How Charming

From Rush Limbaugh (as quoted in ABC News’ The Note), talking about the Georgetown law student who spoke out in favor of legal mandates that contraception be covered in health plans:

“Can you imagine if you’re her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke you would be?” he said. “Your daughter … testifies she’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the pope.”

Fluke testified that without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman as much as $3,000 during law school.

“Three thousand dollars for birth control in three years? That’s a thousand dollars a year of sex — and, she wants us to pay for it,” Limbaugh said, adding that high school boys applying to college should consider Georgetown. “They’re admitting before congressional committee that they’re having so much sex they can’t afford the birth control pills!”

The conservative radio host continued: “What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.”

Limbaugh shied away from his word choice towards the end of his show, saying “So, she’s not a slut. She’s round-heeled. I take it back.” Round-heeled, though, is a euphemism for the same thing, an old-fashioned term for a “promiscuous woman.”

The logic makes no sense. There’s nothing substantive in common between being paid to have sex, and having contraceptives be provided by a health plan. (Would you call a man a gigolo because he uses a condom that he got for free from some university giveaway?) The allegation that somehow Ms. Fluke is “having so much sex” strikes me as misunderstanding the way birth control pills work: You have to take them all the time even if you’re having sex only rarely, and even if you’re having sex with only one person (I mention this because the implication seems to me that Ms. Fluke is being promiscuous). Beyond this, I should think that most parents have to recognize that their 21-to-24-year-old daughters — remember, she’s a law student — probably are having sex with someone; I would think that even in conservative circles, many 21-to-24-year-old women these days are having sex (even assuming Limbaugh was limiting his comments to unmarried women).

But beyond that, consider the manners: Instead of dealing with a woman’s arguments on their own, he’s trying to slime her with vulgarities. I would think that parents would much rather hear on the radio that their 21-year-old daughters are using birth control than that their grown sons are calling women “sluts” on national radio.