in Kulturkampf

Rush Limbaugh Must Be Removed From Armed Forces Radio For Their Sake

My disability began with a rape — or rather, a rapist. PFC Matthew Sullins was a Marine at the Defense Language Institute charged with the sexual assault of a fellow Marine in the barracks. After confiscating his knife collection, pulling him from language classes, and sending him for a psych eval, someone at the USMC detachment decided he wasn’t so bad that he couldn’t be trusted with people’s lives.

When I climbed into the troop van he was driving that September night in 1993, talk radio filled the cabin. I had no idea he was desperate or foolish enough to attempt suicide with passengers on board. The surgical scars, daily pain, and residual PTSD I deal with from his head-on collision with a telephone pole at 45 mph will never go away — but compared to his first victim, I count myself lucky.

The military has been in a process of full gender integration since the 1970s, with women now cleared even for “front line” combat roles. But the military also has an emerging rape problem. Not only are thousands of military women raped every year, but the service culture has been calling them “crazy:”

CNN has interviewed women in all branches of the armed forces, including the Coast Guard, who tell stories that follow a similar pattern — a sexual assault, a command dismissive of the allegations and a psychiatric discharge.


Despite the Defense Department’s “zero tolerance” policy, there were 3,191 military sexual assaults reported in 2011. Given that most sexual assaults are not reported, the Pentagon estimates the actual number was probably closer to 19,000.


“These women have clearly been able to function. They’ve made it through basic training. They’ve made it through all the follow-on training. Many of them are deployed overseas in war, and they’ve done fine there. But, when they’re sexually assaulted, and then report it, it seems very suspicious that the military would suddenly stamp them with a pre-existing condition that bars them from serving anymore.”

Spinal injury sure made me a little crazy; I can only imagine that being raped would make a person really, really crazy. In fact, only an abnormal person would not be at least a little bit nuts afterwards. It is bad enough that the chain of command fails these women serving their country. It is unacceptable that Rush Limbaugh’s sick misogyny gets piped into the barracks to reinforce paleolithic attitudes.

Consider that the four women named in the article quoted here, and pictured above, all had access to free birth control while in uniform. Limbaugh would call them “sluts” if they took advantage of it. Yet birth control is considered a vital part of any woman’s healthcare, and even more so for a woman in wartime: her chain of command would call it “mission critical,” as a pregnant soldier can’t stay in a combat zone.

So I am still determined to see Limbaugh’s program removed from Armed Forces Radio. Military culture is notoriously slow to change, but change it must — because women are not leaving the ranks, and they deserve better.

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