NJWLA applauds law student Sandra Fluke and blasts Rush Limbaugh for his discriminatory comments

March 2, 2012
Wendy Johnson Lario, Esq.
NJWLA President
E-mail: info@njwla.org


Apologies Are Not Enough

No matter what your political persuasion, your religion, your age, your socio-economic status or your gender, all of us should be able to agree that there is no appropriate reason to hurl degrading personal attacks on a third year female law student who was doing nothing more than speaking out on an issue of national importance. Rush Limbaugh’s media comments in response to Sandra Fluke’s public testimony about insurance coverage for contraception, where he refers to her as a “prostitute” and a “slut” and other debasing comments, are so hateful, demeaning and patently wrong that they cannot go without comment or consequences.

Mr. Limbaugh’s inexplicable assault upon a confident young professional woman like Ms. Fluke not only disparages her, but debases all women and suggests that our voice is irrelevant and worthless. His broader attack on women as “feminazis” is a clear attempt to marginalize women, undermine our credibility and denigrate our role in society. What’s particularly troubling is that this vitriol was completely unprovoked. It came out of nowhere in a debate that, up to this point, had been focused on substance. The comments are hurtful, offensive and malicious, and they demean all of the successes and advances women have worked so hard to attain.

The New Jersey Women Lawyers Association (“NJWLA”) condemns Mr. Limbaugh’s comments about Ms. Fluke and challenges him to not only sincerely and publicly apologize to Ms. Fluke and to women in general, but to retract his shameful comments and showcase professional women on both sides of this issue, on his show, with respect.

Political debate is what makes this country great. Strong views on both sides of a topic help us critically evaluate where we stand and are essential to our democracy. The same is true with the ongoing tug of war over the cost of contraception. Why did the discourse break down here? Why didn’t Mr. Limbaugh stick to making substantive arguments on the other side of the issue, instead of resorting to calling the messenger names? Why does misogyny keep rearing its ugly head? Enough is enough. This kind of uncivilized commentary and discriminatory treatment of women cannot be tolerated – by anyone – male or female. It’s time to stand up for civility and human decency.

The NJWLA salutes Sandra Fluke and commends her on taking a stand and serving as a voice for many women nationwide. Whether you are on Sandra’s side of the debate or not, her role in the debate itself is critical and her presentation of the arguments has been exceptional. It’s hard to believe she is only a law student. Even more impressive has been Ms. Fluke’s astonishingly professional response to Mr. Limbaugh’s abuse. She did not stoop to his level, but instead addressed his comments in a respectful and effective manner. We applaud her conviction and character, and suggest that Mr. Limbaugh could learn quite a lot from Ms. Fluke.

It is incumbent on all of us to speak out in support of tolerance and respect for women in our society, especially those women who are simply exercising their fundamental First Amendment right to freedom of speech. We urge the public to express its outrage over Mr. Limbaugh’s appalling outburst and rebuff his disrespectful treatment of women.

The NJWLA is an independent bar association with over 500 members committed to the retention and advancement of women in the legal profession. The association serves as a voice on all issues of importance to women engaged in the practice of law.

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