Technically, that title should probably say lessons from Mount Rush Less, because our favorite big-mouth pundit Rush Limbaugh likely could do with a plug for his pie hole if recent commentary around Sandra Fluke is any indication.
I’ve always thought the diversity conversation and any progress that might result from it is often stalled because of our society — the global society’s — increasing tendency to treat apologies like some kind of get out of jail free card.
I’m not certain if old Rushie actually acknowledged that he’d done anything wrong by calling Fluke a slut, among other things — there’s only so much idiotic news one can take without gagging — he didn’t even want to acknowledge that his advertisers were pulling away from him. Even if he did say he did something wrong, it wouldn’t mean much. Anything even vaguely apologetic that came from Rush’s mouth only came after his advertisers started pulling out right and left, which seems par for the course these days.
The scenario usually goes something like this: A high-profile person or organization puts their foot in their mouth. Negative media fervor ensues along with repercussions that are potentially damaging to the big mouth in question. That entity offers a brief apology via social media, and with more grumbles the initial hullabaloo will die down.
But just as these apologies often show a marked lack of sincerity, there’s seldom any real accountability for the perpetrator. Few will point out that these adults knew exactly what they were saying at the time they said it, and even fewer will point out that offering some weak, lip-service apology only after the public has called you out on your ridiculousness is weak, dishonest and phony!
Personally, I like it when people come out and let their true feelings spill from their lips like paint from a kicked bucket. If you’re standing too close you may lose a pair of shoes, but there are often lessons to be learned in everything.
I am proud to promote diversity of thought in my work, even when someone’s ideas or opinions make me or someone else uncomfortable. I would always rather know than not know who people really are and what they think and feel about the issues of the day, even if something seems crazy.
However, when someone makes racist, sexist or homophobic comments, an apology shouldn’t wipe the slate clean. That’s why I’m glad Rush Limbaugh lost advertisers. I also heard a few radio stations were considering dropping his show. It’s better than the usual slap on the wrist we’ve taken to giving leaders with big mouths and eyebrow-raising opinions.