Dear Tell All: Right-wing gasbag Rush Limbaugh has denounced a law student as a "prostitute" because she thinks insurance should cover contraceptives. I'd normally be amused at the blowback he's gotten for his hateful comments, but the timing is terrible for me. I'm about to take a spring break trip to Florida to visit my father - a right-wing gasbag himself, and a big fan of Rush. He always spews Limbaugh talking points when we're together, and arguing with him is useless. He doesn't approach these things reasonably, and the discussion usually devolves into a personal attack against me.
Given the recent controversy, I'm expecting the worst visit ever. Any travel tips?
Dear Son: Here are some approaches to consider:
Emergency distraction: When your dad tries to bait you with a Limbaugh talking point at dinner, pretend like you've gotten an olive stuck in your throat. Fall out of your seat and writhe around on the floor. When dinner resumes, bring up the weather.
Extreme agreement: When your dad denounces women for expecting insurance companies to pay for their contraceptives, do him one better: Denounce women for having sex for any reason but procreation. Make sure to keep a straight face, so he's confused about whether you mean it or not. If he accuses you of mocking him, insist that you're sincere and double down with even more extreme statements. It's possible to keep parents disoriented for hours using this tactic.
Mysterious silence: While your dad froths at the mouth, simply stare at him with an ambiguous Mona Lisa smile. He will sputter, run out of gas, and finally sink into silence himself. That's when you bring up the weather again.
Rather than use any of these techniques, you could simply be honest and open with your dad, saying something like: "We both know we don't see eye-to-eye on these issues, so why don't we agree not to talk about them and find other ways to communicate with each other while I'm here." In other words, you could be mature about the whole thing.
Unfortunately, it sounds like you're heading into a situation where maturity is irrelevant.