Veterans say they do not have any objection to the Armed Forces Network, known as AFN, carrying conservative radio commentators – the network carries Bill O’Reilly for example.
“I totally believe in people’s freedom of speech,” explains veteran tech Sgt. Jennifer Norris, who served in the Maine Air National Guard from 1996 to 2008. “But when it comes to calling someone you don’t even know a slut, it feeds into the misogynistic attitude towards women – and it hurts our cause.”
This is particularly the case as the US military grapples with rising rates of sexual assault in its ranks, Ms. Norris and others add. In some units, “As a woman, you were either a slut, a bitch, or a dyke. Rush’s mentality feeds right into that, when we’re trying to work so hard to get rid of that.”
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin (D) of Michigan, on Wednesday said he would like to see AFN drop Limbaugh’s show, but that he would not seek legislation to do so. “I would hope that the people that run [AFN] see just how offensive this is,” Senator Levin told CNN.
The decision by AFN to air Limbaugh’s show was controversial when it was made back in 1993. At the time, a group of more than 70 lawmakers complained to then-Defense Secretary Les Aspin about the network’s failure to carry the show. Mr. Aspin in turn supported its broadcast, and the decision was made to air it.
Another call to drop Limbaugh’s program from AFN was made in 2004, after the conservative talk radio host compared the treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib to a “Skull & Bones” initiation, referring to the Yale University secret society.