Imus Have Been a Racist

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Snark is a mainstay of the blogosphere. We thrive on pointed snarkiness; it serves as humor as well as punctuation. But the difference between snarky bloggers and what Don Imus said is galactic in scale. Snark is snark, not racism

I understand the Shock Jock thing, and quite honestly don't listen to Howard Stern either (meaning including Imus). Milquetoast bathroom-humor jocks like Bob and Tom are no big deal. They're good for a laugh and never take that step too far. But guys like Imus...I guess I don't know what it is you have to turn off in your head in order to make it okay for yourself to call a National Championship group of athletes "nappy-headed hos." Or what is already turned-off in your head that your head even goes there in the first place.

So Imus gets a 2-week suspension to get his shit together and do some apologizing. And he is...he's done the obligatory Sharpton and Jackson apologies, and he's actually setting up a meeting with the Rutgers to apologize to them face to face. Gotta admire the stones, but he owes it to them.

He's been admonished by everyone including Matt Lauer, The Admonisher(tm).

But what gets me, again, is that his problem won't go away. This loud-mouthed, no-holds-barred radio schlock that mouth-breathers really love is going to stay, and if not Stern or Imus, It'd be Opus and Andy or some other bigot trying to be funny with a microphone. Jackson (in a rare instance where I agree with him) states:

“This is a two-week cooling off period,” Jackson said. “It does not challenge the character of the show, its political impact, or the impact that these comments have had on our society.”
In defense of his show, Imus states:
He has urged critics to recognize that his show is a comedy that spreads insults broadly. Imus or his cast have called Colin Powell a “weasel,” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson a “fat sissy” and referred to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, an American Indian, as “the guy from ‘F Troop.”’ He and his colleagues also called the New York Knicks a group of “chest-thumping pimps.”
Colin Powell being called a weasel is hardly a racial slur. Bill Richardson being a fat sissy is...well, let's just say it's not racist. Offensive, sure. Senator Campbell being called "the guy from F Troop" is one teeny tiny step...from overtly racist. And calling the Knicks team chest-thumping pimps is pretty much on-the-nose racism. See, what Imus and guys like him miss is that spreading insults broadly, as well as spreading racist comments around, is equally bad. Spreading insults is fine. We do it here. But covering all of your racist bases doesn't make racism okay. Only attacking blacks is no less evil than attacking all racial minorities, yet that's what Imus's response implies; "hey, I call everyone by their epithet, so I'm not racist because I'm not just after 1 specific group. I spread the hate around."

What kills me is that he still has an audience. And I don't mean after he made these comments. I mean at all, over time. There are people out there who will continue to worship at his shrine and listen to his show, including this guy:
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, whose presidential candidacy has been backed by Imus on the air, said he would still appear on Imus’ program.

“He has apologized,” McCain said.

With friends like that...


Some comments from the Rutgers' Women's Basketball Team. Classy and well-spoken comments, I might add, and completely unlike the incoherent grunts of a washed-up radio jock:
"I would like to express our team's great hurt, anger and disgust toward the words of Mr. Don Imus," Carson said. "We are highly angered at his remarks but deeply saddened with the racial characterization they entailed."

"Our moment was taken away -- our moment to celebrate our success, our moment to realize how far we had come, both on and off the court, as young women," said sophomore forward Heather Zurich. "We were stripped of this moment by degrading comments made by Mr. Imus last Wednesday."

"I would like to speak to him personally and ... ask him, after you've met me personally, do you still feel in this category that I'm still a 'ho' as a woman and as a black, African-American woman..."

"Before you are valedictorians of their class, future doctors, musical prodigies, and yes, even Girl Scouts," she said. "They are young ladies of class, distinction, they are articulate, they are brilliant, they are gifted. They are God's representatives in every sense of the word."


steves 10:20 AM  

As you know, it truly takes a lot to offend me and in certain contexts, certain insensitive comments can be funny. I heard an excerpt from Imus with his comments and did a double take. This isn't a borderline statement, it is full-blown offensive. In this day and age, he should have known better.

I briefly listened to him a few years ago and didn't care for him or Glen Beck, for that matter.

As for standards of offensiveness, there seems to be some odd cultural mores. We are at the point where mocking a person based on their race will not be generally tolerated. OTOH, mocking certain religious beliefs is ok, as is making fun of the mentally ill. I guess we still have a ways to go.

As for forgivess, it is hard to tell. Society seems willing to forgive certain transgressions and not others. Roman Polanski drugged and had sex with a 13 year old girl and was convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor before he fled to France. He has never been able to return, but that hasn't stopped anyone from working with him and he has also received a standing ovation when he won an academy award for "The Pianist."

Mel Gibson may not be so lucky, following his crazy tirade. I guess time will tell.

Smitty 10:42 AM  

As for standards of offensiveness, there seems to be some odd cultural mores.

Agreed. We're about 2/3 of the way there. The other odd more, though, is that it is okay when one subgroup mocks themselves; catholics bashing on the oddities of Mass is strangely okay, and as a Catholic, I'd laugh. An Iranian comic was bashing on Iranian manners of speech versus other Arabic countires, and it came across as funny. But there's no way that same Iranian comic would bash on a Catholic Mass...

Self-mocking is okay, and it's even okay, I think, to laugh even if you're not of that group. But understand when it's not cool for you to steal that material...

B Mac,  1:47 PM  

Agreed Smitty; look no further than the Chris Rock bit which (according to White Person Rules) I cannot repeat:

If a White person got 30 seconds into that routine, he would be booed off the stage. But I'm still allowed to think it's pretty damn funny. I think you also get a nice case-in-point with a recently-released cinematic masterpiece; Borat: Cultural Learnings for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazhakstan (sp?)

If you haven't seen it, it contains dozens of horribly politically incorrect (read: racist, sexist, ethno-centric, etc.) jokes. But because Sasha Baron Cohen is Jewish, we are allowed to laugh at the line "Throw the Jew Down the Well"

Time and again, Cohen got other people to exposed their quietly-held racism and bigotry, so we could laugh at them. And it's flippin' hilarious at times, but it also makes a pretty profound statement about the type of opinions people will share if they feel comfortable.

When people like Mel Gibson and Don Imus say stupid, racist things, they merely expose their OWN bigotry. Any idiot with a microphone can do that.

steves 8:03 AM  

I saw the Rutgers press conference yesterday. I thought they did a great job and gave Imus a well-deserved smack down. OTOH, they mentioned how their image is tarnished and how profoundly this incident has affected them. This has the potential to be blown out of proportion.

red, white and brew 6:40 PM  

Why don't you just cut and paste the Democratic Party talking points?

It would be easier than typing a whole blog.

Smitty 4:02 PM  

RWB!!! You're back! You've been missed.

And again, no. Just an R who doesn't drink the Kool-Aid all the time.

As for this particular post? No, I pretty much cut-and-pasted this guy. Who has no love for the D.

That being said, he didn't deserve to get canned over it. We're just now figuring out that Imus was a dickhead?? He's been this way all along. If you were going to fire the guy, wouldn't you have done it long ago, if he was saying stuff that mean? You bet. But it never was a priority, so it's weird to all of a sudden make it one.

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