Former Georgetown Law student and women's rights activist Sandra Fluke (LAW '12) has been nominated to be Time's 2012 person of the year for handling her controversial time in the national media spotlight “with poise and maturity.”
40 people received nominations including Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Mohamed Morsi, and Bashar Assad. Although the editors at Time make the final decision of who is selected, the site allows readers to vote for or against each nominee. Kim Jong Un ranks first with 3.5 million yes votes. Fluke ranks near the bottom of the pack with 38,000 yes votes to 77,000 no votes.
Late last February, Fluke received national attention after her speech to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee came under harsh criticism from the right. Most notable were radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s comments, labeling Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute.”
Fluke argued that religious institutions like Georgetown should not be exempt from providing health care assistance for contraceptives on religious grounds. She cited the high cost of contraceptives and law students’ financial difficulties in meeting this cost.
After Limbaugh’s infamous tirade, members of the left and right alike came out in support of Fluke and called for a more civil discussion over the crucial issue of contraception access. Even President Jack DeGioia publicly defended her, earning him recognition as one of The Atlantic's 2012 Brave Thinkers.
Fluke then took an even more active role in women’s rights advocacy, leading Georgetown Law students to petition the University to change its health care policies regarding contraceptives and delivering a key speech at the Democratic National Convention. Democrats used Fluke’s story to emphasize women's issues in the 2012 election, which contributed to Barack Obama’s significant lead over Mitt Romney in the women’s vote.
Fluke’s Time nomination has sparked considerable dissent among her detractors. Once again, Fluke's critics are attempting to paint her as a government-dependent whiner. Fox News’s Lars Larson, radio host of America Live, called Fluke “a poster child for the Santa Claus presidency of Barack Obama, the food stamp presidency of Barack Obama.”
Gateway Pundit editor Jim Hoft was bit more extreme in his description. “[The nomination] will put [Fluke] up there with Adolf Hitler and Yasser Arafat,” he wrote.
Sean Hannity of Fox News was keen on holding Fluke up against some of the prior winners of the Person of the Year award.
“You heard it right. The failing magazine [Time] is now elevating former Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke to the same level as, let's see, Winston Churchill, Pope John II, Martin Luther King Jr. Just a few of the previous world leaders to earn the distinction and here to try and explain how advocating for publicly-funded birth control qualifies Fluke for the person of the year,” he said.
Person of the Year is not necessarily a reflection of the decency of someone’s actions or character, though. Time tells readers to “cast your vote for the person you think most influenced the news this year for better or worse."
For her part, Fluke hasn't publicly commented on her Time nomination, except for tweeting that she felt "honored" to even be considered.
Photo: PBS NewsHour via Flickr