Monday, October 19, 2009

Bigotry's Bad For Business

Extreme right US radio host Rush Limbaugh was last week pushed out of a prospective ownership group aiming to buy National Football League team the St. Louis Rams. Several black players, recalling Limbaugh’s hateful on-air race-related outbursts, said they’d never sign for a team that counted him as a part-owner. Other team owners, none of them exactly renowned for their social radicalism, balked at the idea. The league itself distanced itself from the bid, citing Limbaugh’s “controversial” remarks. And finally the bidding group’s lead investor, Dave Checketts, dropped Limbaugh, euphemistically calling him “a complication and a distraction.”

Limbaugh knew exactly where to lay the blame for all this. “This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country,” he said, “wherever you find them, in the media, in the Democratic Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative. Therefore, this is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we’re going to have.”

I’d have nothing against a future where conservatism is destroyed. It will be a truly wonderful thing for the vast majority of the world. However, the idea that the Democratic Party or the media in their current forms could directly bring this about is as delusional as most of Limbaugh’s twisted caterwauling. The ironic thing for raving Rush is that conservatism is far more capable than either of the above two institutions at destroying itself. The NFL probably does not care about civil rights, as such. But it does care about protecting its image, and it really, really does care about losing money. The threat of a sponsors’ or a consumer boycott is easily enough to slap the league into a decent stance on facing down bigotry.

There was a similar case in the UK last week, when Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir wrote that the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately in Mallorca should not have been classified as down to “natural” causes, as stated in the coroner’s verdict (he died of heart failure), because his death followed a night on the town with his husband, they may have been smoking cannabis, and they had invited a third man back home with them. The outraged reader reaction to this unfounded, bilious, and entirely unnecessary opinionating caused several companies to pull their advertising from the Mail’s website.

In years past, the Mail would have taken pride and delight in provoking and offending so many people. Nowadays, immediate commercial pressure can force them into thinking again when they run such naked bilge. So even if odious, poison-pushing wasters like Moir and Limbaugh don’t change their views, and bleat in their next six columns or broadcasts that they’ve been deprived of their freedom to stoke the fears and prejudices of little-minded morons, at least the world won’t have to bear the publicised contents of their sickened minds.

It’s not exactly change wrung through storming the corridors of power, as visualised by generations of fist-clenching idealists. Rather it’s a lesser radicalism achieved through the exploitation of capitalism’s sensitive side, born of the belated realisation among corporations that (big surprise here), black people, gay people and left-leaning people all have money too, and they can all choose where to spend it. But before business realised that bigotry’s bad, it took years of lobbying by those heinous forces of idealism – the ones Rush probably thinks are out to destroy him - to illustrate why unfounded hatred on the grounds of gender, race or sexuality is nowadays unacceptable to those of us in the quiet majority too old and comfortable to storm the barricades, but with a molecule of power in our pockets.


Anonymous said...

i can't believe i'm reading about sports :) LOL but rush is a little over the top.

my mandie reed website

Paul said...

It seems to me that all the negative vibes this blowhard (Rush Hudson Limbaugh A.KA. Jeff Christie) has been spewing over these many years has come back to blow back on his face (A classic “Blow Back”). He always tries to give off the airs that he can have anything he wants but as we all witness those with more money and more influence tossed him aside like sack of potatoes and the ultimate insult was that it was done in public (money don’t buy you everything butterball).

Now of course he blames everyone else (Michael J. Fox, Perez Hilton, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor, Hillary Clinton, Olympia Snowe, ESPN, NFL, the media, basically people of color, the handicapped, women and gays) when of course all you have to do is listen to his show and plainly hear his daily prejudices filled sermons. So NFL, I salute you decision, job well done. And to the whaling cry baby perched on his self made pedestal, quit your whining it was your own fault. He is reaping what he has sowed, KARMA, "palin and simple" like his followers. Don’t we all feel better?

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

If "palin and simple" was a typo, it was a very good one.

nathan3e said...

Nicely done as usual. I usually fall asleep the second I see "Limbaugh" in any context. One has to hand it to the porcine old bigot, I don't know that I have ever seen anyone thrive on the outer limits of human foolishness for such an extended period of time.

Incidentally, are you the ian_p going back and forth with LE Eisenmenger over at your former place of employment? If so, well put. If not, I think someone is pretending to be you.

Dave Lifton said...

The NFL actually does care a lot about civil rights. It's very important to their image. It has taken great steps to try to get more African Americans into coaching, front office, and ownership positions.

Limbaugh's most famous racist football-related comment, which got him fired from ESPN, came when he said that Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted a black quarterback to succeed.

No Good Boyo said...

,Black people, gay people and left-leaning people all have money too, and they can all choose where to spend it.

The border between conservatism and reaction is defined by whether you think that statement is an opportunity or a symptom of social decay.

We in the Cymru Rouge will end all class and racial distinctions by replacing pounds and dollars with the Rai stones of Yap.

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

Nathan - that's no impostor, it's the genuine me. Who else would bother to pontificate at such length on these globally crucial matters? My writing's been (well) parodied before, but never impersonated.

Dave, I reckon there's a difference between caring about civil rights and being seen to care about civil rights for the sake of business. But if the end result is Limbaugh's exclusion, I suppose we can overlook it.

Boyo, I never knew there was a border between conservatism and reaction - I thought they straddled each other like wrestling porn stars on a greasy pole. Ever since Mrs. Pop started giving me pocket money, though, I've definitely been socially decaying - by giving me just enough to buy a few CDs, she keeps me happily at home with my headphones on while she locks the doors, ushers me into the kitchen, and holds at bay all the pernicious influences of the outside world (cf. this post's first respondent).

No Good Boyo said...

Conservatives want to turn the clock back, but know they can't. Reactionaries want to turn the clock back, and kill people when they can't.

Ms Reed is clearly one of those conceptual artists I hear so much about. So unlike our own near neighbour Miss Read.

Emerson Marks said...

For some companies to 'pull' their Mail online adverts because of Moir's column is significant.

I recently learnt, via a work related research task, that their daily online audience is estimated at over 28 million. Whereas the Express get around 23m, The Sun 7m.

Although I don't know if this a reflection of Daily Mail readers being particularly fond of using the internet, or just a significant chunk of people sharing their views?

The Birdwatcher said...

Is Rush Limbaugh the American equivalent of Nick Griffen?

Anonymous said...

That liberal conspiracy to squeeze conservatives out of the public discourse isn't working very well. Else I'd not know virtually everything about Limbaugh and his right-wing colleagues while living in Africa and without ever having heard his show.