I recently wrote a column on how the West is curtailing free speech under blasphemy, hate speech, and anti-discrimination laws. As if on cue, lawyer Gloria Allred has called for the criminal prosecution of Rush Limbaugh for calling law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute.” I previously wrote that I believe Limbaugh’s comments were protected speech under the first amendment and constitute opinion for the purposes of any libel action. Such a prosecution would threaten core free speech principles and the law cited by Allred would appear not only inimical to free speech but overtly sexist.
In her press conference, Allred proclaimed “Mr. Limbaugh targeted his attack on a young law student who was simply exercised her free speech and her right to testify before congress on a very important issue to millions of American women and he vilified her. He defamed her and engaged in unwarranted, tasteless and exceptionally damaging attacks on her. He needs to face the consequences of his conduct in every way that is meaningful.” Thus, Allred insists, Limbaugh must be prosecuted to protect the free speech rights of Fluke. For most civil libertarians, that is rather counterintuitive.
In her letter to Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe, Allred speaks on behalf of the Women’s Equal Rights Legal Defense and Education Fund. On her website, Allred identifies herself as the “founder and president” of the organization. Allred wants an investigation under Section 836.04 of the Florida Statutes which allows for the criminal prosecution of anyone who “speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity.” While based on defamation, the law allows for a criminal charge of a misdemeanor of the first degree.
What is curious about Allred’s embracing of this law is that it is overtly sexist. The law suggests that a woman who is viewed as unchaste is so harmed that she constitutes a crime victim. Chastity is defined by Webster’s as “(a) : abstention from unlawful sexual intercourse; (b) : abstention from all sexual intercourse.” The law is based on the out-dated notion that a woman who has sex before marriage is damaged and subject to social stigma. To put it more colloquially, such a woman was viewed as a “slut or prostitute.” That is precisely the outrageous view voiced by Limbaugh in relation to Fluke and led to a worldwide condemnation. Now, Allred wants him prosecuted under a law that assumes that is based on the same assumption. The law was not designed to prevent women from being called sluts. Laws like Florida’s code provision were designed on the belief that a woman who is unchaste is a slut — and that “good” women should never be accused of sex before marriage. So Allred wants Limbaugh prosecuted for saying Fluke is a slut based on the law that effectively treats unchaste women as sluts. It does not protect men because an unchaste man was viewed under these dated laws as just a normal man. A man was not viewed as harmed or demeaned by being sexually active. Only a woman was harmed by the suggestion of sexual activities. Not also the law only protects women who are “falsely” accused of being unchaste. Thus if a woman has been sexually active before married, she would presumably not be protected under the law.
I have previously written against these archaic laws, which were passed with anti-fornication and anti-adultery laws. Even when anti-adultery laws did not limit themselves to women, it was women who were often targeted.
Using sexist laws to fight sexism is never a good idea. In this case, the prosecution suggested by Allred would not only reaffirm the very sexism at the core of Limbaugh’s comments but add an attack on free speech to magnify the harm.
72 thoughts on “Fighting Sexism With Sexism? Allred Calls For Limbaugh To Be Criminally Charged For His Attack On Fluke In The Name Of Free Speech”
First you have me rolling in laughter (note the FLA bag is rather slack).
And the gagging at the thought of people without health insurance, and thus no health care. When it all started, there were other alternatives.
Now that the employer paid system has spread I would suspect that PP is it.
I mean all routine care is not an ER covered tax supported care.
Guess will visit PP to give a donation. If I did for Obama then, …….!
But the one who said that it was a done issue……how has this happened.
Guess I’ll start reading the El Paso Times, just for old times sake.
Visited Juarez a few times. Such sweet girls, both working and USA ones having fun.
Blouise, I have read that it is the lowest. Many of the uninsured are undocumented and not eligible to receive medicaid. Planned Parenthood is literally their only source of healthcare.
Don’t know how Texas’ 1 in 4 women uninsured compares to other states. You can go to the PP website I listed above … I bet they have figures.
That bit about California (all the loose people) was funny and one I’d never heard before. As to Florida … well look at its shape then make up your own joke. I think it was Jon Stewart who called the Florida “the state always looking for a blow-job”.
David Taintor March 12, 2012, 4:25 PM 3279 39
Updated: 5:00 p.m. ET
Several newspapers are rejecting a “Doonesbury” comic strip running this week that lampoons Republican efforts to roll back female reproductive rights.
The first comic, created by Garry Trudeau, shows a young woman seeking an abortion. She is asked to sit in the “shaming room” and told that a “middle-aged, male state legislator” will be with her shortly. The strip specifically pokes fun at a Texas law that requires women to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion. The series runs throughout the week.
A number of newspapers — the syndicated comic appears in about 1,400 of them — are either not running the strip or moving it to the op-ed pages. Media blogger Jim Romenesko has rounded up the reasons, which include: “went over the line of good taste and humor” (Oregonian); “I am concerned about the graphic content” (Vacaville, CA Reporter); and “The Texas abortion cartoons venture too far for the comics pages” (The Press of Atlantic City).
A newspaper in Texas decided to run the series. The El Paso Times’ editor, Bob Moore, said “The ‘Doonesbury’ series on the new Texas law is, in the tradition of the strip, pointed and destined to stir discussion. That fits with the purpose of our opinion page. We expect our readers will engage in a discussion of the contents of the latest ‘Doonesbury’ installment, and we look forward to carrying parts of that discussion on our opinion pages and our digital platforms in the coming days.
And Trudeau stands by the strip. “To ignore it would have been comedy malpractice,” he told the Washington Post. It’s also apparently the first time Trudeau has tackled abortion. “Roe v. Wade was decided while I was still in school” he said. “Planned Parenthood was embraced by both parties. Contraception was on its way to being used by 99-percent of American women. I thought reproductive rights was a settled issue. Who knew we had turned into a nation of sluts?”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s office is not amused, calling the comic tasteless. “The decision to end a life is not funny,” Perry spokesperson Lucy Nashed told TPM. “The governor’s proud of his leadership on the sonogram law … and being a staunch defender of unborn life.”
See the comic strip here.
Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau, ab
Fox bias or Palin, not an either/or is synonymous.
Try this one instead, it’s from the beginning.
or is it. Rewind if needed. otherwise you’ll miss the fox intro.
was just mining utube for palin looking for SNL and found this new clip about Maher’s million to Obama-
Don’t know what’s worse: the Fox bias or her.
About your off-topic — but certainly true — comment that the U.S. had no business in Afghanistan because other empires and armies had come to grief there, I can only point to the early stages of America’s debacle in Vietnam, where the disastrous failure of France to impose it will on the Vietnamese — despite massive American financial and diplomatic support — had only recently occurred (in 1954). Replied the arrogant and ignorant Americans: “But we’re not the French.” American exceptionalism at work, then as now. We don’t repeat the history of others’ stupidity. We simply add more glaring and egregious examples of our own.
Many of us made statements like these a decade ago and received nothing but scornful indifference in return. America never learns. It just quits when its own stupidity becomes financially unsustainable — until it can conveniently forget and begin the whole bloody bungle all over again.
Blouise Thanks for the link, signed and shared.
AP foto (uncropped) shows child body burned using accelerant to destroy evidence (more likely for terror effect IMHO) in Kandahar civilian killings.
Witnesses say there were more than one gunman.
Anybody believe any troops will be taken home now?
Yes, of course. Getting old. That was Kerstin’s first. Got cored and five year followup. Damn C.
Ideal707 Cervical is from the papillomavirus
One in four. How does that place them nationally?
And for cervical. Is it mostly herpes related, or do they know?
If the theatre is crowded one can not yell Fire! This theatre is crowded with perverts who watch and listen to the Rushoxycottonmoran and when he called her a slut and a prostitute the crowd did not rush for the exits but rushed (no pun intended) for her photo and the opportunity to score. Therefore, no defense to libel action under the First Amendment or the Sixth Commandment. So, if she wants to sue him or shot him in the groin then she is protected if she doesnt kill him.
Was hoping you would explain why the young Christian part.
Are they selling JC or sex? Or?
An old joke from the sixties; California was populated by tilting the US and all loose people rolled in.
Got one for how FLA was populated?
Blouise, My 72 year old friend went yesterday and invited me to accompany her but I have a house guest. Hope to catch the next one. I am not a fan of twitter but got an alert to follow pp on twitter so I made an account. Texas is the absolute worst on healthcare for poor women.
forgot the link
People, people, I implore you! You’re looking at this the wrong way. How wonderful would it be if we could persuade Ms. Allred, Esq. to spend the foreseeable future litigating this mess against Limbaugh. We need to see how one goes about petitioning the Florida courts for a special prosecutor, or at the very least get her a part time job with the Broward County D.A. We need to think of a way to have these two ass-hats going after each other for the next 20 years so normal people don’t have to deal with them. Maybe they could build a little court house on one of the little used Florida Keys where they could battle it out like a retarded King Kong vs. Godzilla forever. Let’s make this happen! p.s. Thanks a lot Allred for forcing me into a position where I have to defend a f**k-stick like Limbaugh against your nonsense.
Just signed the PP letter to Perry. Are you going to be taking part in any of the planned demos? One in four Texan women is uninsured, and the state has the third-highest rate of cervical cancer in the U.S.
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