By MARC McDONALD
Right-wing nutcase Rush Limbaugh has an odd definition of rape. For example:
1. If Iraqi prisoners are being sexually assaulted and tortured at Abu Ghraib prison, then, in Limbaugh's view, they are being subjected to mere fraternity pranks.
2. However, if the state of Maryland requires companies like Wal-Mart to spend modestly to provide some basic health care for their workers, then this is the "government-sanctioned rape of an American business."
Limbaugh isn't the only right-wing nutcase with odd views on rape these days. Take Michael Savage, for instance.
In September 2000, Savage was discussing a program in which students volunteer to distribute sandwiches to the homeless in San Francisco, when he let loose this tirade, (which is creepy on so many different levels, you could write a book about it):
"The girls from Branson can go in and maybe get raped ... because they seem to like the excitement of it. There's always the thrill and possibility they'll be raped in a Dumpster while giving out a turkey sandwich."
Once upon a time, comments like these could land right-wingers in hot water. I recall that in 1990, Texas gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams cracked a "joke" about how rape is like the weather. "If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it," he said, in a comment that quickly became the biggest issue of the campaign and wound up sinking his prospects for election.
These days, I doubt such a comment would even be remarked upon by our increasingly timid national media. We're so used to twisted comments by the likes of right-wingers like Ann ("Earth is yours. Rape it.") Coulter that our capacity for outrage has blown a fuse.
But I would like to send a memo to Mr. Limbaugh on the topic of rape. The fact is, if a state government requires the likes of Wal-Mart (a company with annual revenue of $288 billion) to spend a modest amount providing basic health care to its workers, this is not "rape." Indeed, it's merely an entirely reasonable request: asking the world's largest corporation to pick up the tab on an expense that taxpayers would otherwise be forced to cough up.
On the other hand, what took place at Abu Ghraib was most definitely rape.
As journalist Seymour Hersh has pointed out, the U.S. government has videos from Abu Ghraib that depict children being sodomized. The White House has fought to prevent the public release of these videos.
As Hersh noted:
"...the boys were sodomized, with the cameras rolling, and the worst above all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking."
A message to all you right-wing nutcases: if you're going to talk about rape, please consult a dictionary first so that you have a clue as to what the word means.