Wednesday, April 11, 2007

don imus

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I have been an occasional viewer of Imus In The Morning. What I have most enjoyed in my sporadic viewing has been his conversations with journalists, such as David Gregory, and the common taste we have in roots music (Levon Helm, formerly of the Band, for example). At times the humor crosses the line (this is usually carried on by one of his cohorts), and at that point I would typically either change the channel or get on with the day. Imus has been one of the most effective advocates for the veterans who are patients at Walter Reed, and his political sympathies lie somewhere near my own. At times I would watch Imus while running on the eliptical machine at the YMCA, or reading the morning paper. And finally, I have appreciated the work he and his wife do at a ranch in New Mexico for kids with cancer, and Dierdre's environmental efforts on behalf of children with autism.

This being said, the humor did often cross the line. I was in a period of not watching when his comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team were made, so I did not hear them in "real time". The first responses were the predictable talking heads who had clear objections, and it soon became apparent that there was no real counterpoint (unusual for the twenty-four hour news cycle). As everything settled, it became obvious that the remarks were inappropriate for our national discourse, even in a setting where serious news is blended with shock journalism. This says something good about our national discourse. It was telling that we did not move on to another subject. And then something interesting happened: we began to think about the Rutgers women themselves, who were the true victims here. And then a somewhat extended history of racial humor became public, with which I was unfamiliar, related to Gwen Ifill of PBS, among others, and it was clear that the comments were a part of a larger pattern. The free speech argument was made, weakly, but then free enterprise kicked in: the corporations began to ask exactly how they were going to benefit from sponsoring Imus. And then a two week suspension became a permanent decision. Some have wondered about the place of apology and forgiveness here, but the public seems to have wearied of celebrities who continually cross the line and then offer pleas for second or third chances, with no amendment of life.

Imus may end up somewhere in satellite radio, where subscribers will seek him out and then the burden of his offensiveness must be carried in part by those who choose to spend their money to be there. The women of Rutgers will be seen, I hope, as heroines and multi-dimensional students who have diverse gifts and aspirations. The corporations will find other vehicles for their advertising dollars. The journalists will get their messages across in different ways. There remains a place for an unpredictable conversation about politics, music and culture, with a healthy dose of humor and cynicism, and one that makes the world a better place in the process. I realize this was my own motivation for occasionally tuning in. Perhaps I hoped for the good and tended to tune out the bad. I regret that Imus' considerable social capital has been squandered by the use of commentary that is destructive to others and, to be sure, to himself as well.


Blogger teddy said...

Don Imus

I’ve never been a big fan of Don Imus or for that matter, Howard Stern. I’ve never gotten into the ‘Shock-Jock’ phenomenon, preferring to listen to music when I switch-on the radio.

But… Apparently this Mr. Imus called a fine group of Rutgers female basketball players… “…nappy headed ho’s…” He was calling this predominately black group of athletes by that descriptive, which is not racially acceptable, especially if you’re a ‘whitie,’ which Mr. Imus clearly is, and since a video of the players was running in the show’s background and everyone could clearly see that this was a predominately black group, there was NO mistaking to whom these words were directed.

As a ‘sidebar,’ thank you Judge Ito and “Court Tv,” there are a lot of ethnicities that have “nappy” hair; it is not a phenomenon reserved exclusively for blacks, for “nappy” references anyone with “downy or shaggy hair.”

However, there is another problem… actually several problems:
There’s a double standard: If you tune to any radio station or watch any television show geared to the black audience, you will hear those above-referenced words… along with, “Bitch,” “Bitches,” “Ho’s” ad infinitum or perhaps… ad nauseaum. These are black people calling other black people these disgusting words, the same words which were used to force Don Imus from his Shock Jock Seat.

Furthermore, there is the slight problem of ‘Freedom of Speech.’ Yep, we just blew-off the First Amendment, which supposedly allows anyone in the United States to say anything (aside from yelling “Fire” in a theatre) without fear of censorship or retaliation from a Federal agency.

Ah… but there is the usual band of Tv-mongerers, those who wait for a way to make a fast buck through others’ misspeakings.
Why… the honorable Reverend Al Sharpton, that paragon of righteousness, the man who championed a Ms. Brawley, a challenged young woman who claimed she was mistreated or, I believe the accusation was, “raped” by another… at least until it was proven she hallucinated – I believe that’s a kindly way to categorize the reduction in accusation, has immediately come to the fore, happily ensconcing himself in front of cheap hotel podiums, a plethora of microphones planted in front of his honorable mouth.

Where were the honorable Jesse Jackson or the equally honorable and formidable Gloria Allred, one might ask? Well… apparently they were snoozing… or involved in other hugely important cases involving ample coverage from television cameras.

When you have ‘slow news cycles,’ editors are at a big disadvantage, for they have to fill giant “Breaking News” voids with newsworthy events…. And what could be more newsworthy than a silly Shock Jock suffering a brain fart during a live show?

Of course, the Coach of the Rutgers basketball team was quick to condemn the above “brain fart,” calling it a deliberate smack against all womenkind. During this news conference, she reminded us of all the trials and tribulations of her childhood, and then extrapolated those experiences onto the backs of these valedictorians and honor students, these….

Wait. Hold on for a second – Are all these basketball stars, these scholarshipped students “honor students” and “valedictorians?” If so, this must be quite a team!

When I went to college, most of the scholarshipped athletes were shoehorned under the radar of the Admission’s process, owing to the usual lack of scholarship that goes hand-in-hand with outstanding athletic prowess.

Look – Being committed to athletic excellence requires that one put aside the books and practice… practice… practice; it’s not easy to be outstanding in both academics and athletics… because not even Job would have enough time to excel at both.

Since Rutgers and all colleges need athletics to attract alumni money, etc., athletics is a BIG BUSINESS – Ask any television network what they pay the universities for the privilege of broadcasting their games? Those universities NEED those dollars, so believe me, they court outstanding athletes in the hope of having a winning team and, therefore, overflowing university coffer’s. You can bet this event will probably cause more than a few Alumni to pull out his/her checkbooks…

But that’s not the issue: The issue is… Wait… What exactly IS the issue?

How does the honorable Reverend Al Sharpton, or for that matter, any of these honorable self-appointed Guardians of public mores make a living?

Well… Ya see… some people watch ‘em on Tv, some corporations watch ‘em on Tv and then tax deductible checks are dispatched, some based on their issuers like/dislike of what these honorable Guardians are doing or causing in society. Further, checks are being written for good and bad reasons …. Because sometimes, people write checks just to stir the pot… Can you believe some people would actually do that?

Evidently, there is a direct correlation between how many times these honorable gentlepeople appear on Tv and how many checks they receive at their honorable corporate offices – After all, we all have to make a living, even those among those of us who assess themselves honorable. It’s amazing how many of these honorable people hide behind religious cloth, bandying about the credentials of “Reverend”…

By the way – Anyone heard about that camp for children dying of cancer that Don Imus funds with his own money? Yeah – Duh – apparently that SAP Imus uses his own money from his radio/television show to offer terminally ill children an experience they will never forget.

Wow – What a moron! You know what… this idiot allows children of ANY color this opportunity. My God – Can you believe anyone would be this stupid?

I mean, ‘How’ could anyone who funds something as wonderful as the above camp call those Rutgers basketball players, “…nappy haired ho’s”… and truly believe it?

Gee… I don’t know? Do you?

Now that Don Imus has no job or income to continue his SAPPY attempt to enrich the lives of these terminally ill children… might the good Christian Reverend (“Let He Who Is Without Sin, Throw The First Stone”), Al Sharpton fund this camp out of the goodness of his honorable heart…?

Don’t hold your breath -- The tent’ll be rolled up and the honorable Right Reverend Al Sharpton will have left town and crawled into his woodwork… awaiting the next gathering of Tv cameras… those one-eyed monsters whose job has become one of attracting Rainmakers, Dreamweavers, Sorcerers clothed in the collars of a religious icon but without any belief in the underlying philosophy of Christianity’s Forgiveness..

Copyrightã: April 12, 2007; ‘ted lang,’ imagine, inc.

11:45 AM  

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