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Rush Limbaugh: Jane Fonda wants him kicked off air. Should FCC listen?

Feminist activists Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem are calling for the FCC to take action against Rush Limbaugh. Doing so, however, could create complications. 

By Staff writer / March 12, 2012

Actress Jane Fonda arrives at the The Weinstein Company after party following the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. Fonda wrote an opinion article with Gloria Steinem calling for the FCC to take Rush Limbaugh off the air.

Gus Ruelas/REUTERS/File

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Should the Federal Communications Commission kick Rush Limbaugh off the airwaves because of his harsh speech? That’s what Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Robin Morgan are calling for in an opinion piece published today by CNN.

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Ms. Steinem, Ms. Fonda, and Ms. Morgan are a trio of famous feminist activists, of course. Steinem is cofounder of “Ms. Magazine,” among other things. Fonda was, well, Jane Fonda – do we really need to say more? Morgan was a “Ms.” editor. Together the three are partners in the nonprofit Women’s Media Center.

Their argument is that Mr. Limbaugh’s use of the words “slut” and “prostitute” to describe Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke is par for Rush’s rhetorical course. He uses words like that all the time, they say.

“He promotes language that deliberately dehumanizes his targets,” they say.

If pressure on sponsors does not cause Clean Channel Communications to drop Limbaugh’s show, then the FCC should step in, Steinem, Morgan, and Fonda argue. Radio stations are supposed to use their licenses “in the public interest.” If enough listeners complain about Limbaugh, then the stations that carry him could be denied license renewal, according to the three women.

“It’s time for the public to take back our broadcast resources,” they write.

Well, we have this to say about that: You can think that Limbaugh’s words were vile, yet realize that this FCC strategy is unlikely to work, and could be dangerous.

First, it’s logistically difficult, since it would require an activist dump-Rush movement to remain focused on this strategy for years. The nation’s radio stations indeed have entered a cycle of license renewal applications, according to the FCC. But the last won’t come up for a re-do until 2014.

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