AI: Two Wrongs?

AI: Two Wrongs?

By now, you all have probably heard the crazy shit that recently spewed out of conservative talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh's face. Limbaugh came under fire for calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” for testifying on Capitol Hill about contraception coverage. The outburst resulted in a backlash against “The Rush Limbaugh Show” in which companies began pulling ads from the popular program.

Now, in an apparent attempt to deflect attention from one of their most visible proponents, members of the conservative right in the U.S. are pointing a finger at comedian Bill Maher for "slanderous" terms he used to describe Sara Palin, suggesting he is just as despicable as Limbaugh.

http://youtu.be/ePdjHyweQHw

So let's use this story as our discussion point today.

Thoughts? Is this yet another comment on the sad state of American politics? Does the target of such harsh terms make a difference? Is there a difference between the two men? What free speech aspects are at play? Anything else?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.

Avatar of Sam Ogden
Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

67 Comments

  1. Avatar of cthandhs

    No real diffence to me, both are aging white dudes who have used their priveledge to attack women on the basis of their gender for speaking out about their beliefs. Bill Mahr dosn't have a great track record on his speech about women, and if his sponsors pull their funding, that's their right to do so. Frankly, I like seeking people called out on this kind of behavior, either side of the aisle. Don't like Palin, ok, neither do I. That dosn't mean it's ok to silence her based on her gender. No one talks about the male GOP crotches that way.

    • Avatar of deviladv

      Actually I think this is a false equivalency.  This is a typical tactic by pundits and politicians to try to deflect and distract.  Improbable Joe said it best below but these pundits calling out Bill Maher for his treatment are like  playing basketball and hitting another player with a chair and then trying to defend yourself with the fact that other players commit fouls.  It's not the same thing.
      Bill needs to cut out the misogynist language to strengthen his position.  Calling Sarah Palin dumb and making fun of her dumbness is quite funny, but calling her a cunt doesn't score you any real humor points.

  2. Avatar of Improbable Joe

    Let's answer the easiest question first: there's no free speech issue at play here, at all. "Freedom of speech" doesn't mean "freedom from criticism" or "freedom from consequences."
     
    What Maher did and what Limbaugh did and is still doing are two completely different things. No one is defending Maher's use of gender-based insults, and in fact he's called out for it on a pretty regular basis by people who actually care about sexism. But when Maher called Sarah Palin a "cunt" he did so in the context of a pretty fair, accurate, and negative assessment of a public figure. He's a bit of a sexist asshole, but it doesn't invalidate the point he was making. Limbaugh spent days on end spreading defamatory lies about a woman's sex life for the "crime" of speaking after Republican men let her know that they didn't want her talking. Limbaugh had no valid point to make, and was simply sending the message that women who disagree with him publically can expect to be slut-shamed with the goal of keeping other women from speaking up in the future. 
    Sort of the difference between me calling Rush Limbaugh a "fat fag fuckface" and him responding by calling me a rapist for a week, making up more and more complex stories about my nonexistent crimes and giving out my home address. On the one hand, I shouldn't use a homophobic slur. On the other hand, it is pretty obvious how much futher and more wrong the other hand is. 
     

    • Avatar of DiscordianStooge

      I would add that Maher insulted one woman. Limbaugh's attacks may have been aimed at Fluke, but they were really about any woman who wants control of her body.
       
      And yes, Maher does get called out for his sexist language.

    • Avatar of scribe999

      Yeah, I was about to say the specific differences are a) Limbaugh actually slandered Sandra Fluke because he, by every measure, misrepresented the facts of her testimony, not just insulted her with his misogynistic language. After all, if sexism was the only bar to sustaining a boycott on Rush, then he should have been off the air after he said the First Lady:

      ..does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you.

      (if sexism…and racism…were all it took, shouldn't Rush have been boycotted after saying what he said about Michelle Obama above, and also calling her "uppity" after a NASCAR event?)

      b) As Bill Maher himself pointed out, Maher doesn't have "sponsors"…he works on pay cable. c) Bill Maher isn't consulted on policy issues by the Speaker of the House.

      This is not to say I defend all the sexist stuff Bill Maher has said himself over the years. I just think this reaction against Limbaugh is a self-inflicted wound in compounding many years by saying racist and sexist things with the outright lies about the specific situation. Then he doubled down on his lie during his "apology", and then attempted to deflect blame onto others.

  3. Avatar of mikerattlesnake

    If they want to target Maher, they can damn well go for it. I'm not gonna waste a minute of my time defending that ignorant, misogynistic goon.

  4. Avatar of krelnik

    The first person I saw to point this out was Kirsten Powers in the Daily Beast, and she makes the point (and gives examples) that Maher is not the only one on the left side of the aisle who is guilty of this. I think she's got a good point, we should be equally critical of anyone who pulls this crap.
    Powers, by the way, is a Democrat who served in the Clinton Administration.

    • Avatar of mikerattlesnake

      The democrats are bullshit anyways. They are in no way "the left" and there needs to be some distinction made at some point. Some of the most violent crackdowns against nonviolent protesters over the last few months have been by democrat politicians. Throw them all out. Not being insanely backwards and conservative is not enough to qualify as "progressive".

  5. Avatar of jynnan_tonnyx

    If the point of this whole gambit is to point out that the Left has its fair share of problems with sexism, I'm pretty sure any feminist could have told you that.
    But if conservatives want anyone to think they're actually concerned about misogyny in the public discourse, they're going to have to occassionally appear to give a shit at times when they AREN'T facing similar accusations of their own.  Otherwise it's a pretty transparent dodge, regardless of the valid point that might be (accidentally?) buried at the core.  Made all the more obvious by the number of rank-and-file conservatives who have said, in essence, that Limbaugh's language was crude, but his point was legitimate.  Anyone who fails to recognize the misogyny in criticizing a woman for wanting her health needs to be covered by insurance she has already purchased is missing the point, and shouldn't be pointing fingers at others.
     
    Also, while I don't want to defend or excuse Maher's occassional misogynyistic comments, I don't think it's entirely irrelevant that he has not, to my knowledge, made such comments alongside insults and lies about private citizens in the course of undermining pro-woman legislation.  This was the context of Limbaugh's comments.

  6. Avatar of Armenda Barnes

    Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh are completely different.  Rush Limbaugh said that Sandra Fluke was a slut and a prostitute for doing something that most women do, and attacks women simply because they are women, rather than for anything in particular they do.  Bill Maher attacks women like Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, and Michelle Bachman for being stupid women and saying stupid stuff that is unique to them, not because they are women.  He also attacks stupid male politicians and public figures with equally vulgar slurs, and regularly has intelligent female guests on his panel.
    Not to mention, Rush Limbaugh is more than an entertainer, he is considered the face of the Republican party by many.  He was seriously considered ot be the chairman of the Republican National Committee a few years ago.

  7. Avatar of Improbable Joe

    Crap, I lost a comment… let me try again, shorter. 
     
    Bill Maher is a sexist asshole. Any discussion of the differences between Maher and Rush that doesn't acknowledge that fact lets everyone know that you don't care about sexism because sexism is wrong and harmful, you only care because it is a convenient club to use against your political opponents. It is clear that this is true of Maher's critics from the Right, and it would therefore be true of Maher's defenders from the left. 

  8. Avatar of violets

    This seems like some form of a "tu quoque" argument to me. Rather than addressing the valid and reasoned criticisms of the content of Limbaugh's statements, defenders of his are saying "well, this prominent liberal has said sexist stuff too!" Um, yes … I have many problems with Bill Maher's attitudes towards women and certain other things. I don't watch his show or support him. That is entirely irrelevant to the ways in which Limbaugh's statements were not only misogynist but also contained factual inaccuracies and misleading statements which have been pointed out repeatedly. Bill Maher's insults do not erase or condone Limbaugh's insults, they are a separate issue to be addressed separately.

  9. Avatar of TheGripester

    The problem with the Maher=Limbaugh argument is that Palin ≠ Fluke. Palin is a public figure who openly lied, drummed up hateful comments against people, and even failed to comment or correct crowds at her rallies when they yelled racist or violent comments. For a comedian to show disrespect is only natural. Fluke, on the other hand, is a private citizen, whose only comments have been to testify on behalf of young women's medical needs. She's attacked no one, kept her discourse civil and dignified, and refused to get pulled into political accusations. Her very ordinariness means that Limbaugh's attack becomes a symbolic attack upon the sex.
     
    Nothing Maher could ever say would silence Palin, and conservatives should stop pretending this. However, a private citizen of meeker character might easily have dropped out of sight after such attacks as Limbaugh's. It is to Fluke's credit that she has stayed active and visible in promoting the cause of reasonable access to women's health care.
     
    So do you get it, Limbaugh defenders? Personal attacks on political figures, though often distasteful, are a part of the public discourse. Attacks on private citizens whose only crime is to testify is bullying, shaming, and attempts to silence.

  10. Avatar of criticaldragon1177

    Sam Ogden,
    Well both Rush Limbough and Bill Mahar are jerks and both have some rather insane views.  Isn't Bill Mahar sort of a Germ Theory denalist? 
    Germ Theory Denalism
    More medical conspiracy from Bill Maher (warning: has some foul language)

  11. Avatar of Konradius

    One of the biggest differences between Bill Maher and Rush Limbough is that BM may be sexist, but knows misogyny is bad and opposes the slew of anti women bills quite vehemently.

    RL knows he's misogynistic and revels in it. He's also more fascistic than Goebbels.
    BM simply doesn't get what's bad about the language he uses. That makes him an idiot, though unfortunately not an uncommon one. On the whole he's still an ally, even if your only cause is feminism.
    If you fall for this "well the other side does it too" crap. I think you're actually quite a bigger idiot than Bill Maher is.
    Well, at least as long as BM keeps his mouth shut about medicine and refers to actual experts on that…
     

  12. Avatar of jalyth

    Maher says in that politico article that he stopped using the c-word. Hope that is true, as it has become a distraction for him in getting his message out. THIS is a difference between them. 
    Would we be talking about Maher if he hadn't said something dumb about not attacking Limbaugh? He can be so very very clueless sometimes. I don't watch him anymore. 

  13. Avatar of Rebel 16

    Bill Maher is more equivalent to Bill O'Reilly than to Limbaugh. I think it says a lot in the left's favor that they really have no equivalent of Limbaugh. I also think it's a pretty damning indictment of the right that they have no equivalent of Jon Stewart or Rachel Maddow.

  14. Avatar of hardindr

    It's revolting to see people make excuses for Maher's language.  No, he didn't go on a 3 day rant against an relative unknown, but what he said about Sarah Palin was awful.  It's a tribute to the tribalistic nature of US politics that liberals scream "false equivalence" every time a male pundit they like says something misognynistic, as if it makes a difference.

    • Avatar of TheGripester

      I don't know what "liberals" you're talking about. Many on the left deplored Maher's more explicit comments about Palin, including me. The ones who are drawing the equivalence are those who are trying to say that people shouldn't get mad at Limbaugh, because hey, Maher said bad things and you didn't complain. Well, we did, so pull the other one, it's got bells on it. Any slam on any woman strictly on the issue of her sexuality is wrong.
       
      However, it is absolutely a false equivalence to say that the tackiness of a couple of tasteless jokes by a comedian about a public figure is equal to the severity of a repeated, systematic attack by a political lightning rod upon a private citizen merely for opening their mouth. Nice try saying it's not, and trying to build on that to say that somehow that means those who care about women's rights are hypocrites. Wrong rock to crawl under, there are others you might try.

      • Avatar of hardindr

        If you are on the internet at all, or reading liberal blogs, you will see countless liberals claim false equivalence about comparing Maher's and Limbaugh's conduct (see here http://bit.ly/FOao2F).  No, what Maher did wasn't the same thing as what Limbaugh did, but it was awful.  I used to listen to Limbaugh a lot many years ago (don't listen very much now, and I'm not a conservative), and one of his favorite defenses when he said something disgusting was that "well, I'm just an entertainer" (Sean Hannity likes to say the same thing).  I think Maher is defending Limbaugh because he doesn't want other people to try to hold him accountable for the things he has said, or might say.  I don't agree to what happened to Maher with his "Politically Incorrect" show on ABC, I don't think he said anything wrong (see here for more http://www.dailyhowler.com/h092201_1.shtml http://www.dailyhowler.com/h092901_1.shtml ), so maybe that also colors his reaction.

  15. Avatar of Dan

    It's also worth considering the difference between a standup act and a nationally syndicated talk show with millions of listeners. I'm not going to defend Maher's use of language, but I do agree with his point that a standup show in a club or theatre really is the last bastion of public free speech (after all, everyone there has paid to hear you talk, presumably because they know what to expect). And as he really did lose his job after his famous 9/11 comment, I can see why he might be a little more sypathetic on this aspect of the case.

    I also think that public figures are fair game in a way unknown private citizens are not. Assuming Fluke remains in public memory, it will only be for this incident and nothing else (unless she goes on to make a living in punditry or talk show spots). This is not the case for Sarah Palin or Christene O'Donnell. Furthermore the suggestion that a candidate's kid's are off the table is disingenous at best, considering how politicians (especially Palin), use their kids politically <i>all the time</i>.

    • Avatar of Dan

      kids! s'what I get for writing anything before noon.

  16. Avatar of BrieCS

    I am really bothered by the "well yeah, Maher is misogynistic but he was only mean to these specific stupid women". It doesn't matter whether it was to one specific person or to the female populace. It doesn't matter if they did something he disagreed with, since that doesn't make it any different from Rush thinking that Fluke has done something he disagreed with. I think that what Rush did was HORRIBLE, appalling, and completely revolting. I have never liked him, but this just piled on the crap.
    What pisses me off is seeing so many people just leaping to defend Maher. Just because he only targets specific women, and he targets them because they're on the opposing side, doesn't make his misogynistic terms any worse. Please tell me how it is any differerent than someone attacking black politicians on the other side and using racial slurs, but people saying that's okay because he just doesn't like their stance on the issues.
    They are BOTH wrong, and I don't think either one excuses the other. I just really feel like some of you need to look at what you're saying. I have seen a lot of talk about how people need to be aware of their privilege and how people's arguments have less weight when it's full of strawmen and ad hominem. I don't like hearing "well he had a fair, accurate assessment" when the issue is that he still called a woman a "cunt" not because he didn't like her political stance, but because she is a WOMAN. For me, that invalidates his argument. If he can't put forth a fair, accurate assessment without calling people cunts, it's no different than someone trying to argue against Obama's politics while peppering their language with racial slurs.
    I am sure someone is going to happily tear this apart, but that's just the way I see it.

    • Avatar of kagehi

      I am pretty sure no one is *actually* defending Bill, in anything like the sense you seem to imply. Its more of an argument like, "Why would anyone in their right mind claim that Castro is just as bad as Pol Pot was?" And, it is a valid point, given that the morons making the comparison want us to all nod and say, "Ah, yeah, you are completely right, and its totally true that they either both should get to say anything they damn well please, or both lose supporters."
      To be frank, Maher should lose, at the very least, advertisers from pretty much *anyone* that bothers with real medicine. Maybe he should lose a few tied to women's issues too, but you have got to be out of your mind to claim that the lying sack of feces that is Rush Limbaugh shouldn't have had this coming decades ago, not just now that he picked an issue that 51% of the country (the percentage of women there are) should care about, in defense of a stance taken by less than 10% of the country (except maybe in some backward places like Alabama where its probably more like 54% (assuming the same number think birth control is evil as think that Obama is actually Muslim…).
      What is going on here is not defense of Maher, its denial of the insane attempt at equivalence.

      • Avatar of Dan

        Plus Maher is savvy enough after the 9/11 incident to make sure his show is not dependent on advertising revenue. He explicitly states this in the most recent episode while criticising Limbaugh.

    • Avatar of Improbable Joe

      I think most of the comments run along the lines of  "well yeah, Maher is misogynistic, AND he was mean to these specific stupid women, BUT Rush Limbaugh is a pro while Maher is a rank amateur."
      Not an apology for Maher, but a recognition that the comparison between Maher and Limbaugh is unreasonable. 

  17. Avatar of Madfishmonger

    Canada's now setting up for an abortion debate, and not at all to distract from the rampant corruption our current government is guilty of, so I am sure we'll be hearing all kinds of retarded misogynist bullshit from our political "leaders" soon.

  18. Avatar of Boomer

    As someone else already noted, the comparisons in the media between Limbaugh and Maher began with an article on The Daily Beast posted by Clinton administration Democrat Kirsten Powers (at least that's where I first read about them). I believe her piece wasn't written to excuse Limbaugh, but to point out the hypocrisy of those on the left who condemn Limbaugh while at best pooh-poohing, at worst ignoring/excusing, Maher (and Matherws, Olbermann, Schultz, Tiabbi, et al). Pretty much the same can be said of all the similar pieces I've read from right-leaning journalists. I haven't read of any mainstream right-wing journalists or politicians DEFENDING Limbaugh's comments about Sandra Fluke.
    And the suggestions by some that Sandra Fluke deserves some kind of special protection from misogynist ridicule because she's a 'private' citizen (which serve to imply that Sarah Palin somehow DESERVES it because she is not) are simply ridiculous. First, NO WOMAN deserves a misogynist attack. Second, here's a newsflash: Sarah Palin is ALSO a 'private citizen.' Palin opened herself to public scrutiny and commentary by bloviating on the national political stage. Please tell me what's different about Sandra Fluke?
    While characterizations by some on the right that Ms. Fluke is a Democratic ringer may be overblown, she isn't exactly a political wallflower either. She also happens to be represented by SKDKnickerbocker, a PR agency whose managing director is former Obama White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, so there may very well be some flames to accompany the smoke.
    Further, this entire manufactured controversy–the one suggesting republicans are engaged in a 'war on women'– has served as extroadinary camouflage for Fluke's weak arguments. Setting aside the hyperbole regarding costs, her entire premise is that reproductive freedom requires free birth control. If that's true, then the government should be subsidizing kosher foods (religious freedom), free guns (right to bear arms) and free computers and internet access (free speech).
    What's truly sad in this tawdry episode is this: All of the silly arguments and rationalizations used to deny equivalence between Limbaugh's and Maher's sexism serve to highlight the fact that pretty much all casualties are acceptable when it comes to partisan warfare.

    • Avatar of catgrin

      In response to your claim that the 'war on women' is a "manufactured controversy", I'll let Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Ca) take the floor as she did back in February of last year in defense of Planned Parenthood. She's just one of our State Representatives who told personal stories either about themselves, friends or family members in an effort to block, or at minimum alter, new laws against women's health rights last year.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz5DZJgclKQ
      Just so you're crystal clear on the not-so-imaginary quality of what's going on, I'm also providing you with a link to a chart that shows the dramatic jump in new abortion laws passed in 2011 – 80 in total. That doubles the record set in 2005 (34), and is triple the number of new laws set in 2010 (23). The reality is that in several states in our great Union, we are currently closer to 1972 than 2012.
      http://thinkprogress.org/health/2011/07/13/267880/162-number-of-new-anti-abortion-provisions-in-the-states/

      I'll let someone else respond to the rest.

      • Avatar of Boomer

         
        Catgrin, portraying those who disagree with the idea that reproductive freedom hinges on the availability of 'free' contraception–as well as those who object to abortion on religious or other moral grounds–as engaged in a 'war on women' is ad hominem.
         
        I strongly oppose the idea that government should have any hand in health care decisions; they should be strictly between patient and doctor. But I also understand my opinion is in the minority, and these kinds of debates will become more and more common as people demand more 'free' healthcare (which really means taxpayer-funded). Demonizing the opposition may be a fine way to fire up the political base, but as we've seen in the past couple of years, it's not really very effective for getting anything done.
         
        The reality is we live in a democracy. If we want the government (taxpayers) to provide healthcare for everyone, then EVERYONE has a right to be involved in lawmaking that regulates the delivery of healthcare.
         
        Be careful what you wish for…

        • Avatar of sallystrange

          1. We're not talking about "free" anything here. We're talking about getting access to a service which is already paid for by women, who have paid into health insurance packages either directly, or through tuition, or as part of their wages through the compensation provided to them by their employer in return for their labor. So, no dice on the "free" thing, that's a complete lie.
          2. Individuals have consciences. Institutions don't. If an institution is going to offer health insurance packages to its employees or customers, it must do so in accordance with the laws of the land. Just like a religious objection to pasteurization doesn't exempt a Catholic-owned restaurant from following health regulations regarding the preparation and serving of food, a religious objection to blood transfusions, psychiatric medication, or contraception does not exempt a business owned by Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists, or Catholics, respectively, from following regulations governing the provision of health care. Since these institutions always have the option of not providing health insurance at all but rather raising wages/lowering tuition to enable their employees and/or students to buy it on their own, nobody is actually being "forced" to do anything against their own conscience, even granting that institutions have a conscience to violate.
          Frankly it seems like the Catholic Church is just not cut out to operate any secular businesses in the real world. They are incapable of serving the entire public without trying to penalize non-Catholics for not following Catholic rules? Then maybe they should get out of the business of running hospitals and schools and just stick to running churches and monasteries, which already have a religious exemption for health care regulations.

        • Avatar of marilove

          The reality is that you have actually don't understand this issue at all.  Not even a little bit.  Typical.

    • Avatar of TheGripester

      Hey Boomer, did you think you could just come to this site and spew misrepresentations, half-truths, and innuendo here, and not get away with it? Nobody's used the words "special protection" except you. In a free society, anyone may use any language they want in order to express anything. What is it about the fact that you can't seem to pin this one on liberals that makes you froth so much? Is it that you know in your heart of hearts that Limbaugh's ferocity and aggression, in which he requested that a young woman sexually humiliate herself for his personal tittilation, makes Maher's offhand sexism look like an episode of Romper Room?
       
      There's a difference between a neighbor who tosses a piece of litter on your lawn, and another neighbor who drunkenly dumps a load of manure in your driveway, then laughs about it and pretends their sorry. Yes, they are both S.O.B's. But what kind of S.O.B.'s are they? That is for American society to judge, not you personally to pronounce for all time.
       
      Ooh, and try telling us that a politician is a private citizen. Sorry, my cat is laughing, and he can barely read. Go read a book on basic civics – a politician is a public policy-maker and as such cannot sue for slander when jokes are made about them. Their families are just barely private citizens, unless in any way they are exposed to the cameras by the politician. Nice try about pretending that Fluke's need to have some sort of representation now that she's been dragged into the spotlight is some sort of indication that she was a big policy wonk all along. Fail. Does this mean that anyone who expresses any opinion publicly is fair game? Can we quote you on that? Is it okay to speculate about the sex lives of your family and friends now?
       
      And as for your claim that Fluke wants "free birth control," that is a lie that you could drive a pharmaceutical truck through. She simply wants the money that she and her classmates pay for insurance, or that is paid for them through financial assistance, to be used for simple sexual health. That's it. So much for the rest of your rant. Maybe now you can tell us that Fluke wants more pills than usual, because she of all that sex she's supposed to be having. Nice try. No, my error, it was just a try. Not nice at all. Find a site where people don't think next time you get the urge to share.

      • Avatar of Boomer

         

        Hey Boomer, did you think you could just come to this site and spew misrepresentations, half-truths, and innuendo here, and not get away with it?

         
        No, I thought I could come and express an opinion. I certainly didn't expect everyone to agree with it… Apparently I was right. ;)
         

        What is it about the fact that you can't seem to pin this one on liberals that makes you froth so much?

         
        What exactly is it you think I am trying to 'pin on' liberals? Paranoid much?
         

        Is it that you know in your heart of hearts that Limbaugh's ferocity and aggression, in which he requested that a young woman sexually humiliate herself for his personal tittilation, makes Maher's offhand sexism look like an episode of Romper Room?

          
        Did you read Kirsten Power's article on The Daily Beast? It's not just Maher, and I would hardly characterize any brand of misogyny as 'romper room,' unless I were keen to rationalize. And given Limbaugh's age and penchant for powerful medications, I doubt he could be sexually tittilated by much of anything. Also did you notice what happened there? Limbaugh's sexism is deliberate; Maher's is offhand. That's a powerful gift of clairvoyance you have there!
         

        That is for American society to judge, not you personally to pronounce for all time.

         
        I guess one is not part of "American society" unless one agrees with TheGripester…
            

        Ooh, and try telling us that a politician is a private citizen. Sorry, my cat is laughing, and he can barely read. Go read a book on basic civics – a politician is a public policy-maker and as such cannot sue for slander when jokes are made about them.

         
        Perhaps when your cat is done giggling it can do some Googling for you: NO ONE can sue for defamation if what was said or written wasn't demonstrably false. And even politicans have the right to sue for defamation if the speaker or writer is wilfully lying.
         
        Be that as it may, you are applying a legal standard to a moral argument. Is what Limbaugh did morally reprehensible? Of course. Was it illegal? Pockets don't get much deeper, so if hecan be sued I'm sure he will be. Whether or not he gets dragged into court, however, what Limbaugh did is detestable. Likewise, the fact it was clearly LEGALLY permissible for Maher et al to misogynistically deride female public figures does not make it less MORALLY reprehensible.
         

        Find a site where people don't think next time you get the urge to share.

          
        Got it; you want to live here with only like-minded people (and your barely-literate, sarcastic cat), cozy in your little echo chamber. Liberal GOOD… good… goo… Conservative BAD…bad…baa…

        • Avatar of sallystrange

          That "echo-chamber" remark is so trite. Yeah, this is a feminist and skeptical site. The folks who read and comment here tend to agree that sexism is bad and so is uncritical thinking. The conservative opposition to "ObamaCare", AKA the federal version of Mitt Romney's moderate Republican health care reform plan, certainly falls under the rubric of uncritical thinking.

        • Avatar of sallystrange

          I notice that you fail to address the fact that claiming that Fluke was after "free birth control" is an out-and-out lie. I mean, it is simply untrue. So spill the beans: who told you that? Did you investigate the truth of that claim? Did you decide to spread the lie anyway, despite knowing it was untrue? Or did you just take someone's word for it without investigating?
           
          In other words, are you a liar or a sucker?

  19. Avatar of catgrin

    What I found interesting, was that in the interview, Cheri Jacobus (Republican Strategist), said the following, "When you're making fun of a candidate's children, when you're making fun of someone's religion to the point of being just downright nasty, and when you're calling women names that no woman should be called, you've crossed the line."

    Notice that the only statement that didn't have the words "making fun" in front of it was the one referring to Maher calling Palin a bad name in the course of a joke. Jacobus is trying to drive home the point that the GOP agrees that it's just awful when women are called bad names! Unfortunately, what she's succeeding in doing is driving home the point that Maher IS a political comic – and that even the GOP knows it.

    Notice that also, it's "a candidate's" children, it's "someone's" religion and it's WOMEN being called names! 
    (Clearly this statement was written by a Republican Strategist!)
    In Limbaugh's case, his listeners take what he says as truth, not humor. 

    He didn't attack a professional politician. He attacked a college student, on false grounds, on multiple occasions – not just calling her a "bad name" but attacking her morality, and that of her friends. It was, in fact, Limbaugh who verbally attacked women (note the plural) as a group in what he said. He did so with the full expectation that he would be nationally ruining an innocent person's reputation (a law student, no less!), and he wasn't making a joke, cruel or otherwise. He just felt like he could do it. So he did.

    I do agree that Maher oversteps his bounds at times, and I think that weakens his overall appeal. I don't watch him. I'm not really offended by bad words, but calling someone a name purely for audience reaction is a cheap gag, and I like my humor better written. So, if Maher's interest is to attract an intelligent voting audience as well as get laughs, he's losing some of us, just because we can do without the venom – we get enough of that when we actually watch the news.

  20. Avatar of GeekGirlsRule

    Several points:
    A. An awful lot of liberals DID call out Maher for using sexist language about Palin, O'Donnell, et al.  Pandagon, Feministe, Pam's House Blend to name three off the top of my head. 
    B. Maher didn't lose sponsors, because as other people pointed out, he's on HBO and doesn't really have those.
    C.  While we can decry the choice of language ("stupid twat") for it's gendered insults, honestly he really could have just called her a stupid asshole and not gone there.  The base fact is, Palin is about as sharp as a sack of wet mice, regardless of gender.  Sandra Fluke is NOT a prostitute, nor did she say anything about wanting  taxpayers to pay for her having sex.  I don't know if you know this, but if you get health insurance through your university, YOU PAY FOR IT, whether it's mandatory student health fees or the actual insurance offered to most grad students.  She just wanted a service SHE WAS PAYING FOR TO PROVIDE FOR HER NEEDS and those of other women.  
    Shorter C:  Maher used reprehensible language (for which he was called out), but didn't lie.  Rush Limbaugh used reprehensible language, and did lie. 
     

  21. Avatar of Boomer

    GeekGirlsRule said:

    She just wanted a service SHE WAS PAYING FOR TO PROVIDE FOR HER NEEDS and those of other women.

     
    First, the cost of university health insurance is paid for by both the university and the student. It only stands to reason the university should have some say in what it is paying for.
     
    Second, Sandra Fluke enrolled at a faith-based, Jesuit university she knew objected to the use of contraceptives. Before the new healthcare law, Georgetown's health insurance DID NOT cover the cost of contraceptives; it's only because the new law mandates contraception must be covered this issue became contentious. 
    It certainly can't have been an issue for Sandra Fluke when was deciding which university to attend, otherwise she would have chosen one other than Georgetown.

    • Avatar of GeekGirlsRule

      Having listened to Ms. Fluke's testimony, the bulk of what she talked about whas a classmate with ovarian cysts who needed the medication NOT for it's birth control aspects but for it's "not losing an ovary and compromising her fertility" aspects, which one would THINK Catholics would be totally on board with.  In the case of said classmate, her inability to get a medication which is the widely recognized treatment for her condition caused her to lose an ovary. 

      I suppose, though, she should have known she had ovarian cysts before she chose a Catholic University, though.
       

    • Avatar of GeekGirlsRule

      Also, private school or not, Georgetown does receive federal funds.  Receiving federal funds does make you subject to federal law in most cases.  There may well be nuances with which I am unfamiliar.  
      But this is more important, you said, perhaps she should have considered birth control availability before deciding to go to Georgetown.  Isn't Georgetown considered one of the best law schools in the country?  So in order to see her medical/health needs met, she should not go with the best school in her chosen field?  That doesn't exactly sit right with me, particularly when men aren't forced to make that choice. 

  22. Avatar of Improbable Joe

    "Boomer" is a terrible person, based on the posts on this issue. Is it better or worse that I avoided foul language and profanity?

    • Avatar of Boomer

      'Pends on what you mean by terrible…

      • Avatar of marilove

        How 'bout this:  You are a terrible person who bases your opinions on lies and half-truths, and you refuse to actually answer direct questions.  You are a terrible person becuase your opinions are based on bullshit, and you are so in love with your own biases that you are unwilling to base your opinions on actual facts.
         
        You're either an idiot, or a lair.  Which is it?  If you're a liar, then you are indeed a terrible person.

  23. Avatar of dcardona

    No matter how awful Maher can be, it doesn't give Limbaugh a pass. And for those who are showing Maher love in the comments, or even just defending him: sexism against one woman or in situations you deem "acceptable" still contributes to a culture of misogyny, so he doesn't get a pass, either. It doesn't really matter who's the bigger ass – the point is they are both asses. Their political views don't change the fact of their individual sexism and misogyny.

  24. Avatar of tracylords

    I think the system is playing out in a fair way actually. Fluke exercised her freedom of speech, and that took a lot of guts. I can comment on blogs like this in somewhat anonymity, but I know I may excoriated (virtually) by others who disagree.  I have spoken in front of local government and these guys can get as bad as Limbaugh in their petty comments, and we all know where each other lives, it can get scary. Limbaugh exercised his freedom of speech, and to assume there will be no consequences for that vitriol is silly, but not a violation of his right to free speech. The same with any public speaker. Say what you want, I will support your right to say it, but there may be consequences. In this country, if you have the guts to publicly take the national stage ( which Fluke did as does Sarah Palin) and express your opinion, you open yourself up to a whole slew of "pundits". Tosh, Jon Stewart, Al "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" Franken, Ann Coulter, Limbaugh, Stephen Colbert, ad nauseum. Limbaugh should be called out for what he said and be held responsible, as should anyone. I applaud Fluke for what she did, that was brave and and example of a society who values free speech. We should all be so brave.  Limbaugh showed the other side of a country that values free speech, I support his right to say what he did, and I also support every freaking person in this country who says he is a big fat idiot for saying it.

  25. Avatar of tracylords

    PS, did anyone see the " Don't Re-Nig in 2012" Bumper Stickers? Wow, its hard to believe we are in the 21st century. Still is it any worse than the " Somewhere in Texas a village is missing it's idiot?" Yeah. It is. Since I didn't say it before, Maher has his head stuck up his ass too. That feels even.

  26. Avatar of kagehi

    I really don't think there is much point in attempting to explain to Boomer that the relevant details here **do not involve**, "having sex", or pregnancies, but medical issues, related to health and fertility. I recognize the name, and from what I remember, the last post where it showed up they where pretty much completely impervious to arguments about the actual specifics of the post, and kept rambling on about side issues, and their own personal "interpretation" of what the post was actually about instead.
    In short, they didn't contribute significantly to the actual conversion, just to the noise from the crowd around the people trying to have one.
    Besides which, there is a good point to be made that someone "paying" to be educated, or for a service, is **usually** considered to have the primary say in what it is that gets delivered, and that when you are trying to buy the *best* product, you don't generally expect to have your face spit in, and told that they won't provide you which something you asked for, purely on ideological grounds. That is absurd, and unprofessional, at the bare minimum. However, the issue goes beyond that when it comes to employers, instead of services (colleges being the later). You may not have a great deal of choice in employers, so having said employer, if they are the *only* ones hiring, or even the only ones in the area, tell you that they are going to enforce their religious preferences on you, regardles of your own… That is called "discrimination", and is supposed to be illegal, expect, apparently, when it women, and/or someone cries "persecution" loud enough that a law gets passed to discriminate against **their** relgious beliefs anyway.
    And, even then, there are some things that, legally, even churches can't do to their members, regardless of what their "faith" says about it. Which should be irrelevant, in this case, because we are not talking about churches, merely employers that operate under ***non-religious business laws***, which are far stricter in what you can and can't do to people, who happen to be connected with those that do have such rights. Its simple, all they have to do to make it legit, is stop calling themselves a for profit hospital, and instead make themselves a church. Only… Somehow I imagine there might just be a few other legal intanglements if they did that, which would be even more inconvenient than refusing to provide someone with a medication, which is so safe that there are things you can get over the counter, without prescriptions, that are 1,000 times (or greater) more dangerous.

    • Avatar of Boomer

       

      I really don't think there is much point in attempting to explain to Boomer that the relevant details here **do not involve**, "having sex", or pregnancies, but medical issues, related to health and fertility. 
      …the last post where it (?) showed up they where pretty much completely impervious to arguments about the actual specifics of the post,
       

      That's funny, I thought we were discussing whether it's right for conservatives to point out to those having a cow about Limbaugh's idiocy that left-leaning darlings behave the same as Limbaugh.  Guess I haven't been paying attention…

      …In short, they didn't contribute significantly to the actual conversion, just to the noise from the crowd around the people trying to have one.
      Besides which, there is a good point to be made that someone "paying" to be educated, or for a service, is **usually** considered to have the primary say in what it is that gets delivered, when you are trying to buy the *best* product, you don't generally expect to have your face spit in, and told that they won't provide you which something you asked for

      A point which you wouldn't have felt compelled to make except to respond to my previous post. Hmmmm. Maybe I don't understand what you meant when you said "contribute significantly to the actual conversation."
      Of course the person paying for a product or service has the primary say in what they get, which is why most people shop around. It seems pretty clear to me that when Ms. Fluke was shopping for education, the quality of her education was more important to her than whether or not the university health care plan provided contraceptive care. 

      …when you are trying to buy the *best* product, you don't generally expect to have your face spit in, and told that they won't provide you which something you asked for…

      That's simply absurd. When you shop for a product or service you seek a vendor who sells what you want, or is willing to customize their product/service for you. If you want IHOP pancakes you go to IHOP, you don't go to Denny's and demand they make IHOP pancakes especially for you.

    • Avatar of Boomer

      You may not have a great deal of choice in employers, so having said employer, if they are the *only* ones hiring, or even the only ones in the area, tell you that they are going to enforce their religious preferences on you, regardles of your own… That is called "discrimination" 

      So if you have a great deal of choice when it comes to employers then it's okay for them to 'discriminate?' What's the cut off? More than 10 employers to choose from and it's okay for them to discriminate? You're not making any sense…
       
      Besides, an employer choosing not to offer contraceptive care in their health plan on the basis of religious beliefs is not forcing their religious preferences on you. Telling you as a condition of employment you CANNOT USE contraceptives would be forcing their religious preferences on you. 

  27. Avatar of tracylords

    Skepchicks should take this and  start a post discussion on how your insurance policy decides Drug Coverage.  I posted elsewhere that drug coverage management is controlled by only a few companies in the US.  Medco, Express Scripts (which Medco just bought) and Caremark. There are others, but even the Federal government's program is usually managed by one of these companies. I worked and managed with Medco for a few years, and all plans are slightly different. Medco does not like you knowing different plans that other companies have, and they negotiate all kinds of things with drug manufacturers, different corporations, and the government. They will also aggressively call you to change to a generic medication to try to save you money, but in reality it does save you money but saves the sponsor far more.They have huge pharmacies for 90 day mail order that they want you to use, increasing their bottom line, but also saving you money. However,  if you don't switch to mail order, they will increase the copay at the local pharmacy. Medco used to manage about 1 in 4 plans so more than likely the majority of the people posting on this site with insurance has had or has Medco, Caremark, or Express Scripts. None of these companies get mentioned when Limbaugh or the President speaks, and I believe Medco is the provider for the Catholic Church. You could easily give all birth control at no copay and raise the copay of Viagra or Cialis by $5- $10. Viagra and Cialis are far more expensive to cover than most pill form birth controls and patches. Thats the nitty gritty of it. What is the copay, compared to usage, compared to total cost of the medication.  That's your bottom line, any other form of arguement is just silly. Rx coverage shouldn't be about ethics. If the arguement is about ethics, I have posted elsewhere that all medications that can cure symptoms of lifestyle choice, be it type II diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sexual dysfuntion, obesity, smoking cessation etc etc., should also be non covered since they all fall under the "Seven Cardinal Sins" as far as the Catholic Church is concerned.  Ironically, even if birth control is covered it is almost impossible to get it covered if you are under 18, you need to get "prior authorization" from the doctor stating it is required for a medical condition. As if a writ of rx was not exactly what that is. Doctors usually hate Medco for making them do that btw. David Snow is CEO of Medco, I have met him a few times, a very tall guy reminds me of Tony Robbins. Google him. He is the guy they should be talking to and about. Give him call. He would love to hear from you.

  28. Avatar of praetor

    Ignoring Rush and Maher (they are both guilty of being asses), the whole debate boils down to 'will the insurance you pay for cover the health care you need and can someone impose upon your right to that coverage because of their personal ideology".    What if an employer who didn't believe in vaccinations could refuse to cover your child's vaccinations?  What if they morally felt vaccinations were harmful?  I personally think that chiropractors are glorified massage therapists.  However, if I was an employer, I am sure some of my employees would want to have chiropractic care covered.  It would be wrong for me to deny them that coverage if they are paying for the plan.  
    A major medical need for women is reproductive care.  We want this care covered by our insurance plans.  College age women, who are generally healthy, probably won't drain the system with their need for diebetic supplies and heart bypass surgery.  They just want their insurance to cover the care they will need to utilize.  Simple.  Why else would you buy insurance.  This should have nothing to do with the ideology of your employer or school. 
    The men throwing the insults are from the demographic who will produce the biggest drain on the healthcare system.  It is older Americans and their chronic health care needs that we are struggling to cover.  As a country we do need to discuss what insurance can afford to cover and what it can't; however, the only reason we are having this discussion about covering contraception is because of sex.   This isn't about freedom of conscience or religious freedom.  It is about trying to control sexuality.  Does the church have any problem with any drugs or medical care that doesn't have to do with female sexuality and reproduction? 

  29. Avatar of Artemisia

    Both deserve censure for their comments. 

  30. Avatar of kagehi

    So if you have a great deal of choice when it comes to employers then it's okay for them to 'discriminate?' What's the cut off? More than 10 employers to choose from and it's okay for them to discriminate? You're not making any sense…
    You are the one not making any sense. Because this is some sort of religious issue, its considered OK. Then why is ***almost nothing else*** OK for them to discriminate about? In point of fact, by their own absurd standards, if religion trumps all things, then their employees/students religious views should be paramount, not their own. After all, its not students imposing their views of what is right and wrong on the company/school, but the company/school doing that to the employees/students. Its OK to be a dictator, based on institutional prejudice, by a legal entity, but the values of actual people don't matter? This is sane?

  31. Avatar of digger

    Baboons, the lot of them.  None of them hired to speak for anyone.  Deserve as much regard as the spot of mustard on the table but get as much as the one stained on your shirt.  Annoying and always there.  None of them deserve my discussion…they do nothing but keep the masses cranky.

  32. Avatar of Boomer

     Its OK to be a dictator, based on institutional prejudice, by a legal entity, but the values of actual people don't matter? This is sane?

    You seem to've missed the point I was trying to make. The values of individuals DO matter… as long as we have a choice.

    Because this is some sort of religious issue, its considered OK.

     
    You are looking at it the wrong way. Because we have a choice we are all allowed to CHOOSE if what a particular institution does is ok FOR OURSELVES. The solution you seek means the government chooses for you, and everyone else.
     
    Consider:
     
    You want the government to force all entities which offer health care services to include services to which they object on religious grounds. You have no problem with this because the services you want align with your values. On the other hand, you OBJECT STRENUOUSLY to the government (in certain states) ALSO requiring all entities offering abortion services to include other services along with the abortion.
     
    The problem with giving government the power to eliminate choices for individuals is the government will not always be run by people with whom you agree idiologically. The solution, it seems to me, is to keep the government out of the individual choice realm as much as possible.
     
    But, that's just me… 

    • Avatar of sallystrange

      I just don't see why the religious beliefs of a third party should have any influence on the coverage I negotiate between myself and my insurance company. Sure, they're facilitating the coverage as my employer or as the school that's taking my tuition, but ultimately the coverage belongs to ME, not my employer or my school. Since when did religious freedom include the ability to penalize other people for not abiding by your provincial religious rules, just because you happen to be employing them? That is quite a novel interpretation of the Establishment Clause.
       
      You're obviously impervious to facts or reason, Boomer, otherwise you wouldn't be repeating lies like, "Sandra Fluke wants free birth control" over and over again. I'd say you're a troll, but sadly it appears you are sincere about your idiocy.

      • Avatar of Boomer

        Sure, they're facilitating the coverage as my employer or as the school that's taking my tuition, but ultimately the coverage belongs to ME, not my employer or my school.

         
        You say 'facilitating' but wouldn't a more accurate term be 'subsidizing?'
         

        I'd say you're a troll, but sadly it appears you are sincere about your idiocy.

         
        Hmmm. Kinda sounds like one of those I'm-not-a-racist/homophobe/misogynist/etc.-but statements. But hey, at least we're making progress. I'm an idiot, but at least I'm a sincere idiot! I'm not sure exactly what that means to you–that I deserve sympathy? A condescending pat on the head while you remain certain I'll never understand your enlightened point of view?
         
        I wonder Perhaps someday we can come to realize that even idiots' (and by idiots I mean those we disagree with but have to live with) opinions deserve respect.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          You say “I wonder Perhaps someday we can come to realize that even idiots’ (and by idiots I mean those we disagree with but have to live with) opinions deserve respect.”

          Strange, I thought people deserve respect, even stupid people.

          Idiots’ opinions, on the other hand, deserve to be derided and proven wrong, not respected.

          • Avatar of Boomer

            Idiots’ opinions, on the other hand, deserve to be derided and proven wrong, not respected.

             
            I would say if the premise(s) and logic on which an idiot's opinion can be proven wrong or inaccurate, then by all mean deride away. All too often, however, opinions are derided purely on the basis of ideology, which seems a fairly unproductive method for getting anything done when compromise is called for.

        • Avatar of marilove

           
          Did you really just compare someone calling you a possible troll, to racism or misogyny?  Are you serious?  Do you lack complete self-awareness, or what?  Holy shit.

          • Avatar of Boomer

            No, I didn't. I compared the "I'd say you're a troll, but…" comment to similar comments made racists, misogynists and homophobes. You know, the kind where they say they're not, but then prove they are.

  33. Avatar of tracylords

    Any company like the Catholic Church,  that is providing insurance and in this case prescription coverage, is allowed to negotiate with the provider, like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and the prescription manager, like Medco. The Catholic Church or its subsidiary provides money into the system and are allowed to arbitrate whatever coverage they want. They also get tax deductions for this. You pay into the system also with your insurance payment. You also are allowed to take a tax deduction if you paid a certain amount into medical bills (it has to be quite a lot though ). As a group, the company and you (plural) should pay more into the system then BCBS pays out. Thats how BCBS makes money, but you don't really own your plan.  If your copay is $10 on a $100 medication, the plan ( BCBS ) uses the money you and the company put into it to pay the rest. They take the money you give them and invest it to make even more money, lik a bank does. Limbaugh doesn't understand that part ( or he does and is being ignorant ) , and Boomer seems fuzzy on it too. It's never "free" its simply covered at 100% of the cost. That being said, you should always have a voice in your coverage, and if something isn't covered, you have the right to try to get it covered. Where the government is interfering ( and rightly so in my opinion ) is they are saying if they are providing kickbacks into religious organizations (they do) and allow religious orginazations to be tax free (they are) then the government can have a certain amount of say in what they cover ( which they should ). Now if religious organizations were to operate like regular companies, report income and pay taxes (which they should), and retracts every dime taxpayers pay into supporting them, then I don't think the government should interfere. Tit for Tat  I say.  If you have an ethical problem with taking birth control or viagra, or cialis, or fosamax, or warfarin (rat poison), or Thyroid ( taken from pig glands) or lipitor, then don't take it, but not providing coverage based on so called ethics is silly.

  34. Avatar of mrmisconception

    I find it laughable that the same Republicans that want you to know everything about every choice you might ever have to make (what doctor to see, what school to attend, what job to take, ect.) because they want no protections to be affored by the federal govenment are the very same people who are constantly attacking the teaching of reality in schools. And let's, for the moment, forget that these choices are non-exsistent for a large number of Americans.
     
    How exactly do they expect anyone to know how to choose any of these things with a faith-based education? I know, they hope you just follow the path, the way, the light, or whatever. DON'T GO INTO THE LIGHT! What were we talking about?

  35. Avatar of kagehi

    You are looking at it the wrong way. Because we have a choice we are all allowed to CHOOSE if what a particular institution does is ok FOR OURSELVES. The solution you seek means the government chooses for you, and everyone else.
     
    My solution is to prevent arbitrary enforcement of what might only be one single person, on everyone that happens to work for them, or attend their school. That is the reality. It is literally possible for policy to be set by a tiny number of people, or even one, with no one having any say in the matter. The presumption that a choice exists is not always plausible. What if you are trying to be a doctor, but the *best* school for that is run by Catholics? Yeah, you have a choice, the second best, or the one you want. But why **should** that need to be a choice at all? Worse, what if its something that is the *only* one?
    The government involves itself all the time in situations where people have, or wanted to, or try to, deny some people the same rights as other people. Everything from making sure that all roads meet minimum standards, not just the ones some people find useful (though they have done a shit job of that, being more concerned with stupid things like whether or not companies can deny birth control), to making sure that the thing you buy on one coast if the same as the other, instead of companies offering different versions, under the same name, depending on where you happen to be. Oh, and they make sure that its what you actually advertise. Given that the people involved here are just as interested in denying paying ***at all***, as they are to demand that you somehow prove, like with the AZ bill, that you need it for some medical reason, not protection, this isn't a simple case of, "We don't like the idea that you might be using it to keep from having babies.", it is instead **exactly** the equivalent of the reason the law says, "You must treat someone if they enter the emergency room." Its not a case of, "If its not a hang nail, or a bloody nose, or something trivial, or the person did it to themselves, or you **think** they deserved what they got, for some reason." No, the law in that case says, "It doesn't matter, treat them anyway!" And there are plenty of objections someone could claim on "religious" grounds, from attempted suicide, to drug use, which could, by the same standard being applied to birth control, be excluded from help, by the same places that are horrified that, instead of being told to treat a drug overdose, they have to allow their insurance to pay for pills. Oh the horrors!
    No, if your argument is that this is a case of protecting some clowns, or some organizations (never mind that the later isn't a person) right to their religious ideals, then.. sorry, but that logic would allow exclusion of hundreds of other things that the law *does* protect against being denied, and it could be used for thousands of others. The rights of the person using the insurance *must* override what ever squemishness the insurer has, just as the rights of a patient overrides the personal prejudices of the bloody doctor/nurse treating them in the ER. However, the biggest bloody joke in the whole thing is the number of companies involved who, somehow, apparently without even realizing they already did, **do** pay for it, for their employees. That makes it quite absurd because its basically some people in the company saying, "Our company, being religiously motivated, disgrees with the policy changes we already made, because someone is now insisting we, uh… continue the policy… wait… what?"

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