Offensive speech is offensive speech, no matter who says it

Published 4:52 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Although I consider myself conservative, I do like to listen to different points of view from time to time. With my XM Satellite Radio, I can quickly turn from Sirius XM Patriot (the satellite company’s conservative station) to Sirius XM Left (the liberal station). While occasionally listening to Sirius XM Left, I became familiar with a host named Mike Malloy.

If you’ve never heard Malloy’s show, he makes Oscar the Grouch look like Elmo. It’s not uncommon for Malloy to use words like “stupid” and “idiots” and even borderline-curse words to describe conservatives. That’s why I wasn’t surprised in the least to read that Malloy recently said something extremely mean-spirited and offensive about the victims of the recent tornadoes.

On his March 2 show, Malloy is quoted as saying: “Their God … keeps smashing them into little grease spots on the pavement in Alabama, and Mississippi, and Arkansas, and Georgia, and Oklahoma … So, according to their way of thinking, God with his omnipotent thumb reaches down here and so far tonight has smashed about 20 people into a grease spot on Highway 12, or whatever the hell highway they live next to.”

What really bothers me, however, is that we haven’t heard much of anything from the national media about Malloy’s poor-taste comments. Yet, at the same time, I’ve seen story after story about the offensive words of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who called a Georgetown law student a “slut” and “prostitute” after she testified before Congress on why birth control should be made freely available.

I like Limbaugh, for the most part, but there’s no doubt that he can say some dumb things. At last count, he has lost nine sponsors from the show for his remarks, and has been forced to give a rare public apology. You can argue the merits of birth control all you want, but I think that calling a young lady such things is truly offensive.

Again, Limbaugh has apologized for his comments. What has Malloy done? As far as I can tell, he’s done absolutely nothing, and he will likely make even more additional mean-spirited remarks in the future. Now, it is true that Limbaugh has a much larger audience than Malloy, and therefore Limbaugh’s remarks will be covered in the national media much more. However, Malloy is still a national name as far as liberal talk show hosts (he’s still broadcast on Sirius XM Left), and should be held to an equally- high standard. Either that, or you can argue that Malloy’s comments should fall under “free speech” — but if that’s the case, then so should Limbaugh’s.

Two radio hosts, both said unbelievably offensive things. One’s being tarred-and-feathered in the court of public opinion and is losing sponsors left and right, while the other’s transgression has been essentially ignored. Is that a double standard? I’ll let you be the judge.

Justin Schuver is the managing editor for The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at justin.schuver@thepostsearchlight.com.