindus are Indian." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/16/10]
Limbaugh Likened Obama Campaign Speech To Pearl Harbor. Following a December 2011 speech Obama gave in Osawatomie, Kansas, to Pearl Harbor, Limbaugh labeled the day he gave the speech as "Pearl Harbor Day number two: the attack on the country by the president":
LIMBAUGH: When is this? It's Wednesday. It's a Wednesday. Right. OK. Pearl Harbor Day. In infamy. The day that will live in infamy. Absolutely right. Pearl Harbor Day. Of course yesterday was Pearl Harbor Day number two: the attack on the country by the president of the United States in that speech in Osawatomie, Kansas.
We -- as I promised yesterday, we have the audio sound bites from that speech. I've studied it. It's depressing. It's just depressing to actually have the most powerful man in the country aligned against it; to have the most powerful man in the country seeing this country through crosshairs.
It is -- it is -- well, I run the gamut of emotions. I mean, it's anger, frustration, sadness. It's just amazing. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/7/13]
Limbaugh Compared Nomination Of Sotomayor To Nominating White Supremacist David Duke. On the May 29, 2009, edition of his show, Limbaugh reacted to the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court by asking, "How can a president nominate such a candidate?" and saying, "That's what would be asked if somebody were foolish enough to nominate David Duke or pick somebody even less offensive":
LIMBAUGH: I care about whether she's qualified, and I think she's disqualified herself. Not only does she lack the often-discussed appropriate judicial temperament, it's worse than that. She brings a form of bigotry or racism to the court. I don't care -- we're not supposed to say it, we're supposed to pretend it didn't happen, we're supposed to look at other things, but it's the elephant in the room. The real question here that needs to be asked -- and nobody on our side, from a columnist to a TV commentator to anybody in our party, has the guts to ask: How can a president nominate such a candidate? And how can a party get behind such a candidate? That's what would be asked if somebody were foolish enough to nominate David Duke or pick somebody even less offensive. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/29/09]
Limbaugh also compared Sotomayor to late mob boss John Gotti. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/26/09]
Limbaugh Attacked Marriage Equality By Comparing It To The Effort "To Normalize Pedophilia." On the January 7 edition of his show, Limbaugh compared "an effort underway to normalize pedophilia" to marriage equality:
LIMBAUGH: There is an effort underway to normalize pedophilia. Yep. And it has two aspects to it. One is that sex with children doesn't hurt them. Kids like it, and so do adults, and there's nothing wrong with it. It is something... I want to take you back. I want you to remember the first time, wherever you were, that you heard about gay marriage, and I want you to try to recall your reaction - your first gut reaction - when you heard that some activists or somebody was trying to promote the notion of gay marriage. What was your initial reaction? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/7/13, via RushLimbaugh.com]
Limbaugh Compared Then-Labor Secretary Nominee Tom Perez To Hugo Chavez, "Grand Kleagle Of The Ku Klux Klan." On the March 18 edition of his radio program, Limbaugh claimed that Tom Perez, then-nominee for Secretary of Labor, "may as well be Hugo Chavez." Limbaugh also suggested that due to Perez's treatment of a case involving the New Black Panthers during his time at the Department of Justice, Perez's nomination would be like if Bush had nominated "the Grand Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan to a cabinet position where he would be deciding on discrimination lawsuits":
LIMBAUGH: Speaking of leftists. Obama has just nominated a replacement for Hilda Solis at the -- what is it, the Department of Labor -- the Labor Department. Is the LRB or is it the Labor Department? Can I tell you who this guy is? This guy's name is Tom Perez, and he may as well be Hugo Chavez. And that is not an exaggeration. Yep, Tom Perez is his name. And I'll tell you who this guy is. He is the guy in the Department of Justice in the civil rights division who made the call not to prosecute the New Black Panthers. This is history. Now, I want to play a little game with you folks. Let's -- in a hypothetical, let's replace Obama with George W. Bush, and the Black Panthers with the Ku Klux Klan. Now, I want you to try to imagine, Bush's head of the civil rights division not prosecuting Klanners when they engage in voter intimidation. And then, after not prosecuting Klanners for that, then imagine what would happen if Bush turned around and nominated the Grand Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan to a cabinet position where he would be deciding on discrimination lawsuits. That is exactly what's happened here. There would be unmitigated hell to pay if that had happened. If George W. Bush puts a Klansman in his cabinet, there would be hell to pay -- it's essentially what's happened here. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/18/13]
Limbaugh Compared "Little Man" Obama To A "Little Kid" Who "Becomes King Due To A Premature Death." After comparing Obama to Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez because they're all "delusionally megalomaniacal," Limbaugh likened Obama to a "little kid" who "becomes king due to a premature death":
LIMBAUGH: He's delirious in the way that Castro and Chavez and other dictators through history were -- dangerously, delusionally megalomaniacal. This is really, really scary. Saying, "I don't quit, I don't quit." That means he's gonna -- and all the left, the left tried to say that he's gonna do a Reagan, gonna do a Clinton. That he's gonna move to the center and triangulate. He said "I'm not quitting," and what that means is that I'm gonna keep governing against you. I'm going to force-feed or jam a liberal agenda down your throat, whatever it takes. I don't know, folks. I don't like saying these kinds of things about the president of the United States, but it was a speech that was not presidential. Is there one sane person left in the country not sick of being lectured by a petty little man with the political instincts of a Chicago thug?
Here's the truth, folks. No matter where he is, Barack Obama is always the least experienced, most condescending guy in the room. He has a personality uniquely unsuited for constructive leadership, Community organizing? Yeah. Leadership? No. He's boorish. Now, Bill Clinton knew all this and hasn't received sufficient credit. He tried to tell us about this guy. And I guess for Chris Matthews, he forgot that he was black for an hour and it must mean Obama wasn't using his black dialect last night, according to Dingy Harry Reid. This must be what it feels like to live in a monarchy when some little kid becomes king due to a premature death. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/28/10]
See here for more examples of Limbaugh comparing Obama to a child.
Limbaugh Compared The Obama Administration To The Mafia. Limbaugh compared a 2010 contribution from the pharmaceutical industry to help advertise in support of health care reform to a "protection racket," because business are "dealing with the mafia":
LIMBAUGH: Here's a good question: What good does it do a business to offload health care costs if the entire damned economy goes to hell? Any smart business owner does not want Obamacare. Au contraire. Have you heard of big pharmaceutical? You heard big pharmaceutical signing on, giving Obama $150 billion to support advertising that would support his health care plan. Why did they do it? It's a protection racket. When a business sees where a government is taking the country, and if they don't think they can stop it, they want to be on the right side of it, because they're dealing with the mafia. A mafia with limited -- unlimited -- resources. [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/5/10]
Limbaugh Compared The Lack Of Evidence Connecting Obama To The IRS Scandal To Lack Of Direct Evidence Linking Hitler To The Holocaust. On the June 7 edition of his show, Limbaugh claimed no documents could link Hitler to the Holocaust, saying "It's a point that I've made here about the IRS. They say, 'Well, you can't link it in to Obama.' You don't need to link Obama to it":
LIMBAUGH: He said whether you believe it or not, there is not one document linking Adolf Hitler to the holocaust. Adolf Hitler never put it on paper what he intended to do. There is no smoking gun. And yet what happened? We know that the Nazis engaged in the Holocaust. Herb Meyer's point was that the people Hitler hired didn't have to be told. They didn't have to be given instructions. All they had to do was listen to what Hitler was saying. All they had to do was listen to what his objectives were. And he said the same thing's happening here with this administration. He went to great pains to say: I'm not calling this administration a bunch of Nazis. I'm just using this as an illustration. I know people will get my point if I use something this notorious, the Nazi regime.
It's a point that I've made here about the IRS. They say, "Well, you can't link it in to Obama." You don't need to link Obama to it. He hired these people. Lois Lerner and everybody at the IRS who's doing this is doing everything they can to please Obama. There's not gonna be a smoking gun, but you don't need a smoking gun to know where this administration's doing what it's doing. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/7/13, via RushLimbaugh.com]
Limbaugh Compared Obama Administration's Policy Toward Libya To "When Steve Jobs Was First Diagnosed With Cancer" -- "Denial And So Forth." Discussing Libya in 2011, Limbaugh said:
LIMBAUGH: Everybody wants a happy ending, so you just tell yourself that this is going to end happily, and that's what's going to happen? It's just like when Steve Jobs was first diagnosed with cancer. He said, you know what, I'm just going to tell myself I don't have cancer, and that's gonna fix it. Something magical is going to happen. I'm just not gonna accept this. You're telling me that that's how our foreign policy and diplomatic core dealt with this? They want a happy ending, so going to give happy ending vibes? Well, yeah, denial and so forth. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/24/11]