The language wasn't the worst part about Rush Limbaugh's tirade last week, in which he called a Georgetown University law student a "slut" and a "prostitute" because she wants contraception to be a requirement of health insurance.
Limbaugh's decision to target a private citizen, rather than, say, President Obama who has championed the idea, wasn't the worst part either.
Oh, those were poor choices alright, choices that ignite calls for government to limit what can be said on radio and TV and, ultimately, in coffee shops and across back fences in America.
But far worse than Limbaugh's words or his target or his venue is the fact that the credibility of those who share his desire for less government has taken a beating.
We agree with Limbaugh that insurance companies, not government, should decide which medical issues they cover and at what price.
But those who see affordable insurance as something government should help provide are not sluts. They're not prostitutes. They may not even be wrong, at least to the degree that we've all been taxed beyond reason and government may have an obligation to help us with important services we can no longer afford.
We know that co-ed Sandra Fluke is herself an outspoken liberal activist but that doesn't excuse Limbaugh's antics.
We know left-leaning Bill Maher and others are often more crude than Limbaugh in pushing their points.
But what makes anyone think they can win an argument by being loud and obnoxious? High school debate teams know they need research, logic and, yes, even compromise to win competitions. You don't convince many doubters you are right with just uber passion and a megaphone.
We're glad Limbaugh apologized to Fluke on Saturday, and again on Monday. We wish he would also apologize to the millions of Americans who don't share the extreme views of the left or the right.
Those are the folks who determine the outcome of elections and set the nation's political tone.
They may be undecided on a lot of complicated issues and they may be having a hard time choosing the candidates who best represent their viewpoints. But when loud-mouth bullies try to shout down an opposing idea with vulgar language, guess which way the average American tends to lean?
Don't change your positions, Rush Limbaugh. Just be a little kinder, a little gentler, and a lot more effective in helping us convince others we don't need Big Brother's "help" to be comfortable in this life.