In other words, Rush has always been a jerk—there's nothing new to see here! And I think Gawker probably gets at this point a little better than I did:
So here comes Rush Limbaugh—a media entity who has repeatedly, almost monthly, reveled in a transparent strategy of uttering whatever racist, sexist, homophobic slur comes to mind for the explicit purposes of riling his antagonists—to utter a sexist slur for the explicit purposes of riling his antagonists. And his antagonists got riled! This dynamic is very, very old. (And I have certainly fallen for it). It used to be a somewhat sloppy process. Limbaugh would say things, and maybe some people would notice and write an angry newspaper column. Over the years the calumnies would build up until Al Franken cataloged them in book form.I think that's right. I think Sandra Fluke was right to be very offended by Rush Limbaugh. It's the difference between the generalized bigotry of the term "feminazi" and a specific accusation leveled at a specific person.
Limbaugh claims that he does not hate women. But his critics know that he does. So when he lets slip a "slut," it can become valuable evidence in proving your case. ("He claims that he doesn't hate women, but look! He calls them sluts.") The trouble here is that Rush Limbaugh obviously and unambiguously hates women. His utterance of the word slut in the present context adds no new information about Limbaugh or his beliefs. Pre-"slut" and post-"slut" Limbaugh are identical in all respects.
But there's still an element of kabuki to the whole cycle of offense and umbrage, and, well, meh. Making a big deal about Rush won't make Georgetown University offer Sandra Fluke health insurance that covers contraceptives—I'm not sure it will even push the needle very far. And that's what the debate is supposed to be about.