The controversy over Rush Limbaugh’s incendiary statements about Sandra Fluke and Limbaugh’s subsequent apology has reached its second week. In this age of 24-hour news cycles and government involvement in just about everything, we’ve been treated to opinions on this from presidential candidates, pundits, reporters and, of course, the president. Even in the wake of his apology, Limbaugh continues to weigh in.
We’ve also heard this incident discussed from just about every angle. Is this about religious freedom? Is it about a supposed “right to health care”? Is it about “silencing women,” as Fluke herself claimed in a recent interview?
Even Ron Paul missed an opportunity when he opined, “I think he’s [apologizing] because people were taking their advertisements off his program.”
Yes, Limbaugh apologized because he was losing sponsors. But no one on the right or the left seems to be gleaning the most important point here: the free market solved this problem.
There are no doubt many on the left who would love to find some way to prosecute Limbaugh, or maybe even pass some new laws against “hate speech” or discrimination. However, we’ve just seen how the market deals with behavior that most people find offensive. It defunds it.
As Paul stated in one of the early primary debates, “We don’t have the First Amendment so that we can talk about the weather. We have the First Amendment so that we can say very controversial things.” Indeed we do. Limbaugh had every right to make the comments he did about Sandra Fluke. However, everyone else has the right to condemn his comments, to shun him or to vote with their dollars and refuse to continue to fund his program if they don’t like what he says.
Instead of demagoguing this incident to push partisan social issues that are themselves on shaky ground in a free society, conservatives should have seized the opportunity to point out that the whole edifice of government-enforced political correctness is unnecessary and unjust. Racism, discrimination and all of the other bogeymen that the left cites as justifications for their endless attacks on freedom of speech and association are solved by the market. We’ve just seen proof.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.