So, it must have been a million years ago, when I was fooling around with talk radio in Fort Wayne, an action-packed chapter of my life I already bored you with, when the wife of the station owner told me that she’d recently scored a new show that was going to be big. I should check it out, she said.
“His name is Rush Limbaugh,” she said. “He’s on his way up.”
She was certainly right about that, and as WGL was among the very first stations in the country to buy his show, I had the luxury of getting to know the host and his show before anyone had noticed or written about him. And I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I listened to him for 10 minutes and told someone, “This is a fat guy who cannot score with chicks.”
I hadn’t seen his picture, I swear. I could just tell. I’m witchy that way.
Anyway, soon he was well-established and very successful, and his various bits were familiar, one of which was the various songs he played to introduce certain “updates,” as he called them. The homeless update, the feminazi update, etc. For Carol Moseley Braun, he played the theme from “The Jeffersons.” Movin’ on up, to the east side, and so on. So I added “racist” to “fat guy who cannot score,” and I’ll stand by that. And while Rush Limbaugh is not the first troll that modern conservatism produced and certainly won’t be the last, he was one of the first I encountered as an adult. Alas, there have been so many more.
There’s an old internet saw that says you shouldn’t feed trolls. It’s certainly my instinct, but lots of people must be throwing them popcorn, because one of the truly horrifying things about the current era is how successful a troll can be. You can say any old stupid-ass thing, call people terrible names, repeat bullshit until you’re blue in the face, and you’ll get…a book contract, a cable-news gig, a sinecure of some sort. Ann Coulter, Dinesh D’Souza, Tomi Lahren — it’s a crowded business, but there’s always room, and a paycheck, for one more.
Of course I’m thinking now of Kevin Williamson and his fun hang-the-whores opinions, which finally cost him his new job.
Media, Right and Left Twitter – which is to say, the nucleus of Twitter itself – went a little nuts about it. Many dumb things were said. A few smart things were said. Hysteria was deployed, as was reason. In the end, I’m a walking shrug emoji; if you wanted the bigger paycheck and bigger platform and bigger profile a “mainstream” publication offers, perhaps you should be a little more mainstream, in the sense that you shouldn’t cavalierly call for the execution of a significant percentage of an entire gender, asshole.
Maybe we should stop rewarding trolls. Maybe that’s a good start. Maybe this is a bullshit justification:
Williamson uses colorful and sometimes rash language. He didn’t have to detail the grisly form of punishment he would inflict on women who decide to terminate their pregnancies. He chose to do so because he enjoys provoking a reaction. But The Atlantic knew that about him before it hired him.
Maybe “provoking a reaction” shouldn’t be an end in and of itself. Are we short of reactions these days? Do we really need more? I know, I know — reason and moderation and compromise are BOR-ing! and facts are for the Olds, man, but I’m thinking 30 years of letting trolls bait us into outrage hasn’t been productive. That’s one reason I find the Parkland kids so impressive. They just laugh in the faces of these people, laugh and then organize boycotts. More power to them.
History will not be kind to people like Rush Limbaugh. I suspect he doesn’t give a shit about that down in his Palm Beach mansion, his wife-of-the-moment off doing Pilates somewhere else and crossing big red X’s through dates counting down to key milestones in the pre-nup. But it’s all I have at the moment.
A long read, but worthwhile, on how police and prosecutors built their case against Larry Nassar. Females all around, for the most part. I liked this passage, and forgive me breaking my three-paragraph rule:
Munford started the interview asking what Nassar had changed about treating patients since 2014, when Amanda Thomashow told police and an MSU Title IX investigator that Nassar had sexually assaulted her. The two investigations ended without repercussions, although new protocols were put in place for Nassar when treating patients at MSU.
Nassar said he’d tried to adapt his techniques, then asked his own question.
“Has there been another complaint?” he said. “I’m just, like, confused right now.”
Munford redirected him back to talking about his changes since 2014, hoping to learn if the description of anything he had stopped doing matched what Denhollander experienced 16 years earlier.
When Nassar began making excuses about why he wasn’t following the new protocols, Munford later said, she knew he was being intentionally inappropriate with patients.
“I lecture on this,” Nassar told her. “That’s the thing that’s frustrating. It’s so, you know, the sacrotuberous ligament, it runs from the pubic symphysis, the falciform process, it runs, it’s like the pelvic floor.”
“OK,” Munford said.
“People don’t understand this stuff,” Nassar told her. “So you’re really coming in, the way I describe it, you know, even in some of the videos is, is that if you go towards the labia and go lateral, so you’re going in and apart. And that, there’s muscles that attach to the ligament. And so as you’re treating that, you can feel the release. And that’s, like, a great teaching thing, too.”
The spiral into technical terms in Munford’s interview illustrated how Nassar evaded prosecution for so long. His medical explanations convinced Meridian Township police not to pursue charges in a 2004 investigation. Medical information also was part of the unsuccessful 2014 case.
He couldn’t explain why he had visible erections while this was going on, however. But “sacrotuberous ligament” — that was enough.
OK, weekend dead ahead. Enjoy yours.