(Read on. I promise there’s a connection.) Limbaugh shrugged off the loss of sponsors after his television rants, gusto and gutter episodes accusing a Georgetown law student of being a “slut” and “prostitute.” She had offered testimony in support of health insurance coverage for birth control pills.
But, make no mistake, sponsorship of Limbaugh’s program turns on the approval of listeners, and they raised their voices online, calling on advertisers: Proflowers, Sleep Train, Quicken Loans and others to remove their ads from the Rush Limbaugh Show. They did.
Before the power of the Internet came into play, complaints to companies, boycotting their products, had lukewarm results, but, today, we’re seeing the Internet influence of Twitter, Facebook and Change.org, a site for Web mutinies. Start a petition, watch it go viral and sit back as thousands of fellow Internet users join a consumer uprising.
And not all are voting adults. If you’re privy to the technological ways of a 10-year-old, you’ve seen him maneuver a computer like a wizard. So, enter a fourth-grade class in Brookline, Mass. The students had read and liked the message of Dr. Seuss’ book, “The Lorax.” When they learned a movie was to follow (the tale of a whiskered creature, bemoaning the loss of trees), they checked out the web site for the film, anxious to learn more.
But the “hype” for the movie included no reference to the environmental message at the heart of the book. Did the Massachusetts fourth-graders complain to their parents?
They did not. With their teacher’s help, they wrote a petition, posting it on Change.org, stating their case. Universal Studios, they said, should make clear the Lorax is more than an on-screen cartoon character. He speaks for the trees!
Then they watched their class computer screen as their message went viral. Before the Lorax could lend his animated voice to conservation, 57,000 signatures dogged Universal Studios to update the movie’s web site. The studio got the fourth-graders’ message from the Lorax himself: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” Lesson learned. Empowerment at 10 lays the groundwork for changing the world, one petition, one vote, one voice at a time.
Recently, Nicholas Kristof, a columnist who has done his part in exposing sex traffickers and the plight of African women who fall prey to genital mutilation in Africa, wrote of the Internet clout of a Washington nanny, 22, who was on a tight budget and peeved by Bank of America’s new policy to charge $5 a month for use of a debit card.
She sat down, wrote a petition, posted it on the Internet, and in a month, her pet peeve had garnered the support of 306,000 signatures. Bank of America and other banks withdrew their $5 monthly charges.
And what about those fourth graders who took the message of the Lorax to heart? Word is they are mulling over a petition to ask phone companies to save trees by cutting back on printing telephone books, distributing them only to customers who request a directory.
As for Limbaugh, he is neither psychologically nor physically equipped to speak to the reproductive lives and concerns of women, especially those whose children are living below the poverty line. Limbaugh, who confused family planning with promiscuous sexual activity in his vitriolic attacks on a female law student, is naïve to believe he will escape feminine justice from the fired up women he calls “nags.”
The Internet is awash in “FlushRush” sites. The sisterhood does not take kindly to a verbose, ego-driven entertainer who views women as fair game for intrusive and demeaning commentary.
Limbaugh will pay for disrespecting the gospel of a powerful lobby: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Can I hear an A-men?
Judy Elliott is an award-winning columnist from Marietta.