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The University of North Carolina is being accused of having a double standard for speech – because of its crackdown on references to talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh over his negative reference to a woman who was lobbying Congress for her own free contraceptives.
At the same time, university interests were paying more than $18,000 for a speaker who has a long history of blasting Christians and their beliefs in seriously negative ways.
The school recently decided to ban the Tar Heels Sports Network from affiliating with Limbaugh. It was on March 6 when the university issued orders to two Raleigh radio stations that carry the Limbaugh program to stop mentioning “Rush Radio” and “Carolina Sports” together.
“The university, citing Rush’s ‘rude, inappropriate and offensive statements’ about [Sandra] Fluke, also prohibits WRDU from referencing UNC or the Tar Heel Sports Network during Limbaugh’s daily talk show,” charged officials with Americans for Truth.
Limbaugh’s comments came on the heels of Fluke’s testimony before Congress regarding the Obamacare mandate for employer-paid contraception gained national attention, and an apology from the radio host.
But the university also recently paid a large sum to homosexual activist and host of MTV’s Savage U Dan Savage to speak on campus, said Peter LaBarbera, chief of Americans for Truth.
The organization described it as a double standard.
Michael McFarland, of the university relations office, told WND in an email, “We do not affiliate with or endorse any radio personality or politician, so we asked the local station to end the practice of referencing the Tar Heel Sports Network or the university’s name while promoting the Rush Limbaugh program and vice versa.”
He said, “They agreed. … That is simply to avoid the appearance of a university endorsement of a radio personality.”
And Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Promotions Rick Steinbacher told WND that the two radio stations have agreed to limit their station identifying announcement at the top of every hour to a more generic “call letter” or “radio frequency,” rather than for example saying, “You’re listening to Carolina sports on Rush Radio.”
The programming director did not return WND phone calls.
WND asked Steinbacher if all 50 radio affiliates have been given similar instructions, and he said, “It’s not a standard we apply to all 50 stations.”
“We haven’t called all of them. There’s not an issue with the other stations,” he said.
Jane Brown, UNC journalism and mass communications professor, told the Dailytarheel.com of her desire to see the university completely disassociate itself from the radio station, saying, “I wish we were not on Rush Radio at all.”
“We give Rush credence and credibility by being associated with him.”
“We stand for civil discourse and pursuit of the truth,” she said. “We should not associate with those who do not hold similar values.”
WND contacted Brown to ask about her comments to the Dailytarheel and how she feels about Dan Savage being paid by the university to speak. Her only response was about “Rush Radio.”
“I’m satisfied with the compromise position of no cross-promotion. I trust we will hold the radio stations to the agreement,” she told WND.
But AFTAH wants the university to explain how officials can justify a ban on Rush Limbaugh, after just weeks ago, “paying $18,500 to homosexual activist and cyberbully, Dan Savage, creator of a vile hate-site that redefines Rick Santorum’s last name as the by-product of anal sex – to be a guest speaker.”
The group has written UNC-Chapel Hill officials asking for an explanation on why Savage, “who once wished death on all Republicans and who regularly and crudely demonizes religious conservatives is welcome on campus, but the local ‘Rush Radio’ affiliate isn’t allowed to even mention the college.”
AFTAH also asked UNC to repudiate Savage for his “offensive statements,” and invite a pro-family speaker to campus specifically to balance his appearance.
AFTAH President Peter LaBarbera said that Rush quickly apologized for his remarks regarding Fluke and her testimony before Congress about the Obamacare mandate on contraceptives, yet Savage is known for making far more degrading comments, unapologetically.
LaBarbera offers several examples of Savages perspective:
Savage said on HBO that “he wished all republicans were f—ing dead.” (He later apologized.
Savage’s creation “Santorum[dot] com” (and “SpreadingSantorum[dot]com”) “re-define” Santorum’s surname as follows: “San-TOR-um, n. The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.”
In contrast to Limbaugh, who quickly apologized for his remarks about Fluke, when LaBarbera asked Savage to take down “Santorum[dot]com,” Savage replied, “I’m asking Peter LaBarbera to go f— himself.”
When asked about AFTAH’s position that the university holds different viewpoints on different celebrities, university spokesman Mike McFarland told WND that the Rush Limbaugh issue and Dan Savage speaking on campus are different.
“Savage was invited by students through the Carolina Union Activities Board,” he told WND.
“Student Congress determines how to allocate student fees, and the student-run Carolina Union Activities Board decides how they use their allocation to bring speakers like Mr. Savage to campus,” he said.
“The university does not impose restrictions about who may be invited to speak at the university based on their viewpoints.”
McFarland went on to tell WND that Karl Rove was invited to speak on campus a few years ago by the College Republicans, as was Herman Cain earlier this month.
Online resources describe Savage as the “subject of controversy regarding some of his opinions that pointedly clash with cultural conservatives…”
And LaBarbera says Dan Savage is no Karl Rove.
“He’s not even a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ liberal. He’s a hatemonger that uses terrorist tactics to get his point across, and the university owes everyone an apology,” LaBarbera says.