The war is between those who believe in the America of our founding fathers and those who believe traditional American values and beliefs are old-fashioned, unrealistic, and out of step with "today's world". They believe our culture is in need of a radical transformation.
Rush Limbaugh is a relentless, articulate, persuasive, and influential voice for traditional American values and beliefs. He is the inspiration and model for the cultural force that is conservative political talk radio. He was an inspiration for the creation of the Fox News Channel. He is a regular contributor to its programming. FNC's primary appeal is its traditional American worldview. FNC has considerably more viewers than all the other cable news channels combined. It's no wonder Rush has long been a target of those who want to dramatically change American culture.
Last week, Rush served up the perfect opportunity for his cultural opponents to attack. Rush loves to illustrate absurdity by being absurd. Rush believes it's absurd for the government to mandate that all health insurance plans in America provide free birth control pills for women. You all know the story. He compared the mandate and women who take advantage of it to prostitution and likened mandate advocate Sandra Fluke to a "slut" and "prostitute".
Most agree Rush accomplished his goal of being absurd. Many, including Rush, feel he went too far with his choice of labels for Sandra Fluke. Rush publicly apologized to Ms. Fluke. I don't want to defend Rush's illustration and choice of words or debate the sincerity of his apology or the propriety of the birth control pill mandate. I want to talk about the protests and threat to boycott Rush's advertisers that ensued.
Some of the protests were organic and sincere. Why wouldn't people be upset when they hear about Rush likening an attractive young single woman he doesn't know to a "slut" and "prostitute"? However, most people would not take the next step and demand that he be fired or taken off the air permanently and threaten to boycott his advertisers. Make no mistake, this level of protest was well planned and organized by Rush's opponents in the culture war. They want his voice silenced. They want him gone. They'll do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. Unfortunately, Rush gave them some wonderful tools.
The words "slut" and "prostitute" Rush attached to Sandra Fluke taken out of context by his culture war opponents made it easy to paint Rush as a despicable villain in e-mails, Facebook posts, and Tweets. Many of these digital arrows were aimed at Rush's advertisers and threatened a boycott of their products and services if they continued to be advertised on the Rush Limbaugh Show. This was no accident
Rush's opponents in the cultural war understood exactly what they were doing. They know most advertisers will do anything to avoid controversy. They knew Rush's words were all they needed to create a "viral" firestorm of protest on social media that would generate high-level news media attention and scare the hell out of Rush's advertisers. They recognized a prime opportunity to deal a lethal blow to Rush and his show. So far, it appears they've inflicted some significant pain on Rush with collateral damage on all talk radio and free speech.
Social media and the Internet are wonderful tools for spreading information and ideas. They're also great tools for intimidation, spreading misinformation, and making vocal well organized minorities look like majorities. Most people don't want to silence Rush Limbaugh or anyone else exercising his right to free speech. The vast majority of people aren't going to stop purchasing products and services they need and happily use because they're advertised on the Rush Limbaugh program, certainly not his listeners.
There is lots of research on boycotts like the one promoted by Rush's opponents in the culture war. They seldom, if ever, affect the sale of products and services because the boycott isn't about the advertiser and his products or services. If carried out, these boycotts actually punish the very people who are doing the boycotting if they are truly regular satisfied users of the products and services.
Sadly, Rush's advertisers have become pawns in