A poor choice of words
On February 22, Republican congressman John Sullivan, of Oklahoma’s first district, explained his frustrations with congressional Democrats to a town meeting. “I supported the Paul Ryan budget and sent it over to the Senate. Now I live with some senators, I yell at them all the time, I grabbed one of them the other day and shook him and I’d love to get them to vote for it—boy I’d love that. You know but other than me going over there with a gun and holding it to their head and maybe killing a couple of them, I don’t think they’re going to listen unless they get beat.”
On February 29, conservative radio host and part-time walrus impersonator Rush Limbaugh explained his frustrations with a woman who, though barred from speaking at a congressional hearing, attempted to speak against the government exempting religiously-affiliated organizations from paying for contraception. “What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex–what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
A day after Sullivan’s remarks, his spokesperson issued the following statement: “The congressman offers his sincere apologies to anyone he offended and for using a poor choice of words to make his point.” Three days after Limbaugh’s remarks, he gave this apology: “In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke....My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
Now, many of you are probably pretending to dust your hands off and saying, “That settles that! These gentleman apologize, no need to think further about the issue.” But others of you may notice a certain phrase, a phrase common to the apologies that egotists proffer when they realize they have made an “oopsie.” Specifically, that the speaker had a poor “choice of words.” This is a fine way to avoid genuine apology.
Indicating that a phrase has a poor “choice of words” is tacit approval of the phrase itself; such statements deflect criticism with apologies without actually acknowledging the phrases’s flaws. Try telling someone “go f**k yourself” and then apologizing by saying you chose your words poorly, and that you wouldn’t mind if the person instead chose to fornicate, copulate, consummate or have sex with himself. Hopefully, you will be punched in the face.
These poor trolls, Sullivan and Limbaugh, have confused a “poor choice of words” with a “moronic choice of ideas.” And one final note to Limbaugh: you mention that calling Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” was an attempt to be humorous. A bear riding a bicycle is humorous, Mr. Limbaugh. A puppy sneezing is humorous, Mr. Limbaugh. A person weighing in on matters of medicine when he possesses no degree beyond a bachelor’s in dropping out of college after one year is humorous, Mr. Limbaugh. Calling a person a “slut” and a “prostitute” because you disagree with her is humorous in the same way that a basketball is a piece of fruit.