Joe asked for an Imus post, so ...
posted 2007/04/13 at 15:38

Originally I hadn't planned on saying anything about the whole Don Imus uproar on here. For one thing, I don't think I'd ever heard more than ten minutes or so of Imus' broadcasting in my entire life; I've never been much of a morning person or a radio person for that matter, and the only reason I know what I know about Howard Stern's broadcasting is because I used to watch the tapes of his show on E! back when there was basically nothing else to watch on Toledo basic cable. I know that Imus caused an uproar when he said some real stupid stuff when he was the main attraction at one of the White House Correspondents Dinners back in the Clinton administration -- that was the biggest uproar I can remember coming from one of those dinners until Stephen Colbert put everyone in DC in their place last year -- and if you'd come to me a couple of weeks ago and said that Imus referred to a group of African-American women as "nappy-headed hos," I probably would have assumed it was just a normal part of his act on the radio.

I think Keith Olbermann did a good job on Countdown last night in pointing out all the other right-wing flame-throwers who have said things equally as bad, or worse, about African-Americans on the radio. This article (Reuters via Yahoo! News) recounts all of the examples Olbermann brought up, and it also examines how this incident might potentially change the face of talk radio. Here's what gets me, though. A couple of weeks ago Olbermann awarded his "Worst Person in the World" gold to Glenn Beck, and rightfully so, for dismissing Rosie O'Donnell's recent political opining by calling her a "fatso." However, anyone who watches Countdown on a regular basis probably recalled that several weeks before that, Olbermann had called Fox News chief Roger Ailes a "fatass" in an uncharacteristically juvenile blurt in the middle of a story. To be fair, Olbermann owned up to his blatant hypocrisy the following night, apologized to Ailes, and even gave himself a "Worst Person" award, but where was the outrage when Olbermann (or Beck, for that matter) used these slurs against people of size?

I don't want to sound like I'm trying to diminish how appalling Imus' slur was, because it was a hideous remark and there's no doubt in my mind that Imus deserves all the flack he's taken for it. I'm just wondering why this remark, in particular, generated all of this press and outrage, and not, say, Neal Boortz calling an African-American congresswoman a "ghetto slut." Why would prominent African-American leaders like the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton raise such a furor over one remark and not the other? Did they, in fact, raise an equal furor over Boortz's slur, and the only reason the Imus coverage has been front-page material for so long is because the big media/news conglomerates decided that this story was more headline-worthy for whatever reason?

I'm still puzzling that aspect of the Imus story in my mind. Another thing that worries me is the discussion at the end of that Reuters article about how people like Rush Limbaugh won't have to worry about changing in the face of this uproar because people like them are expected to throw out callous, insensitive insults and slurs like that. Excuse me, but exactly why should it be okay for people like Limbaugh -- on the left or the right -- to make a living off that kind of crap? Why should acting, for lack of a better phrase, like an asshole, make it all right to perpetuate this kind of misanthropic garbage? Shouldn't the fact that people like Limbaugh rely on that sort of stuff make them bigger targets for people's scorn? This makes it sound like our culture is sanctioning a class of people whose purpose in our society is to slur minority groups, and if we are doing that, is it any wonder that our society continues to be as bleak and antagonistic as it is?

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