I’m honestly torn on Don Imus. I think I dislike everybody involved in this mess excepting the Rutgers ladies themselves.
I’ll start with Imus. I find the “I was a firm believer in racial justice and political correctness until rap music changed my mind” argument ridiculous. (Note that this isn’t a quote from Imus, but what I see is the essence of his argument.) I wonder if Imus would rather be a racist than an old man who tried to sound current and couldn’t pull it off.
Also, people who claim that Imus’s right to free speech has been violated by his bosses not letting him say whatever he wants on a television show that his bosses pay for are idiots. Free Speech means the government can’t stop you from saying what you want. You can still get fired, people don’t have to like you, you can even get excommunicated.
But honestly, can we please find someone other than the Reverend Al Sharpton to represent what white people consider the majority African American view on these things?
I mean, I can’t deny that Al Sharpton knows something about the power of words to hurt people. Between the Tawana Brawley case and the Crown Heights Riot,
Sharpton has repeatedly shown himself to be a man willing to hurt lots of people in the name of his cause.
I don’t know if he was ever required to apologize to the family of the rabbinical student killed by the riot Sharpton worked hard to incite, but I do know that I find it weird that Sharpton feels that anyone who says anything against African-Americans ever owes him an apology and we all go along with that.
I mean, the ladies of Rutgers were hurt less by the initial comment than by the fact that people like Sharpton have worked so hard to keep it in the press. I’m torn on that one. Maybe a comment like that needs to be famous so we can all hold it up as a bad example for society. But does that help the originally insulted person more or hurt them more? I doubt there’s one answer.
It also leaves me wondering: At this point, what can Imus do?
He’s apologized over and over, he’s provided excuses, his reputation has been destroyed, he’s gotten fired.
And everyone is still mad at him.
It seems sort of an ironic end to a guy who became a celebrity through insulting people to be forever hated now for insulting the wrong people the wrong way.
And while any of us could have seen that "Nappy-headed Hos" would cause problems a mile away, what is offensive and to whom is a really complex subject. To take an example that's pretty personal to the UU blogosphere, pretty much all UUs have heard UUism referred to as a "cult" at some point, we know it's not so we ignore it. But when Robin Edgar heard his revelation referred to that way, it obviously really hurt him. Not condoing anything else he's done. But I do believe him that he heard it called a "cult" early on and that really hurt him. And as I mentioned above, there are a bunch of things Al Sharpton has done that I don't condone either.
I’m not a Don Imus fan. But, if, say, the Simpsons went to far and did something really, really over the top insulting Christianity and Christians started to pull up every example of Christians being the target of unkindnesss on that show, I would be pretty quick to defend their overall record as making fun of everyone but not really meaning any specific insult on any specific group.
Heck, I already defended South Park the same way when Scientologists were condemning it.
What Imus said was way out of line, whatever his motivations for saying it.
I guess I’m having trouble seeing why this is so different from similar incidents of entertainers making fun of similar groups.
Do we need to change the culture of entertaining ourselves by making fun of people?
As a major, major, Simpsons fan, I hope not.
But I don’t know.