Archive for Sunday, April 15, 2007

Imus reactions reveal hypocrisy

April 15, 2007


The talk show hosted by Don Imus has been canceled by the CBS radio network and MSNBC because he touched the "third rail" of free speech: He insulted African-Americans, some of whose self-appointed "leaders" have a direct line to the media to express their outrage. In fact, outrage is the primary currency of the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Without it, no one would ask them to come on their programs.

Imus' remarks about black women on the Rutgers University female basketball team were the same kind of stuff (and worse) that one can hear in hip-hop "music." Hip-hop "artists," who are mostly black men, frequently demean black women. Their lyrics approve of rape and other violent acts against black women, who are referred to as "hos" and "b------," and other names that cannot be printed here.

Imus' comments about the Rutgers women were offensive by the standards that used to exist in America. The hypocrisy comes when people who have "pushed the envelope" beyond what used to be called acceptable boundaries of taste and community standards now appeal to the standards they helped to eliminate. Corporate executives who trade in the worst of the hip-hop filth are not required to apologize or stop polluting the airwaves as well as minds and hearts with their filth. That's because it makes them gobs of money and money covers a multitude of "sins."

The hypocrisy extends to Jesse Jackson, who appeared on Fox News Channel. In an interview with John Gibson, Jackson criticized Imus for his remarks. It would have been a good moment for Gibson to ask Jackson if he felt empathy for Imus, since Jackson once called New York City "Hymietown," which many regarded as an anti-Semitic slur, but Gibson did not bring it up.

Like Michael Richards, who launched a racist tirade at an audience member during a stand-up comedy routine, Imus is now doing the apology tour. He groveled on Sharpton's radio show, saying he meant no offense and acted as priest and penitent by declaring himself "a good man."

It will never satisfy until people whose careers are built on taking offense have extracted his last pound of flesh and worn out their welcome on the cable TV shows. That will happen when the media tire of the Anna Nicole Smith story.

During the 1980s, social conservatives who tried to control pornography, including that subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts, were told such things were the price we must all pay for a "healthy First Amendment." Artists must be free to express themselves. If certain people object to what is on TV, they can change channels or turn it off.

Why aren't these keepers of the First Amendment flame coming to the defense of Don Imus? It's because they have a double standard. Evangelical Christians, practicing Roman Catholics, politically conservative Republicans, home-schoolers and others who are not in favor among the liberal elite are frequent targets for the left. Anything may be said about them, and it frequently is. But let someone insult the left's "protected classes," be they African-Americans, homosexuals or to a lesser extent, adherents to the religion of "global warming," and they must be silenced and punished.

Was Don Imus racially insensitive and offensive? According to my standards, he was. But my standards no longer matter. They have been thrown overboard in favor of a different philosophy. Call it "Anything Goes." Look up the lyrics to that classic Cole Porter song and you have the mentality that passes for contemporary communication and entertainment.

If the Imus case went to trial, no jury in the land would convict him because the prosecutor would not have a universal standard by which to hold him accountable.

- Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


Scott Tichenor 10 years, 10 months ago

Cal Thomas is a hypocrite. Easy to go after the people that defended the Rutgers team. What about CBS and MSNBC, those that help pay his bills? They didn't pull the plug until the advertisers started bailing. Once the money was gone, of course the proper thing to do was to fire Imus.

But you won't see Cal Thomas criticizing CBS or MSNBC. Reading his boorish comments only serves as a reminder that it's still OK to be openly racist, as long as you're careful and as long as you're defending big money.

Godot 10 years, 10 months ago

Wonder if the sponsors of MTV will force them to change the name of "pimp my ride"?

Crossfire 10 years, 10 months ago

Imus spent 35 years using satire and humor to attack the things that are wrong with America. He has always used shocking statments to get people to think. ...three little words... ...think.

Don Ho died this week. Weird huh...

prioress 10 years, 10 months ago

I hear Santa is under attack as well, "Ho, ho, ho," you know. Imus was one of the best interviewers around and often punctured politicians from both parties. Unlike many of the "Foxites," he read widely, knew what he was talking about, and did his homework. He'll land on his feet and probably go to satellite radio like Stern. In the meantime, I hope his good work with kids continues.

rhd99 10 years, 10 months ago

Jesse Jackson & al Sharpton can TAKE A HIKE! Agnostick, I am with you 100%. My heart hurts for the Va. Tech campus & all the families & friends of those who were either killed or injured.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

"The point is that the musicians which make such music are not regarded as valid political and/or social voices. Name one artist who uses such derogatory words and has political influence."

Really? How much influence do these artists have on young people? Isn't that social voice?

Do any of these artists ever contribute to political campaigns? Do they encourage young people to vote, and if so, do they do such encouraging with the thought that the young people who listen to them will vote for a particular candidate? Isn't that political voice?

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

It is? It's different?

So, it's okay to call someone a "ho" when it's in a song, but not when it's public speaking?

It's okay to refer to the entire female population as "hos", as long as you don't single out any particular females?

"I doubt if most people who listen to it pay much attention to the words. "

Oh, please. I'm not so old that I don't remember listening to music when I was a teenager and a young adult. Of the music that I listened to, and my friends listened to, and the songs that were our favorites, we knew all the words by heart. I don't think that young adults are any different now, in that respect.

Besides, if the artists really thought that none of their listeners were actually paying attention to the lyrics, then they might as well use milder language, instead of so many F words and B words and H words...

For your information, hip hop and rap artists DO contribute to political campaigns, and contribute to particular candidates, just as actors, actresses, and artists in other genres do.

For you to say that these artists have no social voice, and no influence over the attitudes of young people, is ludicrous.

jonas 10 years, 10 months ago

Young people don't vote. At least, not in any meaningfully large sample. At any rate, as long as we're all working with purely anecdotal evidence, then I would have to say that, anecdotally, the people who would get their primary influences from hip/hop and rap artists, or actors etc., are much less likely to vote than even other teens and young adults.

As for the rest, I wonder if at this point even YOU know what point you're actually trying to make, as you're juggling what looks like two to four separate, disparate things at once, as if they somehow support each other, which they don't.

Clearly, it's okay for a public speaker or a rap artist to use the term ho. Clearly, it's okay for the company of that public speaker to then fire them. I would assume the same can be said of the rap artist, but I would say it's much less likely to happen. So, by any meaningful measure, it's probably better for a public speaker to try and sound like something other than a rap artist.

"It's okay to refer to the entire female population as "hos", as long as you don't single out any particular females?"

Personally, I would like to know where you came up with this.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

I didn't say that hip hop and rap artists have contributed to increased prostitution...what hat did you draw that one out of??

They do, however, influence the ATTITUDES of young people toward each other. As such, the words they use are going to have an impact for many, many years.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

No, music isn't reality. Neither is TV. Neither are cartoons, or video games. Yet we hear all the time about how they are influencing kids and supposedly making them more violent.

So, is it true, or isn't it? If you believe that one form of entertainment influences how kids think and behave, then how can you say that one particular form of entertainment does not?

Creative license didn't hold much water for OJ when he tried to sell his book. EVERYONE thought that was in bad taste. If only we could get everyone to think the same way about calling young women, ANY young women, "hos". Ever.

No, Imus shouldn't have said it. He was wrong. He should have been punished for it, and when it began to affect their own pocketbooks, his employers did just that. . But if you believe that firing him was okay, because of what he said, then why don't you believe that hip hop artists who say the same things shouldn't also be fired?

Jonas...I have heard it said that what Imus said was worse, because he targeted a particular group of young women....whereas some hip hop artists say the same thing about just women in general...that's where that came from.

If music should be given creative license, Das, and if words used in songs are different than those used in public speaking, then would it be okay for a white artist to use the "n" word in a song?

Why or why not?

mom_of_three 10 years, 10 months ago

In response to a previous posting, I am very uncomfortable listening to anyone (comics, musicians, shows) using that type of language and degrading a part of the population. So my household doesn't listen to those songs, tv shows or comedians.
Obviously, part of the population doesn't mind those comments in music or comedy, and they continue to buy the records, etc. If they wish to listen to that type of music, then it is their choice, and I am not going to go "Tipper Gore" on them or the companies who promote the stuff.
But I think agnostick had it right. The right of free speech gives us the right to say what we want, but doesn't guarantee us the right to keep our jobs when we slander someone.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

The right of free speech gives us the right to say what we want. It doesn't make us immune to the natural consequences of what we choose to say.

Imus paid the natural consequences.

I just don't understand why so many still think it's okay for others to say those words.

It's not okay for ANYONE to use those words. Is that such a difficult concept to understand?

So why do we look the other way when other people say them, without any consequences at all? Saying it's "poetic license" or that "music is different" isn't a good enough excuse to me.

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