Wednesday, April 11

Imus be dreaming.

Let me get this straight -- this is the guy who's making fun of other people's hair?

Allow me to do something completely out of character here and take the contrarian position: What if we actually are making a bigger deal about this Don Imus/nappy-headed hos thing than we need to be?

Before I get into this, a few disclaimers:

1. I do think Imus is an asshole. Yes, being an asshole is kind of his shtick, but equating a group of young women whose only crime was being really good at basketball to prostitutes goes even beyond the level of assholishness typically granted to talk-radio hosts as a matter of course.

2. NBC or MSNBC or whoever should have the right to fire him for this if they want. Anytime some controversial commentator gets the boot from some network, whether it's Imus or Dr. Laura or Michael Savage, there are the usual cries of censorship and blah blah blah, but the First Amendment only pertains to the government silencing people. When the government clamps down on somebody because they think that guy's criticisms are cutting too close to the people in power, that's censorship; when a corporation clamps down on somebody because that person has become a hot potato no sane advertiser wants to touch, that's capitalism.

Now then.

Yes, Imus is an asshole, and yes, he's pretty much asked for whatever misfortune has come his way. But now that he's been booted from MSNBC, so what? Have we really come that much closer to eradicating racism in this country? Is anything he said that much worse than the filth that people like Savage and Sean Hannity spew with relative impunity on a regular basis?

In case your NetNanny has blocked access to this site for the last seven months, let me remind you that I'm the guy who got so pissed about a football game that he deliberately destroyed a toaster, so it stands to reason that I've screamed stuff worse than "nappy-headed hos," both in the privacy of my own home and in public stadiums, at various athletes. None of it had the racially charged element of "nappy-headed hos," mind you, but be that as it may, when all is said and done, I am kind of an asshole. Are any of you going to criticize me as hard as Imus?

I completely agree with ACG that "But look at all the other people who say that!" is no excuse for someone's pointlessly abusive behavior. Imus deserves to be criticized irrespective of what any gangsta rapper out there says. But does Imus's transgression mean that those rappers should be immune from criticism? I don't think it does. My point, which I may not be making very well, is this: The more we put on the blinders and make this only about one asshole radio host, the more we miss out on a chance to have a real dialogue about how racism, sexism, and whatever else are spoken of in this country. "There are a lot of people doing much worse stuff than Don Imus" may not be an excuse for what Imus did, but neither is "Don Imus is an asshole" an excuse for the rest of us to ignore everything else that's still wrong with our society -- or for us to wear ourselves out patting ourselves on the back just because we managed to get one Neanderthal douchebag kicked off the air.

I come here neither to bury Don Imus nor to praise him; I come to ask for some perspective. Let's criticize Imus to the extent that any average schmoe on the street has the right to criticize someone, but beyond that, I leave it to the Rutgers basketball players and their parents. In the end, I'm less worried about the Imuses of the world, whose racism/misogyny just can't help but make itself publicly known, than the Congressman who has much more hateful ideas but is smart enough to keep them relatively quiet. Even once the former has been sent off to radio Siberia, the latter will still be there -- and don't kid yourself that they won't.


RC said...

Doug- I generally enjoy your stuff, even though our political opinions are somewhat, uh, divergent. But when assigning blame for the perpetuation of racism in our society, you really need look no further than the race-baiting power brokers in the black community, i.e. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Joseph Lowery, et. al. Nobody stands to benefit, monetarily and otherwise, more than these clowns for the boogey-man of racism to remain alive, well, and in full flower. That's a point that can't be debated or countered. They are as guilty, if not more so, as anyone you named in your article, or quite frankly could name, for racism's survival and presence at the forefront of the American Conscience, though they are granted a free pass due to the color of their skin.

To quote his eminence Don King, "Only in America,"

Anonymous said...

So, what you are suggesting is that if everyone would just stop talking about racism, and I would presume sexism too, then it would disappear?

hmmmm said...

uch of the need to respond to Imus with loud condemnation is the fact that he is a repeat offender. If this had been his first racist/sexist remark, one could condemn, and then move on. He had been sent to his room for his offense, but has repeated, and needs to be grounded. It may not stop his thoughts on the matter of "hos and bitches" and whatnot, but he can learn that it is not just amusing but seriously wrong, and unacceptable. We cannot stop his personal opinions, but we can stop them being shared, and warping or encouraging his listeners of similar ilk to sound off/act up.

Josh said...

"We cannot stop his personal opinions, but we can stop them being shared, and warping or encouraging his listeners of similar ilk to sound off/act up."

And how do you propose to "stop them being shared?" The police power of government, perhaps? Should that happen to anybody's opinion that you don't like?

ACG said...

I think that the way it's being stopped right now is a pretty good one. It's not necessary to violate his First Amendment rights to keep him from talking this crap. He said objectionable stuff, people said, "I don't want to hear that stuff, and I'm not going to listen to your station if you keep airing it," and he got suspended. Like Doug said, it's called capitalism. Don Imus has every right to say what he said, and I have every right to boycott CBS Radio's sponsors as long as they keep giving him a forum in which to say it.

hmmmm said...

Thanks ACG - that is what I meant "stop the sharing" - call for the halt of his program/fire him, so that his contaminated message does not get the circulation he has had the advantage of 'til now. Not calling for govmnt censorship!

Will said...

Politics makes for a serious case of cognitive dissonace yet again: how many people that brought up the "capitalism"/"Invisible hand" excuse w/r/t gas prices/oil co. profits are now decrying the very same capitalistic forces that got Imus canned from MSNBC?
Not that I'm any less nuts really, just in a different way...

The Fashion Diva said...

Good post.

A friend of mine and I got into a discussion the other day about this guy and my thoughts about it are much the same as what you stated. It's all about perspective. ;)

Tommy said...

Here's what mystifies me. The whole debate has been on whether Imus is a racist and the issue of his sexism has taken a back seat. Did someone slip me crazy pills? Imus looked at a team full of clearly accomplished female student athletes and deemed them "whores." This is a term meant to demean women, rather than blacks, yes? To me, the sexism in Imus' remark is as unmistakable as a fart in church. The racism, less so.

Logic would dictate that Gloria Steinem ought to be riding to the players' rescue, but per usual we find Al Sharpton hogging the mike.

Imus may well be a racist, but if you're going to make that claim and base it solely on the "nappy-headed hoes" comment, you're bogging yourself down in debates such as whether Imus has the right to co-opt hip-hop slang and whether he applied that slang in the appropriate context. Who the hell cares? He called a bunch of women "whores," a term that, based on the outcome, would have been better directed at Sharpton.