As a rule, if you explain a joke, it's no longer funny. But if you explain a Rush Limbaugh joke, it's still stupid. In that spirit, I note a couple of points in his much-condemned ad hominem remarks about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke that do not make sense, one of which suggests he does not really understand the issues raised by the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate. First, Limbaugh mocked Fluke's inflated estimate of contraceptive costs ("over $3,000 during law school"), saying, "She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception." But with the exception of condoms, the cost of birth control does not hinge on how often you have sex, a fact that undermines the whole "slut" and "prostitute" bit. Second, Limbaugh repeatedly suggested that Fluke wanted taxpayers, rather than Georgetown University, to pay for her contraceptives. Last Thursday, for instance, he said:
So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.
Limbaugh repeated this theme in the apology he issued on Saturday:
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?
The policy that Fluke supports, however, requires employers to pay for birth control coverage, which is why religious institutions that consider contraception immoral are objecting. As Peter Grier notes in The Christian Science Monitor, ObamaCare also involves taxpayer-funded subsidies for a government-prescribed insurance package that will include contraception, but that is not the issue Fluke was addressing.
For more on the contraception controversy and its role in the "war on women," see my column tomorrow.