Democrats & Liberals Archives

What Happened To Imus

After all this time, Don Imus is done in by a scandal of less than a couple weeks. Out of a TV show, out of his Radio show, basically kaput. What happened here? He portrayed a number of innocent people in terms of the worst possible stereotype imaginable, when they represented the exact opposite reality. But it also says something that the axe only has fallen now, not previously.

It's hard to accept an apology from Imus with the expectation that he'd never do it again. Not that he's especially racist, but he doesn't seem to care much about reforming the degree to which he is. This was a guy not conditioned to inhibit what he says.

There's some value in being able to tell it like it is, but there's also some value in admitting you don't always know it like it is, and that perhaps you need a some restraint until you know the facts. As Paul would say in the bible, it's not what goes into your mouth that makes you unclean, it's what comes out of it. All manner of evil can come from poorly, ignorantly, or maliciously chosen words.

What Imus called the Rutger's basketball team would be roughly equivalent to a preacher getting in the pulpit and calling the local cheerleading team a bunch of flaxen-headed whores, or a television announcer calling a women's softball team a nice bunch of sluts. It's a statement that reflects on the target's reputation. Given that the team was heavily black, the meaning of the words would be amplified greatly. Public degradation of that kind is unconscionable.

Imus allowed himself to do this, because he was not typically restrained on commenting negatively about their people and their community. Imus represents a generation of politically oriented on-air personalities who have seen little problem in accusing a wide swath of black woman of pumping out the babies, of being ho's for the government's money, so to speak. They had no problem with portraying black men on welfare as lazy good-for-nothings, modern Stepin Fetchits. They also had no problem in justifying the notion of the police treating any black person in a nice car as if they must be guilty of something. I mean, what's wrong with racial profiling, besides the fact that people are supposed to be presumed innocent, and protected from unwarranted search and seizure?

Imus's episode with the Rutger's basketball team is no different than a reckless driver finally taking a corner too fast and crashing. He'd already had quite a few smashups in the past. This is just the one that killed his career, or at least put it into a coma.

What was his career, and the careers of others like him based on? Speaking the unspoken forbidden things, that some would regard as truths. Believe the worst of the blacks, the Mexicans and immigrants, but can't say it? We will. Believe the poor are just grasping after your money? We believe you. Believe that all the social programs and stuff are the communists and socialists trying to take over? Believe that the liberals are in league with the Muslim Fanatics and other multiculturalists, and that the UN is a front for the Antichrist? Don't worry, we'll believe you, and tell everybody else, to boot!

And if you have a problem with us saying these things, well then you're part of that PC crowd, perhaps even one of those good-for-nothing groups we don't like. Nobody can tell us what to say. And if the media shuts us down, it's because they have a liberal bias.

Imus is part of a world where the more wrong some people allege you are, the more right you will seem to others, who call themselves brave, call themselves bold, call themselves hard-hitting. They say this out of a nice, protected market niche, which uses the shock value of their outrageous behavior to make money, and the constant devotion of their like-minded listeners as insulation against the disregard most people hold their views. They set their system up to give them this kind of protection from having to actually succeed in a straight debate with their opponents and rivals that they feel they are entitled to. Then they forget it's there, and go on as if it's general acceptance that keeps them on the air.

It's easy, up on the pedestal many entertainers and personalities are put upon, to forget that you're just another mortal. Many of the the folks who make it up into those business are strong personalities or presences to begin with, and thus have been accorded a great deal of deference in their lives. The challenge in being a responsible public figure in these terms, whether you're a celebrity, a talk show host, or even a politician, is to voluntarily treat yourself as answerable to others on the matters of which you speak, that if you say something you might think that others consider questionable, that you are obligated to present some sort of decent case to support your controversial opinion.

If we want to raise the level of the discourse, we have to learn that restraint and inhibition do not necessarily detract from the ability of a person to speak the truth, if it really is as true as they think. As children and adolescents, the strong feelings and the ignorance concerning what we think is true can often lead us to say silly things, regrettable things. As adults, we hopefully have enough experience in the world to know what is fit to say, and what is not. For quite a while, the media has promoted a sort of adolescent sensibility in itself and on the audience, operating more and more on an emotional, sensational level. We need to move past that, evolve past that, and deal with our culture on a more sophisticated, more adult level. Until we move towards that, beyond the arrested adolesence that many pundits and personalities display and encourage in the media today, we will always end up right back where we started on these matters.

Don Imus was fired because the media companies for once made an adult decision on what kind of standards they keep in the media. If they want to keep things up, they should ask themselves what kind of personality they can replace him with that they'd be proud to keep around, that audiences would be fascinated to listen to and watch. Today's audience is much smarter than the media gives them credit for, and those who are able to take advantage of that fact will reap the rewards. If you don't want to have to pay for the stupid, obnoxious things that people like Imus say, don't pay for the folks who say them.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at April 15, 2007 5:53 PM
Comments
Comment #216721

Yes, TV and radio stations that allow it, are condoning it. MSNBC was well within their rights to fire Imus.

Congratulations. I didn’t see anywhere in your article that it was all the Republicans fault. : )

Posted by: d.a.n at April 15, 2007 7:13 PM
Comment #216726

Stephen,

Imus is an interesting dichotomy.

Yes he is an absolute boor, he has said things that were sophomoric, and hurtful, and obnoxious.
He’s an adult that still revels in fart jokes, and anyone was fair game for his churlish humor.

Beyond that, he also is well read, capable of deep thought, and dialogue, and able to hold his own with any of the numerous political, and other guests he has had on his program.

It has been said by others here that he apologized merely to keep his job.
If that was the case, why is he still meeting with the Rutgers women even after he was fired?
Why, if the Rutgers women have forgiven him, is there still this vendetta against him?

Posted by: Rocky at April 15, 2007 8:01 PM
Comment #216729

Personnaly, I’d like to see Howard Stern go to.

Posted by: KAP at April 15, 2007 8:52 PM
Comment #216730

While I don’t agree with the ignorant statement that caused Imus his job, and I have never like his juvenile sense of offensive humor…….

This whole episode shows displays the racism, and lack of Christian values (forgiveness) of the Reverends Sharpton and Jackson. There are many many more prominient entertainers that have been using the same kind of degrading language against women for years, and yet they ignore them.

I would point out some examples, but I’d most likely also be labels a racist for only listing figures from races other than my own, and since no one can see what race I am, I’m not allowed to list any without being a target for even more bigotry.

Posted by: niCk(MemBeth) at April 15, 2007 9:00 PM
Comment #216732

Stephen,

You have an interesting take on Imus. I have stated that I’ll not weep for him, he’s quite wealthy and should have known better.

His choice of attacking women striving to acheive something with their lives was stupid.

Kinky Friedman had an interesting take on the subject. While I have never been a dedicated fan of either of them, I always took their sometimes racist and sexist spouts as sardonic humor meant to ridicule racism and sexism. I may well not know all of their respective shtik. I saw it as speaking to the truth of commonly held beliefs and exposing them for the stupid and absurd lies they were. I never viewed either as racist or sexist men. Their own generations were filled with that backroom type of humor. They simply brought it to the stage.

Perhaps it is my own insensitivity that leads me there, but I always took their humor in the context of their clearly progressive political views. Somehow, I doubt I’m the only one who sees that.

I have no problem with Blacks and Women being outraged at the statements. I have no real problem with the firing. I hope that a deeper look at the message these figures send out is forthcoming. To date, I haven’t seen it. I see lots of PC posturing.

There is a difference, to me, when someone who promotes understanding and tolerance pokes fun at stereotypes, and racist, sexist purveyors of intolerance winking at stereotypes.


Posted by: gergle at April 15, 2007 9:42 PM
Comment #216733

I wanted to add,

I find it hard to justify Stern, but let me try.

While I’ll acknowledge most of Stern’s shows are mostly an attempt to draw an audience with the lowest common denominator of purient drivel, there is another message he sends.

Stern is the purile juvenile who makes all the completely stupid remarks one could possible make, yet he is also a leveler. He let’s his viewers know that their sense of the absurd and titillating is just as valid as the intellectually snobbish folk who walk around with an air of superiority and moral elitism. His humor is often cruel, but in that sense, more honest than the pomposity of those who rail against it.

I do not wish to censor these voices from the ether. What I most like about the internet is everyone can have their venue, unless we begin to attempt to make it into MSM pablum.

Posted by: gergle at April 15, 2007 10:17 PM
Comment #216735

Sharpton and Jackson are likely milking this for all that its worth, no doubt. That’s their choice. Personally, I have never been a fan of gangsta rap or the culture it glorifies. I certainly find their presentation of women to be revolting.

I’m not too insistent on political correctness, either. The word “ho” is just another variant on any number of naughty words I use from time to time with friends and other members of the family. But I understand what the word means, to whom it can be offensive, and that they have very good reason to be offended if I misuse it.

People should take responsibility for what they say, and if they find they can’t speak that well about what they believe or wish to do, they should reconsider both.

Rocky-
I think our culture is undergoing a kind of integrational period, and perhaps has been for some time. America’s beginning to rebel against the politics of division, because for many, it no longer makes cultural sense. Many people no longer look at America and merely see an anglophilic white culture.

There’s a thin line between satirizing racial prejudice and participating in it, and Imus crossed that line. I can understand the call not to carry political correctness to its extreme. We do need to be somewhat diplomatic about our communications, giving people time to realize and correct snafus if necessary, to let things slide when we understand what they really mean. At the same time, though, political incorrectness is often used as a cover for genuinely bigoted and offensive messages, and lines need to be drawn somewhere.

I think in the wake of the Democratic victory, folks are once again taking the approach that would be more aligned to our political sensiblities, rather than that which was aligned to the class of 1994, with it’s more old-fashioned sensibilities on race and culture. Imus and others road the reaction against the cultural liberals during the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s in. Now, I think, the tide’s going out the other way.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 15, 2007 10:38 PM
Comment #216741

Stephen et al

I do not know if the Imus thing represents anything new, but this “wake of the Dem victory” stuff makes no sense. Imus leaned left. Look at his guest list and you have a who’s who of prominent Dems. Rather fewer Republicans.

Imus was one of your boys, not mine.

Posted by: Jack at April 16, 2007 12:09 AM
Comment #216743

Stephen,

“At the same time, though, political incorrectness is often used as a cover for genuinely bigoted and offensive messages, and lines need to be drawn somewhere.”

The problem is that we cannot legislate away the people’s right to be assholes.
As I said in David’s thread, people are people, and it will be a long time before these prejudices are gone. The wheels of progress turn very slow.
What Imus said, while reprehensible, isn’t illegal, and the chances of it becoming illegal any time soon are pretty slim.

Posted by: Rocky at April 16, 2007 12:33 AM
Comment #216750

I recently thought about the video “Glamorous” with Fergie and Ludacris, and recent Gwen Stefani videos.
I generally don’t like Rap either, but occasionaly hear something New. I’ve liked some Tupac, Ludacris, and Eminem.

I’ve always been a big music fan.

I thought Fergie’s and Gwen’s videos seem to convey that they are rich, beautiful and amounted to little more than fashion commercials. In Which, of course, they both have growing businesses.

In Fergie’s video her and Ludacris machine gun cops, fashionably, of course.

In rap it almost always seems to be about the number of ho’s and bling each gangsta has acrued. Capitalism in the raw.

Musically these offer some interesting combinations of influence.

Then I thought about my youth and the Hippy images of happiness in Nirvana, smoking dope, hanging out at the Haight, smuggling dope from Turkey. The images of free love and simple life portrayed by the musicians who drove to the bank in their limos and flit about in jets.

There were those lost teens who bought into the imagery, hook line and sinker. They traveled to San Fransico or Woodstock with flowers in their hair, to find themselves starving, cold, sick and alone in a mass of people.

There were those who burned records and announced the end of civilization.

Most of us hummed along and lived our pretty ordinary lives. Somehow, I bet most of our children will, too.

Music is a business as well as an art. I enjoy the art. I don’t buy into the business. There will always be those horrified, and those seeing a deep meaning.

As Bob Dylan once said, when asked about his social significance: “I’ve always thought of myself as a song and dance man.”

Posted by: gergle at April 16, 2007 2:14 AM
Comment #216752


If the firing of Imus was strictly an indictment of his speech, I would be greatly upset. I don’t believe speech should be censored. I may not like what you say, but I will defend your right to say anything you want, within the bounds of public safety(like yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre).

However, it looks like the Imus firing was a business decision. The timing looks like CBS didn’t pull the plug until some of the big advertisers started bailing out. If that is the case, I don’t have a problem with letting him go.

By the way, I am mystified over some of the reactions from talk show hosts over the Imus flap. I was listening to Randi Rhodes the other day and she was using language that is just as offensive and cruel as Imus. But, when a called attempted to point that out, she defended herself by claiming that she had the right to say whatever she wanted, including advocating the firing of every right wing host on the air, because they are all “liars and hypocrits and hatemongers”. Others have done the same. I wonder tif they ever stop to think about the consequences of their advocacy? Probably not.

Posted by: John Back at April 16, 2007 7:52 AM
Comment #216753

I don’t think the Imus firing counts as an ideological victory for either side. He said something atrocious and the advertisers bailed. From the view times I have seen his show he did not seem to be pushing an agenda in the way that, say, Sean Hannity does. He basically represented the point of view of cranky, somewhat racist, middle-aged white guys.

Hopefully his firing will prompt some introspection in the Black community about “gangsta” culture, in the way that the Richardson incident lead some Black people to swear off the “n-word”.

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 16, 2007 8:11 AM
Comment #216754

John Back-
I don’t agree with the sentiment that you’re allowed to be as mean and nasty as your adversary. I think people should try to be above that.

I think Imus’s firing came in part because folks could not defend his actions as a generalization to a larger group, such that people could tell themselves or be told that those innocent of this weren’t being targeted. So I would concede that this might not normally happen. But I wouldn’t concede that this wasn’t going to happen eventually.

When you have this generalized prejudice about a sector of our society at work, sooner or later you’re going to misjudge an individual, and the content of the character of the person is going to manage more than the difficult to disprove generalization of the community.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 16, 2007 8:23 AM
Comment #216755

Imus’ infamous address to the Radio/TV Correspondents Association Annual Dinner in 1996. Good snapshot of his ideology:

http://imonthe.net/imus/ispeech.htm

As you can see, he was definitely not one of “our guys”:

And while President Clinton’s cabinet is not technically a family, they are the single oddest looking group of people ever assembled. Like the bar scene out of Star Wars. I mean, watching them file in for the State of the Union reminded me of seein’ all those clowns falling out of the Volkswagen at the circus.
Posted by: Woody Mena at April 16, 2007 8:30 AM
Comment #216758

Imus firing was nothing but a cover, to make people think NBC and others are PC. He said something that was wrong, but how many times do you hear others say something along the same line, rap music, tv shows, movies. Because these are suppose to be fiction is doesn’t count BS.
A question to ask yourself, how many times have you said something that was not PC?


Posted by: KT at April 16, 2007 8:36 AM
Comment #216759

KT,

NBC wasn’t PC. They were trying to make a profit, which is not possible without advertisers.

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 16, 2007 8:39 AM
Comment #216780

“Nappy headed ho’s”
“Bald inbred rednecks”

The difference in PC world?
The formal gets you fired for saying it and the latter gets a laugh.

What happened to Imus?
In his desire to be funny, he said something about the wrong group of people.

RE: Stern
Whats worse? Calling women ho’s or bringing them into your studio and treating them like ho’s?

Posted by: kctim at April 16, 2007 11:00 AM
Comment #216785

Stephen D.

I agree wholeheartedly. The idea that I have the right to be mean, nasty, obnoxious, and rude because you are is stupid. If we are ever going engage in a conversation that could prove enlightening to both of us, we need to appraoch each other with respect and civility. And, I must say that you fulfill those requirements to a “T”. I may not agree with what you say, but I am continually pleased by the way you state your case. Logically and civilly.

As a long time talk radio lilstener, I have noticed a tremendous decrease in the quality of talk in the past few years. Both the left and right seem, in general, to be trying to outgross the other. Most of the hatred I hear on the radio is not aimed at color but at ideals. Liberal bashing, conservative bashing, Bush bashing, all seem to be the norm now. And, it is amazing to me to see how few of the talk show hosts and their callers know the difference between liberal philosophy and socialism. And how few know the difference between the political philosophy of the current administration and true conservatism.

There are a few, for example Mike McConnel on WLW and XM radio, who do know the difference and try to inform their listeners, but most just go along. You, I think, would make a very good radio host. You seem to be a cut or two above most of them.

Posted by: John Back at April 16, 2007 11:35 AM
Comment #216787

kctim-
First, you assume that the media is all that PC anymore. Here and there, maybe, but apparently you haven’t tuned into the Comedy Channel or Spike TV any time recently. Mind of Mencia, South Park, any of the Roasts, Reno 911, The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, or any of the folks who constitute that group.

Especially the folks that constitute that group. Jeff Foxworthy has made a career out of “you know you’re a redneck” jokes, and Larry the Cable Guy is a walking Redneck Joke himself. People are laughing about bald inbred Redneck jokes, even taking a perverse pride in what Foxworthy calls “a glorious lack of sophistication”

Context matters. One part of the context with bald, inbred rednecks is that they poke fun at themselves. Humor, when not too vicious, can be way of defusing tensions. For the most part, the greater part of redneck humor is from the rednecks aimed at themselves.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 16, 2007 11:45 AM
Comment #216793

Jack, you might want to check things further before making a statement like “he is one of yours”. I’ve mentioned before that he is a registered Republican, but voted for Kerry. For all of his negative statements and attitude, he will do something equally positive and good. He was all over the “macaca” incident, in support of the photographer. Kinky Friedman is a long-time friend of his who he supported strongly, yet at this point in time, he is standing firmly behind McCain.
I’m certainly not condoning his statement in any way….it was totally inappropriate ! I will continue to maintain that he has probably done far more good over time for numerous recipients than the negative things he is associated with. And I’m betting that a lot who are willing to nail him on here have never paid a great deal of attention to his show and just want to jump in and make some noise.
Until some of these other hate-tossing media hosts are admonished for doing things equally indecent, then this is all pretty much BS. Sharpton and Jackson are having a hay-day with the best exposure they’ve enjoyed since their last public debacles and the networks will recover financially and no doubt surpass where they were prior to all of this. A good public blowup is always good for the reps………
The girls on the team have accepted his apology and have forgiven him, and they were the direct recipients of his bashing. They had an incredible amount of grace to do that, the rest is just overkill.
Imus will continue to give a lot of terminal cancer kids some great memories to take with them…..he will continue to blast the administration and anyone else who is standing in the way of these soldiers getting appropriate medical care upon return from combat….he will continue to attack this administration for its’ imbecilic handling of this war….he will continue to fight for society to recognize autism as a runaway health threat…..he will continue to fight to have thorazine removed from our children’s vaccines…..These aren’t all bad things, and Imus isn’t all bad.
So, okay….jump on me…that’s your right for disagreeing with what I think is right and fair, and as of now, that is still one of our collective rights to exercise.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at April 16, 2007 12:32 PM
Comment #216802

Stephen,

While the Imus remarks were innapropriate and in bad taste, what ever happened to the “sticks and stones”. Seems that a lot of people have empowered Sharpton and Jackson, both of whom have little moral authority to stand on (given their own past statements in public).

Posted by: wkw at April 16, 2007 12:51 PM
Comment #216803

Stephen
You assume PC is about fairness, it is not. It is about not hurting “feelings.”
Some of the CABLE media is not that PC anymore. Thankfully, they provide a service catered towards the majority and not some special interest group who is trying to make a buck.
Mencia is so successful because the majority of people are sick of the double standard people like sharpton and jackson have created to become wealthy.
Just because they want and need to live in a world of “racism,” doesn’t mean the rest of us want or need to.

You speak of how context matters, but context was not even considered in the Imus case. Imus was trying to be funny and had he been black, nothing more would have come of this.

Posted by: kctim at April 16, 2007 12:51 PM
Comment #216812

Stephen,
“And if the media shuts us down, it’s because they have a liberal bias.”


Wow! This is definitely a “chink in the armor”; you even suggesting that there’s a (remote) possibility you’d believe the Media (MSM) was “biased”?!!!***

The Advertisers need to go after Hollywood and the entertainment industry if they (really) want to “clean up and educate” about race in this country. Yet, we know the answer to that…

Posted by: rahdigly at April 16, 2007 2:12 PM
Comment #216819

As a trend this really bothers me…. Comedians will have to watch what they say now. This will have a chilling effect on free speech.

I remember even before 9/11 it seemed the media was afraid to call Bush on his phoney baloney. The constraints imposed on the news, whether social or business oriented, have stopped the news from being interesting at all. People started going to Comedy Central to find out what was going on and get some straight talk. So what happens when all the comedians have to fear instant reprisal for saying the wrong thing? I don’t think it’s healthy for free speech, and free speech is not doing all that well anyhow in my opinion, at least as far as the MSM is concerned.

Posted by: Max at April 16, 2007 3:02 PM
Comment #216860

Rocky:
“The problem is that we cannot legislate away the people’s right to be assholes.”

What legislation? Imus was fired due to political pressure brought forward by people who had taken plenty of racist remarks from him for years without this pressure for his firing. This time however, he simply said one thing too many, and did so about the wrong people.

John Back:
“The idea that I have the right to be mean, nasty, obnoxious, and rude because you are is stupid. If we are ever going engage in a conversation that could prove enlightening to both of us, we need to appraoch each other with respect and civility.”

Yeah, but meanwhile, rightwingers have their own a cable television station, and a whole army of these hate-filled pundits and personalities that are raking in the big bucks because a whole lot of the people on your side of the aisle adore this kind of “entertainment” (disrespectful and uncivil behavior).

“And, I must say that you fulfill those requirements to a “T”. I may not agree with what you say, but I am continually pleased by the way you state your case. Logically and civilly.”

It’s true. Stephen is very remarkable in his civility. While other folks such as myself, no longer have the patience to be so unfailingly civil in the face of this ever growing barage of hatred and intolerance that attempts to go by the name of “humor” or “wit.”

Max:
“So what happens when all the comedians have to fear instant reprisal for saying the wrong thing?”

What Imus said wasn’t even close to funny — it was a baseless attack on people who didn’t even do anything to deserve what he said. In my view, it’s the truth contained in comedy, and how that truth is expressed, that makes all the difference over whether something gets accepted, or not. In this instance, there wasn’t an ounce of truth being expressed.

“I don’t think it’s healthy for free speech, and free speech is not doing all that well anyhow in my opinion,”

Actually, this is not a free speech or First Amendment issue at all. Imus still has the same right as you or I to say whatever he wants, it’s just that the company he worked for, and those who sponsored him, no longer felt he should have the right to air his views on a national radio program and TV show. And not to worry, without a doubt Imus will soon find another gig so he can resume this brand of “humor.”

Posted by: Adrienne at April 16, 2007 5:21 PM
Comment #216870

Adrienne,

My point was that there cannot be laws made such that would make being a jerk, asshole, etc, illegal.

Imus can be, and has been, all of the above.

The Rutgers girls proved themselves better than Imus by accepting his apology.

I cannot throw Imus into the same category as Rush, Coulter, and yes, Jackson and Sharpton.
His behaviour can be churlish, sophomoric, childish. The fact that he does great works for the less fortunate in this country doesn’t excuse any of that.

The ladies at Rutgers have learned a free valuable life lesson and have come out on top as a result.

While I believe that humans are basically good, people can be assholes. We all have that capability, and none of us is pure as the driven snow, least of all Imus.

I will not defend Imus for his words (that would be the message), but that said, I will defend his right to be a jerk (he is the messenger), because the day we create laws that make being a jerk illegal all of America loses.

Posted by: Rocky at April 16, 2007 5:56 PM
Comment #216889

Rocky, you’ll get no argument from me there. I’ve never believed the government should have the right to legislate free speech away from any citizen. However (and in my opinion), political pressure on public figures, such as what just happened to Imus for his racist and sexist remarks should be viewed as perfectly acceptable. It’s people collectively deciding to put pressure on what they’re unwilling to accept as entertainment.
After all, we don’t call them the “public airwaves” for nothing, right?
Let people like Imus, who only exist as personalities because of their purposely rude and intolerant behavior, get shunted off to radio where people will have to pay in order to listen.

Posted by: Adrienne at April 16, 2007 7:08 PM
Comment #216915

Adrienne,

Couldn’t agree more with the last statement of yours. The public gets to decide when someone has stepped over the line. That’s one of the benefits of our multicultural society, there is a built in defense.

Stephen,

The problem I have with your PC argument is not that it those that make racist statements should not be shamed. They should be as I said above to Adrienne. The problem I have is the double standard. Political Correctness has a built in double standard against the racist statements made by a minority. They get a free pass because the built in defense of multiculturalism breads down if it is not ok for white people to criticize black people for making racist statements.

Several prominient black leaders have gotten a pass on this. I’m not sure that Sharpton has ever even truly apologized to the extent that Imus did. Imus was wrong. He has lost his moral authority (if he ever had any). Sharpton was wrong too. He should lose his moral authority as well (at least until he apologizes).

Posted by: Rob at April 16, 2007 9:10 PM
Comment #216988

Rob-
Let Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson receive the forgiveness they grant. Let the questions about equivalency between Imus’s comments and rappers trouble black cultural leaders.

As for racist statements made by minorities, I’d say the best antidote is reasonable debunking.

In all these cases, the arguments seem to tend towards staying the hand of punishment. Instead of doing that, why not take the moral sentiment and more completely express it. Instead of trying to inhibit criticism using such questions of equivalence, why not motivate that criticism elsewhere?

kctim-
I think we should step back a little from terms like Political Correctness and Political Incorrectness, and address what this is really about.

The truth of the matter is, multiculturalism isn’t merely the doctrine of modern culture, it’s the reality. There’s no putting blacks, hispanics and other minorities back in their former place in this society, no undoing the results of changes in policies that mainly favored European immigrants. The choice is between integration and balkanization. America prefers integration, over the course of its history.

America is processing that integration, cultures bleeding into one another, conflicting against each other. Political Incorrectness and Correctness are two facets of a larger process. People are working out the compromises, trying to judge where the new lines are drawn and how, and also trying to find space within which they can relax with their fellow American.

As for the media? Well consider some things. First, America’s cultural products get distributed all over the world. It doesn’t make much sense to offend paying customers

Second, America is full of potential audience members itself, and it doesn’t make much sense to offend paying customers.

Third, America is full of businesses that have something to lose if a show offends their paying customers. And they pay for most of the shows. And it doesn’t make sense to offend paying customers of your paying customers.

Which points to something else: minorities have attained much more political and economic power than they once had. You can’t simply tell them that they simply have to take it.

You celebrate the fact that Comedy Central still caters to political incorrectness, but forget something important: it’s funny there because it’s transgressive. Mind of Mencia only works in a society where ethnic stereotypes are increasingly unacceptable in mainstream life. Mencia is not a sign of what America really thinks

I think Imus’s main problem is that he violated two taboos at once, that together constituted the worst possible insult. The words together brought up images of the stereotypical mindless, loose women, this in terms of college students trying to make there way at one of the nation’s leading colleges. The context matters, both in what the remark means by itself, and what it means in relation to the target.

Rahdigly-
No chink in my armor. The supposed media bias is used by both politicians and pundits to explain why they get in trouble for remarks, rather than realizing that it’s their own failures that brought their troubles upon them. The Republicans had many opportunities not to to misspeak, not to act improperly, which they did not take because the watched and blamed other’s behavior for their own.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 17, 2007 9:31 AM
Comment #217027

Stephen
The double standard which we have, does nothing but hinder the progress you mention and desire.

Mencia IS a sign of what America really thinks.
The majority of people are tired of everybody being treated differently.
Nappy headed ho’s should be no worse than saying bald inbred rednecks. No matter who says it. We are far from that being so.

“Imus’s main problem is that he violated two taboos at once”

Have you asked yourself WHY these words were taboo?
They were taboo only because Imus is white and the the girls were black. If Imus was talking about a team full of white girls, it would have been looked past as being funny.

With something this trivial, having to watch what you say to who is not progress.

Posted by: kctim at April 17, 2007 11:22 AM
Comment #217072

Imus was an asshole back in the 70’s (could it have been the 60’s?, yikes) when I first heard him on the AM in the AM. He’s still an asshole. However, I wish I could believe the “Don Imus was fired because the media companies for once made an adult decision on what kind of standards they keep in the media” proposition.
IMHO this is simply the freemarket at work, enough people threatened enough dollars. No wonder the only thing Jack could spin today was that Imus was liberal.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at April 17, 2007 1:55 PM
Comment #217092

Dave:
“IMHO this is simply the freemarket at work, enough people threatened enough dollars. No wonder the only thing Jack could spin today was that Imus was liberal.”

:^) I’ve been thinking the same thing, Dave.

Posted by: Adrienne at April 17, 2007 4:06 PM
Comment #217131

Stephen,

I’ve read your response to me three times now, and I still have no idea what you really mean. Care to clarify?

Posted by: Rob at April 17, 2007 6:26 PM
Comment #217218

Rob-
If Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson screw up, let the kind of reaction they helped bring against Imus be brought against them. If black people find cognititive dissonance between them roasting Imus over his comments and some rapper saying the same thing, let that troubling sense of things drive them to confront the rappers. And if some leader says something racist about whites or other races, instead of getting mad, or justifying other racism based on that, simply give the logical argument of why their allegation is not reliable, and let them hang themselves with their prejudices if they see fit.

All too often, people excuse and try to blunt reaction against racist, sexist and other objectionable remarks by alleging the other side does it too. My point is, that we should not relent on holding people to standards for that reason, but instead should maintain good standards and demand such standards of ourselves in order to justify our holding others to them.

By taking this approach, we can put an end to the endless morass of relativism and misdeeds justified on other’s misdeeds.

It’s better than everybody just sharing in each others moral failings.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 17, 2007 11:27 PM
Comment #217381

Stephen,

I believe that is what I was saying too, and that a PC attitude that governs what reasonable people can say about minority leaders prevents them from being held similarly accountable.

The fact is that both Sharpton and Jackson have made similar remarks, they were not held accountable because no one would lead the same kind of charge against them that they did against Imus for fear of being labeled a racist.

Btw, I don’t think I made any kind of statement about rappers in my post. I don’t see any cognitive dissonance between them roasting Imus and rappers saying the same thing. I don’t have any problem with the unwritten rule that it is ok for blacks to say the word and whites not to. There are certainly reasonable cultural reasons for this to be permissable.

As I said above, I have absolutely no problem with the action taken against Imus. I do have a problem with the double standard inherent in the current notions of political correctness that makes it ok for them to take on Imus for being an asshole racist while not being called on it when they do something very similar.

Posted by: Rob at April 18, 2007 8:11 PM
Comment #217709

Rob-
Jackson and Sharpton’s comments aren’t all that recent, and they did a lot of apologizing. (how much sincere, I don’t know)

All that said, I still believe that people should apply the standards consistently. My point was that rather than back off from enforcing this social more, we should keep on going.

We should be consistent, within reason.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 19, 2007 9:35 PM
Comment #217885

Well, then I think we agree about most things.

However, a couple of notes on Sharpton:
“Sharpton has never apologized to Pagones for naming him a perpetrator.” from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawana_Brawley. This was the prosecuter that won $300K+ in a defamation suit against Sharpton, et. al. for calling someone a racist and a rapist.

And from http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18224532&BRD=1697&PAG=461&dept_id=44398&rfi=6, “He exploited a 15-year-old girl’s personal problems to advance his racial rabble-rousing agenda. He bore false witness against an innocent man, baselessly accusing him of rape and other despicable, racially motivated crimes.He refused to apologize even when a jury returned with a slander judgment against him. And he persists in that refusal.”Apologize for what?” he asks when pressed.

Nor has he ever apologized for having publicly scorned Mayor Dinkins as “a n——r whore” and Mayor Koch as “faggot” andMayor Giuliani as a “cracker.”

Nor has he ever so much asmuttered a mild note of regret over his 1991 inflammatory public rants against “diamond merchants”—after which aHarlem mob set upon a random Jewish victim and murdered him.”

He deserves less of a pass than Imus does, yet he continues to receive one from members of the left. It is either for reasons of political correctness (I hope) or it is worse; it is the same kind of pass that the Republican’s give the racism and homophobia of the religious right in exchange for votes.

Posted by: Rob at April 20, 2007 6:03 PM
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