The National Organization for Women has sent out another "Flush Rush" letter this fall, signed by NOW president Kim Gandy herself, and something about it doesn't ring quite true. For one thing, I couldn't find any mention of this ongoing campaign on the NOW Web site. Then again, it may be that saner heads in the organization want to disavow any knowledge of the action. Consider the following:

"We started out this campaign determined to convince the Florida Citrus Commission to stop using Rush Limbaugh to sell orange juice. Can you believe that Florida spent $1 million of state and federal tax dollars to underwrite his hate-filled show?

"They did but we made them think twice about it! Thanks to NOW activists all over the country, Rush Limbaugh got the squeeze the Commission refused to renew his contract."

But on the next page:

"We have to pay for all the organizing we do. But Limbaugh's advertisers pay for his right-wing political activities, providing him with free access to millions of listeners. With your help, we can begin to level the playing field."

(Emphasis, via underscore, is as in the original.)

So NOW can talk an advertiser into not buying ad space from Limbaugh, but they can't talk an advertiser into buying ad space from NOW?

Whether or not you believe in that "liberal media" business while it's an article of faith on the right, I remain mostly unpersuaded the last thing you should want is for an activist group of any persuasion to be able to demand a change, level or otherwise, in the playing field. And that's precisely what NOW wants: government action to require "equal time" to counteract the presumed evils of Rush. They won't get it, of course. The FCC has been loath to regulate program content, except with regard to the murky areas of "indecency" and "obscenity", and is not likely to change its tune any time soon. And I tend to think that NOW would find more takers for its own message if said message didn't seem to concentrate so heavily on, oh, let's say, making sure a high-school sophomore can get an abortion without so much as a note from the school nurse.

The really disturbing aspect of all this, though, is the apparent (and apparently deliberate) descent of feminism from a movement with some worthwhile egalitarian tendencies into Yet Another Special Interest. Camille Paglia, who got a copy of basically the same screed last year over Patricia Ireland's signature, accused NOW of "shamelessly whoring for the Democratic Party". Paglia, as it happens, is a Limbaugh fan, which I am not Rush, if you ask me, is far more partisan than populist but it occurs to me that if we've got Democratic whores and Republican shills, well, there's your level playing field right there.

The Vent

1 November 2001

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 Copyright © 2001 by Charles G. Hill