Sluts and Guts

Did he do it for the money? Not wanting to slide into the gutter where Rush Limbaugh crouches quite comfortably, I will not accuse him of prostitution in apologizing to Sandra Fluke in order to, allegedly, keep his advertisers. But the pungent odor coming up from the grate does not smell like sincerity. His snarky web "apology" has more hubris than humility.

If there is a slut in L'affaire Limbaugh, it's not Sandra Fluke. Limbaugh has made his career pandering to some of the darkest corners of the American political psyche. He routinely uses the most vitriolic rhetoric as an insidious weapon in the extremist war on reason and simple justice. It's not funny, and it's no joke, despite his lame claim that he is simply trying to be humorous. How absurd!

Even as Limbaugh was demonstrating the most irresponsible form of free press, the bodies of American journalist Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik arrived in Paris. Both were killed in a bombardment of their location in Syria last week. Real journalists are putting their lives on the line to get the truth out in some of the world's most dangerous places. That's guts. Reporters and soldiers are giving their lives in the name of freedom while Limbaugh makes his money sitting comfortably behind his microphone maliciously attacking Americans for exercising that very freedom.

Speaking of guts, Georgetown President Jack DeGioia is one of the real heroes of this story. His statement defending his student's right to speak out on the contraception coverage issue, even though she is directly criticizing Georgetown's policy, took courage. As a Georgetown law school alumna, myself, I have first-hand experience with the university's thoughtful and vigorous promotion of free speech and climate for robust debate. I also know that Georgetown, like many universities including my own, has a built-in corps of critics who will leap to the opposition on just about any statement from the president, particularly when religious matters are involved.

Catholic college and university presidents walk an extremely fine line in the contemporary environment. We must vigorously uphold free speech and academic freedom even as we also must protect our religious identity and mission against the secular tide. As President DeGioia's statement makes so eloquently clear, we need not compromise freedom of speech even in times of disagreement -- or, perhaps, especially in times of disagreement. Uphold the faith, yes, but never, never oppress, humiliate, intimidate or deny the right of free expression.

That includes you, Rush. Your right to broadcast your views is clear. But have the guts to show some class. Stop pandering to the wingnuts, that only makes you a slut for hatred.