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Why It is Important That Sandra Fluke Sue Limbaugh (and O'Reilly?) for Defamation

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If she can muster the will, Sandra Fluke should pursue a lawsuit against Rush Limbaugh. The right-wing's echo chamber has enabled them to attack personally private citizens and public figures with impunity, explaining, dissembling, trivializing, and overwhelming decent discourse.

Pursuing a lawsuit against Limbaugh, through depositions and a trial, would expose at least part of the right-wing underworld, make more advertisers concerned about associating with him, and, most importantly, impose consequences on him for his actions in the language Limbaugh understands -- money damages.

Sandra Fluke would have a strong case against Rush Limbaugh for defamation (the general legal category that includes libel and slander). She may also have a case against Bill O'Reilly, who did not use the word "slut," but did say that Ms. Fluke was asking the taxpayer to pay her for sex. [Incidentally, another lie -- although not legally actionable by itself -- is that this had anything to do with taxpayers. The issue is private insurers, not the government, providing full coverage for women's health].

Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a "slut," a "prostitute," who wanted to be paid for having sex:

What does it say about the college [sic] co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.

There is no ambiguity to his accusation. In his "sincere apology," Limbaugh asserts he was trying to be humorous. So what? His accusation was clear, and he was not engaging in satire. In case there is any doubt about that, see here for another 12 outrageous comments Limbaugh made about the subject.

In Perfectly Clear, Frank Mankiewicz documents how dropping a good case against Richard Nixon for fraud during his 1962 losing campaign for California governor, the Democrats let him back into the national picture -- with Nixon nearly succeeding in destroying our democratic processes. They dropped it because they thought Nixon had no political future after his 1962 loss

Mounting these legal challenges is no small matter. While one suspects that there are many good defamation attorneys that would take the case on a pro bono or contingency fee basis, the process would take at least 18 months, probably longer, and would subject Ms Fluke to constant scrutiny and right-wing attacks.

Ms. Fluke could achieve something profound. By reigning in one of the masters of personal attacks, she may help temper the political climate. The lawsuit would also provide the public insights into the reality-based world of women's health and women's rights. She would have a platform far, far larger than the one denied her by the House Republicans, and would help blunt their war against women.

She could even donate some of the proceeds of her judgment to Planned Parenthood!