An Ohio radio personality seems to have taken a leaf out of Rush Limbaugh’s book this past week, pushing the envelope of misogyny and extreme conservatism by advocating corrective rape as a legitimate parenting technique. Yes, really. Dominic Dieter, a commentator on Cleveland’s WMMS “Rover’s Morning Glory” show, responded on air to an email from a man who was concerned that his daughter was a lesbian, saying the father should just get one of his friends to “screw her straight.”
After some serious outcry from the LGBTQ community and local radio listeners, WMMS, Clear Channel Communications, and Dominic Dieter himself have all issued apologies. Clear Channel assured that “the appropriate disciplinary action” had been taken. Dieter recorded an apology “to anyone who may have been offended” by his remarks, saying “I regret what I did say. My comments were inappropriate. They were inexcusable, and downright stupid.”
This apology sounds suspiciously familiar – oh wait, yes. It’s the same bullshit I babbled when I got in trouble as a kid for teasing my sister. Or what you tell your boss when she catches you on Facebook. Or what my middle school students give me when they don’t turn in their homework. “Uhh, my bad. I’m wrong. You’re right. Are we good?”
Let’s not forget that we have seen this scandal unfold before; just a few months ago, Rush Limbaugh entreated the airwaves with his rendition of “women who have sex are sluts and I’m entitled to watch.” Look beyond Limbaugh’s egregious sexism (and ignorance of contraceptives’ functioning, and funding) for a moment, and focus on his apology: “I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation … My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.”
Not the best? Attempt to be humorous? Dominic Dieter – sound like a good example? The problem is not simply that these people are seriously standing by their vile, sexist assertions, but that they are getting away with it. As long as the bases have been more or less covered, from a PR standpoint, nobody is truly going to call them out. Dominic Dieter is not fired. Rush Limbaugh’s radio show is as popular as ever, since “sponsors are trickling back to his program and the news media have moved on.” If the people and companies that finance radio shows that propagate hate speech and advocate – oh right, rape – won’t hold them to a higher standard, who will?
It’s one thing to create an uproar over unacceptable speech by public figures, but it means nothing if it’s all forgotten about just days later. Controversy fuels their fire, giving them the attention and the audience they need to thrive. Virtual forgiveness after a mere “my bad” opens the door for them to do it again. Think about it – if you are a radio pundit who makes a living off of stirring things up, it’s the perfect scenario – say something homophobic, racist, or sexist and you’re instantly a star. No consequences.
As a society, I hope that we can reach a point where this type of hate speech on the airwaves becomes completely unacceptable; either the people who propagate it deal with lasting consequences (i.e., get fired) or are paid no attention whatsoever. Here’s to holding out for a higher standard.