Friday, January 15, 2010

They said what???

What do Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson and the staff of the University of Notre Dame's newspaper The Observer all have in common? No, this isn't a joke as I do not like to mention 'Notre Dame' in the same breath as these two men. All three have found themselves in a bit of hot water this week when they acted without thinking first.

First off, let me make no bones about it. I despise political and religious intolerance, and I have a very deep disdain for both Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. I find them both to be pompous, hypocritical windbags.

Both are guilty of regularly inserting their foot in their mouth(s). And for Notre Dame, I expected better than what happened there earlier in the week.

In ranking of particular importance, I task both Limbaugh and Robertson, as I think they all too often speak without considering the implication of their words.

In case you missed it, Pat Robertson earlier this week practically said that the disaster in Haiti was invited upon its people after they had made a pact with the devil when they threw the French government out (many, many decades ago).

Now mind you, it's hard to take Pat Robertson's (I hate to even call him a reverend) rants seriously. He has, for years, made cryptic Biblical threats when he has seen actions for which he doesn't agree. I mean, don't you know, Hurricane Katrina visited New Orleans because of the actions of homosexuals residing there; likewise when he said meteors would flatten Orlando, Florida, for similar reasons. He even indicated that the acts of 9/11 were the results of this nation's collective sins (funny, Osama Bin Laden would agree with the right reverend over this issue).

Robertson has been making these ridiculous rants for decades and it must make for great ratings for his '700 Club' when he goes into one of these religious stupors, otherwise why would he do it? You don't really suppose God visits upon Robertson's altar to whisper in his ear about what he (or she) is displeased about this week, do you? And no one else?

C'mon. Religious leaders like Robertson truly test my patience. Seriously, I believe in God... it's just some of God's messed up religious leaders (dare I say kooks?) and institutions in which I have little or no faith.

Radio commentator (and unofficial) rank-in-faith leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh is off his rocker yet again. This week, in the aftermath, of the Haitian disaster said on his program that President Obama is using the disaster to hone and bolster his political image.

I was not aware that offering humanitarian aid was a political tool--I always, and maybe stupidly, thought it was the Christian and moral thing to do. Would Mr. Limbaugh prefer we stand by as thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people suffer and die by our inactions?

If by Limbaugh's definition that our President is acting out of political gain, then President George W. Bush was guilty of this as well when offering humanitarian aid when the tsunamis struck Indian Ocean countries in 2004... or when President Bush offered humanitarian aid when Katrina struck New Orleans... oh wait, we all know how well the Bush administration reacted to that disaster.

Maybe President Bush believed Pat Robertson's claims and decided NOLA wasn't worth the effort?

Both of these two men have refused to apologize for their comments. Robertson said he was quoted out of context--and to be fair, Robertson did offer prayers to the Haitian citizens.

Mr. Limbaugh says he stands behind his words. Both... both so-called righteous men are morons as far as I am concerned.

Do Republicans really need a leader, even if they won't admit that is what role Limbaugh plays, like this loud-mouthed hypocritical radio show host? Limbaugh would be quick to say that he is not a politician, but a commentator and an entertainer.

I would also offer that he is none of the above.

AND then there is The Observer. Normally, I have the utmost respect for the University of Notre Dame's daily newspaper. After working at the university for eight years, I feel I have some insights about the school.

To read of the following incident hurts me; I love Notre Dame. I always have. My son is a 1999 ND graduate, and for those who feel the school is far too conservative, I would offer that that is not necessarily the case and that the student body and its faculty have done great things in its long storied history.

But with the January 13, 2010, issue I must take a sad exception. The staff must have taken a collective leave of absence on Wednesday when they published a cartoon strip that asked the following.

"How do you turn a fruit into a vegetable?" The answer, according to the strip, was "a baseball bat!"

What??? This thinly veiled and patently unfunny comic was, unfortunately, referring to gays. I am simply shocked beyond words--AND for many reasons beyond the obvious.

I worked at Notre Dame Law School Library in 1998 when University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was beaten and tortured and left to die by two local criminals. University of Notre Dame students, like many other universities stood united in fellowship and voiced their opposition together against hate and bigotry. I stood with hundreds of ND students and faculty members at a candlelit vigil that was moving beyond words. Prayers were offered for Shepard's recovery, and sadly in this case those prayers went unanswered.

Shepard's death shook our students and many of us adults too--and citizens around the world. Many activists have tirelessly worked since to ensure that his death would not be in vain (made all the more obvious by the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009).

But the publication of this strip has unquestionably done much to undo the goodwill fostered on this campus.

Worse still--and much more troubling, the comic strip original Q & A was as follows. "How do you turn a fruit into a vegetable?" This time, the far more offensive punchline, answered by saying, "AIDS." Real funny, huh?

Have we not gotten beyond this sort of stupidity, this kind of bigotry? Obviously not.

This incident begs many questions, what were these young people, these bright, young journalists thinking? How could they have permitted such a pointed cartoon to go to press? What of the artist's character of this strip? Where was the newspaper's faculty adviser who permitted this comic strip to be included? And what does this say about the university itself?

Sadly, to some degree the Golden Dome is a bit tarnished in my eyes today.

BUT on the positive side of this episode, and to the newspaper's credit, the editor and staff ran a detailed apology in today's edition. Unlike the elder Robertson and Limbaugh, the staff of the Observer realized its error and quickly took measures to rectify their mistake. They did the right thing, but this staff certainly took a hit on the stage of journalistic moral integrity.

Lastly, will Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh follow suit? Don't hold your breath. Stupidity is alive and well on America's television and radio airwaves!

photo of the University of Notre Dame administration building is by the author.


  1. That is extremely disappointing for ND, but glad to see that they quickly recognized the shame. It should never have been published.

  2. Nicely put, Doug.
    It amazes me that a disaster brings out the stupid in some people, and some people find humor in violence. I wonder when, or if, we will ever learn.

  3. "I was not aware that offering humanitarian aid was a political tool" I think Rush is a political tool. haha

    Well said, Doug, as always. Did you hear that the editor resigned her position? I know she apologized profusely, but must have realized how bad it was that such a horrid cartoon got through. I'd also be interested in hearing what happens with those cartoonists. Why on earth would they think that was even remotely funny?