That seems to be lost in the hubbub connected to Rush Limbaugh’s recent remarks about Sandra Fluke, who testified before Congress about insurance coverage for birth control for college students.
(Apparently, Limbaugh thought women, to not get pregnant, took birth control pills each time they had sex. Such deep insight into women’s issues might help explain Limbaugh’s four marriages.)
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Limbaugh, after three days of ranting obscenely about Fluke, finally, under tremendous pressure and with a mass exodus of advertisers from his program, issued an apology. For that I give him credit. Had he been a gentleman to begin with, though, he would have never had to apologize.
As someone who works on a campus with a student body that is at least 70 percent women, I have to be aware about being a gentleman at all times. Yes, sometimes the topic of sex does come up in class — we are talking about literature, after all, and there’s a lot of that in that — but I never allow any talk about the sexual lives of any people in the class. To do so would be improper and make many, including the teacher, uncomfortable.
Yes, there are times I overhear things I don’t want to overhear about the personal lives of my students, but I would never comment on those things. It would not be gentlemanly.
I have had to work hard to achieve whatever small degree of gentility I have. My parents were good at instilling in their children a love for learning and respect for people of all colors and economic levels. Good manners, proper decorum and such, though, were not exactly emphasized.
A college girlfriend asked, after seeing my manners at a wedding banquet, if I’d been raised by wolves.
“Jackals,” I responded as I gnawed on a bone.
Limbaugh, on the other hand, grew up in privilege in a semi-Southern area and no doubt was taught to behave like a gentleman.
What I have learned I picked up from observing well-mannered guys, from women friends, and from my wife, all of whom taught me what was and wasn’t proper and respectful.
Because he was never taught good manners by his drunken parents, my dad didn’t know these things and never transmitted any to me. Still, even my rough-around-the-edges … and-everywhere-else … father taught me if I ever used a word like “slut” I might get my tail whipped by someone and would deserve every bit of that whipping.
The leading Republican presidential candidates basically ran for cover when asked about Limbaugh’s remarks. I expected such from Newt Gingrich, considering his history with women, but I hoped for more than Mitt Romney issuing a lukewarm condemnation and Rick Santorum saying Limbaugh was just being “absurd” because that’s what he does.
Like Santorum and Romney or not, both appear to be gentlemen who have lived exemplary lives in that regard. Simple rebukes that Rush hadn’t been a gentleman and should apologize and reform would have gone a long way.
Limbaugh needs to remember that no matter how heated things get or how much times change, being a gentleman never goes out of style.
Bret Kofford teaches writing and
communication at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus.
His opinions don’t necessarily reflect those of SDSU or its employees.
Kofford can be reached at Kofford@roadrunner.com