April 11, 2007

“Nappy-headed hos”, the off-hand comment made by morning radio shock-jock Don Imus about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, has landed him in a lot of hot water, and well it should.

While on the surface this controversy would appear to be just the latest example of the increasingly vulgar and coarse direction both our society and culture have taken – a direction, BTW, morning talk radio has always seemed all to willing to lead, I think there’s something more at play here then simply an ugly, racially-insensitive and inflammatory remark by someone who finally crossed a line he’d been dancing ever so closely to for years.

First of all, pay no attention to the criticisms of the Jessie “Hymietown” Jacksons and Al “Tawana Brawley” Sharptons, self-appointed “voices of conscience” of the African-American community. These self-serving, insufferable, and hypocritical buffoons never met a TV camera they didn’t like or a race card they weren’t more than willing to play, no matter their own dubious backgrounds in these matters.

And pay no attention to the talk radio personalities of the left, right, and purely obnoxious, whose own support or condemnations of Imus’ remarks are played out against a sickening backdrop of crude contests, controversial stunts, and ill-advised remarks (whether intended or not), all of which place them firmly in the “there but the grace of God go I” theater of operation.

No, what to pay attention to here is the fact that someone as popular and as “big” in radio as Imus – no matter what his political stripes may appear to be – is taking the fall here, and that in and of itself is notable. Jim Rome, the nationally-syndicated sports talk jock, I think, said it best earlier today when he mentioned that all the attention being paid to Imus’ remarks reflects a PC landscape that is far different today than it was as little as five years ago. And he’s right. Now I’m no fan of political correctness by any stretch of the imagination, but I think in this case it is appropriate for Imus to be punished, and his reputation forever stained, by his remarks.

Simply put – and controversial conservative bomb-thrower Ann Coulter found this out weeks ago – the days of using offensive language and generalities to characterize any group of people simply for who or what they are for the purposes of entertainment effect are over. The ACLU can talk all it wants about free speech, but there is such a thing as poor taste, there is such a thing as offensive speech, and there is such a thing as bad behavior, and in today’s culture, where practically everything – including sports, politics, and, yes, even business – seems to have its foot in the entertainment industry in some way, competition for buyer or “brand” loyalty, advertisers, and consumer dollars is fierce, and missteps such as those by Imus will increasingly be no longer tolerated. Don’t believe me? Ask Pacman Jones and Chris Henry.

I’d like to think our culture is finally reaching a point of offensive and crude saturation where even the most vocal supporters of free speech realize the damage these kinds of offensive generalities have on the fabric that holds civil society together. But more likely, it will be the fear of losing audience, market share, and, in the end, the almighty buck that forces the entertainment industry to police itself more effectively. Either way, whether it’s through means that are either purely altuistic or purely selfish, one can only hope that the recent remarks by the likes of Imus and Coulter are one day looked upon as the last vestiges of a culture once warped and enslaved by its own harshness, coarseness, and vulgarity.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:04 | Comments (3)

    Comment by Steve — April 11, 2007 @ 4:25 pm

  2. Imus was an idiot before this, and he’s still one. Doesn’t mean he should be fired. Leave him on the air so everyone can hear what a dolt he is.

    And the best take I saw on this was by Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star. I think he has a better focus on the real issue.


    Comment by Goose — April 12, 2007 @ 10:40 am

  3. You’re right Goose, the core issue here isn’t really Imus – like you said, once a dolt, always a dolt. The real issue here is hypocrisy, an art form that Imus’ critics all across the landscape – most especially, those insufferable blowhards Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton – seem to have perfected.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — April 12, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

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