Sunday, April 15, 2007
It's a struggle for any first amendment proponent to deal with the firing of Don Imus following a public outcry in the wake of his sexist and racist ridicule of the Rutgers girls' basketball team. I, for one, fiercely defend the first amendment but despise Imus and all of his shock jock colleagues who foment racism, sexism and homophobia, appealing, with enormous success, to the basest not-so-closeted prejudices of their huge audience. I am delighted that he got fired. I hope it puts his colleagues on notice.
The fact that Imus is a philanthropist and exhibits decency in other areas of his public and private life is not a compensatory factor. Let him continue his good works in his spare time, of which he'll hopefully have plenty.
Imus had the misfortune of making his comments on the anniversary of MLK's assassination and in the run up to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's emergence into major league baseball. It proves that arrogance is its own reward, given enough time, and I have no sympathy for him or any other media maggot whose platform is built on insult.
We're not talking Lenny Bruce or Don Rickles here. We're not talking P.C.-policing.
There is a level beneath which public statements should not descend.
That is a terrifying statement and quite difficult to express because it flies in the face of free speech.
Different factions with different sensitivities or agendas are going to disagree on what is "going too far." I would rather experience material that offends my sensitivities than allow the definition of public standards to be decided by committee.
So who should decide?
In a capitalist country, it's an easy answer: Let the market decide. MSNBC and later CBS did not terminate Imus's show because of any innate integrity. They axed it because sponsors were pulling out. The sponsors weren't pulling out because of any high-minded principles. They withdrew because their customers voiced their objection. It may take time to catch up, but these kinds of shows live by the buck and die by the buck. And that seems to work just fine...eventually.
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