Rush Limbaugh and the Thought Police

Half a dozen friends to whom I've spoken this week, and many more Shakers in comments here and/or in my inbox, have expressed through grinding teeth their churning consternation with the accusations of "oversensitivity" and "fascism" and "censorship" and "thought policing" in response to criticizing Rush Limbaugh's latest disgorgence of vile misogyny.

No, this is not a First Amendment issue. No, this is not a censorship issue. No, the women who are the actual targets of the bigotry being expressed (and our allies) are not "oversensitive"—we are merely sensitive to the patterns of sexism and to its practical effects, and those who ignore or apologize for misogyny are in actual fact not sensitive enough.

And no: The people who object to misogyny are not the thought police.

The people who, for many years, have objected to Rush Limbaugh's naked bigotry in all its grotesque manifestations—his misogyny, his homophobia, his racism, his trans*phobia, his ableism, his classism, his xenophobia, his Christian Supremacy, his very selective vice- and body-policing—are challenging his supporters and apologists to think about things in a way in which they may never have thought about them before; are exhorting his supporters and apologists to compassion, to empathy.

We are not the thought police.

To those who mistakenly believe that we are, I offer this alternative perspective: The entire rest of the world, with its privileging of men, and heterosexual and cisgender people, and thin (but not too thin!) and tall (but not too tall!) and able white bodies with neurotypical minds, and religious people and people who have sex (but only in certain ways!) and people who can and want to be parents and the wealthy and the educated and the employed and the powerful and residents of the Western and Northern hemispheres, and all the ways in which most of the rest of the world facilitates and upholds that privilege, and all the ways in which the rest of the world marginalizes and demeans and treats as less than all the people who deviate from those privileged "norms," and all the ways the rest of the world has indoctrinated you into that system of privilege, and socialized you to believe it's the natural and right and immutable state of the world, and all the shills for the kyriarchy who fill the ether with self-reinforcing rubbish on a constant loop so you swim in a sea so thick with the detritus of Othering that you don't even notice it on a conscious level anymore, and all the jack-booted bullies who swarm out of the woodwork to kick you back in line if you do notice and dare to protest, if you have the temerity to question the message, and all the other bits and bobs of the brainwashing to which we are all subjected since the day we're born as part of the scheme, nearly incomprehensible in scope, to ensure that challengers to these traditions are never made, and, if they're born, are squashed with the weight of mountainous tidal waves of blowback in the other direction…? The purveyors of that shit are the goddamn thought police.

And you know what one of the biggest lies they tell you is?

That it's the other way around.

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