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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bad signs

This is my last word on Don Imus.

I'm bummed out that MSNBC was gutless and fair weather and ditched him. And I'm not saying this because I'm a fan.

Like I said in the last post, I think Imus is a doddering old fool who has said a lot of mean stuff for a lot of years. But that's the point of my disgust. No one's had a problem with him before now, before this became the popular issue of the day - or should I say the popular issue of the first and second weeks of April, 2007.

Suddenly, he's an awful man because of a mean, racist comment about some young women and their appearance? Where were the NBC execs last year, and the year before, and so on and so forth? They were counting up the $20-plus million a year he was earning them in advertising revenue.

You can't give someone a pass on their bad habit for decades and then tell them suddenly you can't deal with them anymore, because of that behavior. Folks in the South and some religious types refer to a "come to Jesus moment." It's the moral equivalent of a golf mulligan.

If you have not been seriously warned before about your behavior, then that first time you do get a serious, significant warning, you should get a "come to Jesus moment" so you can try to make things right. Even Jesus himself would have granted as much when he walked the earth.

Even more important though is the fact that this won't stop with Imus. Jon Stewart, Carlos Mencia, Nick Cannon, and any other squirrels who cash in over the airwaves on a mix of comedy, brutal commentary and real news events had better hoard their nuts, 'cause it's gonna be a cold winter.

Be careful what and who you joke about, even if you think you spread your humor (or venom, depending on who's judging it) evenly. I for one am considering no longer teasing my buddies with any slang or nicknames that suggest they're weak when they express fear of their girlfriends or wives, 'cause I don't want to be accused of being anti-softy.

And if Imus' words were the the be all and end all of atrociousness, why is it that the TV commentators repeated those words over and over and over and over as they critiqued him? Notice when they're discussing something like the N-word, for example, they refer to it just like that - as "the N-word." They don't dare repeat that word, 'cause they really believe it is bad. This stuff Imus said? They repeat it verbatim 'cause this whole thing was a game for most of them.

Once again, Don Imus was wrong. His statement, like many he's aimed in the past at all sorts of ethnic and cultural groups, was bad on multiple levels. But the hypocrites at NBC and at CBS radio who let him be that way for years and then dumped him (so far only NBC, not CBS radio, has dumped him) once the advertisers ran away were also bad. And so were the hypocritical advertisers who didn't mind his stupid comments until the witch hunt started. And so are the pseudo-clergy who make money off of declaring themselves the moral compass for an entire race and yet refuse to take to task the record executives who produce albums about that race for clueless artists with much worse content on them than anything Imus ever said.

Shame, shame on the whole lot of 'em.



  • James,

    Good points here but I don't blame the advertisers here one bit. Advertisers are w/o ethics or morals. They're like water that fills in the holes and crevices where they are.... The real people driving Imus out of the marketplace of ideas were the journalists (themselves concerned w/ advertising and ratings), pundits and politicians.

    I don't know if we disagree here on free speech issues but on another point I don't appreciate how everyone has been telling these Rutgers women they're victims--again and again.

    Lou Dobbs made a good, if self-congratulatory point, when he said that more good than bad would come of this b/c the nation was introduced to some people who far from being nappy-headed hos are some real winners.

    Anyway, I despise the victimhood. Why don't they just give that old b*tch a good WHATEVER!?


    By Blogger Matt, at 3:59 PM  

  • Furthermore, I resent anyone who would dare abrogate my American right to free speech by telling me I cannot use the N-word.

    I CHOOSE not to use it b/c I want black people to like me. That is why.

    By Blogger Matt, at 4:00 PM  

  • Here's the good side to the dumb story.

    The women's basketball teams are getting alot of publicity.

    Go Women's Basketball!!!!

    By Blogger Pamela, at 4:32 PM  

  • I agree with you. I just wonder why nobody seem all bent out of shape about the other shock-jocks out there who are just as bad. Could it be that it is only about Imus, and what he said just provided the excuse to get him?

    By Blogger Betty, at 4:49 PM  

  • Matt, you raise good points. I'd say we are in agreement or close to it on freedom of speech. I want everyone to say whatever they want, as long as it's not irresponsible (as in yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater or muttering "bomb" on an airplane). But people should know just because they have the right to say whatever, there may be ramifications, like you could get ostracized by the general public. A perfect example would be that you could walk around saying the N-word if you wanted, but you might risk getting the crap kicked out of you by someone not so conscious of the Bill of Rights as me. Or on a more academic level, you could find yourself shunned by professional colleagues and employers because of the distasteful nature/histor/etc. of the word. So knock yourself out. Speak it if you wish. Just know that "freedom" ain't without a price.

    Pamela, that is a good thing - that these smart young women are getting some exposure too.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:00 PM  

  • Betty, very good question. Wouldn't surprise me.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:35 PM  

  • Well, I kinda thought maybe MSNBC dropping the simulcast and him keeping his radio show might work out to be a good compromise. But, I guess not.

    Just remember. They didn't fire him for what he said. They fired him because of the advertisers jumping ship. They didn't really care about what he said. They DO care about the money.

    Of course, it didn't help Imus that it wasn't easy to defend him. I mean, he does have this long history of these types of remarks. This wasn't a "one time thing" or "just a little joke" or anything like that.

    But, I would expect Imus to end up with a new show on satellite radio. He'll be fine.

    By Blogger Jay, at 6:54 PM  

  • "Suddenly, he's an awful man because of a mean, racist comment about some young women and their appearance?"

    No, he was always an awful man. But I think that a shock-jock gets a different amount of attention depending on who's listening to the radio at the time he's talking, and what they do with the information he's offering.

    ps: Thanx for the comment on my blog! You know I value your opinion.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 7:02 PM  

  • I agree with Betty. I think that they were looking for a reason to dump him and this was prime. Who knows what's been going on behind the scenes?

    By Blogger Claudia, at 7:42 PM  

  • I don't think anything he said deserves defense, though.

    Also, though I definitely understand the issues of misogyny and double-standard within the black community itself, I don't think that the whole "black people do it, so what do you expect" argument is necessarily a smart one to be made. Yes, there are major issues of misogyny and shadism that go largely unaddressed in the music industry, and that many of these issues are raised by men of color. But this doesn't change the fact that this guy made a CHOICE to use this language. He's not a woman or a person of color - it know it's hard for many white folks, (men, in particular, who are used to being taken seriously even when they make no sense - George W. Bush) to think that they can't say anything they want. Too effing bad. I can't say "fa&&%t", and I'm fine with that. It's too bad that a word like that has the history it does, and I didn't make that history, but I am part of the current society that was shaped by that history. So - giving up the right to joke or use words that have been historically painful to a group of people is something I'm willing to do.

    I don't care if he got fired or not, because I don't listen to his stupid show. But I'm not sorry he got fired, either...

    By Blogger bc, at 8:18 PM  

  • Again, well said. But my ears also perk up whenever I hear African American women comment on this: they're quick to point out that this wasn't just a racial thing (though that would've been bad enough). But it was chauvinist as well. But as I believe you mentioned in your last Imus post, that language has been used and over-used in music the past several years.

    The more I think about it, the sicker it makes me.

    So, yeah, what Imus said was awful and stupid, but it's not the first time he or anyone else has spouted hateful, demeaning comments.

    But why, as a society, are we so quick to throw a small band-aid on a gaping wound?

    There's more here than meets the eye. So we'll "quell" this situation, though all the while the language -- the stereotypes -- will flourish with nary a thought to their greater social implications.

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 11:47 AM  

  • I agree with Jay. He wasn't fired for being a misogynistic bigot. He was fired because he became a financial liability.

    By the way, according to the snippet I heard on the news, his colleague called them a derogatory name first, then Imus added the adjective to it. Why wasn't that guy included in the uproar? People's true colors will come out eventually, and as you said before, I'm glad I don't have to wonder whether he's an idiot. He's proven it.

    By Blogger katrice, at 2:47 PM  

  • Yep they're cowards for firing him, but it's a commercial media. If I talked like that in front of my students I might get fired. He's looser, but I hate to see the shouters and protesters win one and think that they can do this elsewhere . There is such a thing as free speech, supposedly. If he'd said it about Condoleezza Rice, would he have been fired? Politics. He went after college kids. What an asshole.

    By Blogger Fathairybastard, at 5:57 PM  

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