Friday, April 13, 2007


I swore to myself at the end of last week I was not going to devote a post to Imus, but I guess I will.

Reading a bunch of email lists and blogs, a lot of people I respect are pretty upset about what happened to him.

I am not. And I ask myself- why?

Well, to begin with, and of the most importance, I do not view this as a freedom of speech issue. Freedom of speech is threatend when the government takes action against somebody, but in this case they never even peeped. This, by the way, is the same government which decided that, even though they are the "public" airwaves, we did not need the Fairness Doctrine. And after deciding that, they went Uber-Ballisticon over a woman's breast being shown for a quarter-second at the SuperDooperBowl.

So I looked and asked "is the FCC doing anything?" and the answer was "no". OK, so it's not a Freedom of Speech issue.

Or is it? Well, there were plenty of people calling for Imus to be punished. But isn't that their right, as a matter of freedom of speech? Not to make too big a point of it, but isn't freedom of speech the right to say what you think, not matter how hypocritical you are?

Hypocritical? you ask. Well, there is the Jessie "Hymietown" Jackson issue...

Many people I respect made a big deal out of the fact that Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson was amongst the biggest Imus critics. Well, ok, but I'm not a big fan of the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" doctrine. Hey- Osama Bin Laden didn't think much of Saddam Hussein. What's it all mean?

My thinking is that Imus made a career, and Big Bucks, out of being an asshole. He finally went too far and got burned with his own torch. I'm not sure why I should weep for that. Just because I would defend his *right* to say whatever he wanted against any government claim to the contrary, does *not* mean that I am a defender of what he says. It also does not mean that I will defend him to his advertisers. Hey- I think he's a jerk. If one of his advertisrers asked me -"would you be inclined to avoid a product because it sponsored Imus", I 'd be proud to say "YES".

That is because *I* have a right to freedom of speech also, and because I know that advertisers can pick and choose who they sponsor.

I would not buy a product that sponsored Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, or Don Imus. They are all, in my own mind, sponsors of hate and abuse. And if that affects their respective career paths, that's too damned bad. It's a free country.


Mike said...

I have struggled with this a lot too. I liked Imus's MSNBC program because the vast majority of it was devoted to ripping politicians new A-holes and some pretty good music from time to time. There were those juvenile Howard Stern-esque moments that got on my nerves, but all in all the show was mostly entertaining.

The problem I am having with all of this is that somehow it seems okay for one segment of our society to regularly denigrate women and use the N-word as if it is a good thing, but if another segment of our society uses anything that can be even remotely construed as racist, then the crap is going to hit the fan.

When my oldest daughter was about 4 years old we were watching an episode of The Jeffersons. My daughter had never heard the N-word before. On that episode George was throwing the N-word around like it was nothing and my daughter turned to me and asked me what a N was.

The point of that story is that racist words have impact no matter who says them.

Hypocrisy really is the enemy here. Imus probably did deserve to get fired, but I want the same standards applied to the music and entertainment industries. EVERYBODY needs to stop using those words. Not just mean old white men.

catalyst said...

I'm afraid I agree with Mike, as I blogged tonight before I read your post, Colonel. As someone said today, Imus was a skillful and intelligent interviewer on his show. But he also used part, and only part, of his show for his silly shock jock comments.

But there are others who are much more guilty of racism than Imus.

Colonel Colonel said...

Mike & Catalyst- ok, that's fair. But my thinking is that just because somebody else is doing it too, that does not make it right.

As for hyypocrisy, it is certainly an enemy, but for me it is not really the point in this story. There are certainly hypocrites out there who are criticizing Imus. I'm not going to let them change my mind for me, as to how I feel about what Imus said -after all, they're just a pair of hypocrites.

Phoebe Fay said...

I'm with the Colonel on this.

For one thing, Imus had decades of experience with radio and media and he's made a fortune off knowing how to work it. He certainly had enough experience to know where the lines are and know he was treading on them. He's hardly an innocent.

Second, the "they're doing it, too" argument is always weak. I'd love to see everybody face consequences for saying nasty things. I have no problem with it starting with Imus, and I can hope it doesn't end there.

Too many people confuse "freedom of speech" with "freedom from the consequences of speech." Don't work that way, kiddos.

Joey Polanski said...

I aint nevr been a Don Imus fan. Im much MORE a fan of Al Sharpton. (No joke! Id love NOTHIN more than t see th Revrend Al in th Dem debates -- cause THATs where th FUN is!)

What got me about this whole story is what got me about th whole clamor ovr "th Dean Scream" back in 2000. Th reacktion was WAYyy out o proportion precisely because the outrage was almost ENTIRELY genrated (and was certainly fannd & sustaind) by th "news" media!

In othr words, I found a little too much of th "outrage" to be a little too phony. This was more a frenzy fer "face time" on th parts o many fokes who like to pracktice "activism fer activisms sake" -- takin on relatively trivial mattrs where there seems a easy victory in th offing.

Speakin as a progressive myself, this is EXACKLY what gives activism a BAD name.

Colonel Colonel said...

Joey- I agree. I heard somebody yesterday saying that what got Imus in the end is the new 24-hour News Cycle. I think that makes sense. It isn't that some people do not always get outraged at [fill in blank], it's that these days their outrage becomes magnified by 24-hour cable news, You-Tube, blogs, and everything else. Both Dean and Imus fell victim to that rolling wave of constant "News" which just builds on itself.

Joey Polanski said...

Th Dean thing STILL pisses me off.

Theres no way in th world he WOUDNT a-beat GWB in 2004.