Monday, April 9, 2007

Perspective

Sometimes I find myself rising to the defense at least partially of something with which I basically disagree. Today is one of those times. I am referring to the furor over a remark made by Don Imus last week when referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team. I won’t repeat his comment here, but it had racist overtones albeit said in a typical Imus way.

For those who have watched or listened to Imus over the years he in many ways is a shock jock but not with the foul language of others but more with sarcasm and offensive (usually political) remarks. A lot of the nastier remarks are directed toward him by other cast members and guests. In short, he is not and never has been politically correct. It is part of his trademark and truthfully he is an equal opportunity offender – I don’t think there is one group he has not gone after in some offensive way over the years. In that I find him unique among others insofar as others go after one ideology or group regularly, for example Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, et al. Certainly they don’t spread their venom in an equal way.

And while his remark was insensitive, crude and insulting – it was part and parcel of his format – a remark intended as crude humor, and while wrong it was no different than many others made over the years by him and others. At the same time, does anyone look at and take notice of all the good done by Imus such as: raising money for the new state-of-the-art hospital in Texas for the wounded returning from Iraq and Afghanistan; the Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer, a totally non-profit ranch that gives children with an awful disease a chance to be kids and see that cancer isn’t the end, that they can still be kids, and do physical things like ride horses, compete in rodeos, etc.; campaigning and bringing to light real health issues that normally go under the radar if not actually ignored; and much more.

Others have made similar and worse remarks, and while I think Imus did not mean anything other than making a rather unthinking crude shock remark, others have really meant what they said, and have received a whole lot less attack. What about Rush and his comments (and crude acting) about Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s, or Ann Coulter calling John Edwards a faggot, or Coulter referring to Helen Thomas as an “old Arab” who should not be allowed within yards of the President, or how about Bill O’Reilly (there are SO many here) when referring to a minority singing group being late saying he hoped they weren’t out in the parking lot stealing hubcaps, and many slurs referring to groups using racist terms, like wetbacks for Mexicans, etc.

Imus has issued several on-air apologies, and being a listener of many years I am prepared to accept his sincerity particularly in light of what I have seen of his actions in so many arenas that are responsible and positive. In addition he is going to Rutgers to apologize in person to the women on the team he insulted. Certainly others have apologized for incautious remarks but the sincerity was lacking in many if not most of those apologies. No, sorry doesn’t make it all better or right, but remorse is not a bad thing if it is real.

And yeah, I need to get politics in here too. While Imus and many others have made remarks that were wrong and insulting, listeners have a choice, they can turn his show off… Troops in Iraq can’t turn off Bush or their orders to march into harm’s way without adequate training or equipment, sooner than expected without the rest needed. Maybe the analogy here is “sticks and stones will break my bones, etc.” – I do not think there is a person out there who has not made a remark that was incautious or insensitive or insulting to someone. My grandmother used to say “when the words are in your mouth they are yours alone, once they are spoken they belong to everyone whether or not you wanted them heard.” Maybe we all need to take a chill pill and look at what really matters in the world. Would Al Sharpton been as vocal about this if the remark were anti-Semitic, anti-gay, et al?

All those who are so vocally attacking this, perhaps they need to go back to the words of someone they all claim to revere and respect, even hope to emulate and remember His words to not cast stones unless they themselves are without sin.

There is so much out there that really needs attention, outrage, and action. I cannot believe this rises to the level of those.

6 comments:

ross said...

Amen, Sistah Girl!

I don't listen to Imus (or any "schlock jock" or any on air screamers, for that matter), and I know how to change the stations on my radio and TV (and do, often) and I have never...in my many painful decades (ok, well, only five) on this Planet, why the hell other people can't figure this out, either?

Do people tune into Imus to hear church chants? NooooooooooOOOOOOO.

Do people go for stunning philosophical analyses, groundbreaking journalism, mind-opening science and spirituality?

No, they listen to CRAP radio, because, well, they feel like listening to crap.

sorry, it's (commercial radio) not a "public service", it's never been used to inform or enlighten, it's just pure mainstream 'high fructose corn syrup' for Joe Sixpack. That's exactly why MILLIONS of people like it. It's *designed* that way.

(pausing to take a breath)

So...if someone doesn't like it, turn it off. And if you REALLY don't like it, never turn it back on again. The advertisers will figure it out soon enough (besides, they don't care either: they are just there to make a buck on Joe Sixpack as he slurps cognitive High Fructose Corn Syrup.)

Last thought -- I don't agree with his comments...apparently the b-ball player involved are not only good ball players, but great students and young people as well. they don't deserve this (but I bet they can take it, and not lose a stride).

Aren't there bigger things to worry about?

EvilChime said...

You are so correct... it always amazes me that people don't bother to use their working appendages to turn off what they don't want to hear. I do listen to Imus - his show while frequently crude in its humor has some very good aspects including the guests, the books they highlight, the public health issues, etc. No I don't like all of it, but I think there is a lot of overreaction here - the air time it is getting is making Rove smile because it is knocking off Gonzo Gate from the front pages among other substantive problems and real world problems.
My other issue with this whole thing is the whole entity (Imus) is not being taken into account only the one (of many admittedly offending remarks) comment - I would like to see if some of the critics could stand up to the same scrutiny or demonstrate the same body of good done over the years with his media platform - case in point the charity telethon going on tomorrow and Friday.

marybishop said...

Usually I know exactly what I feel on every issue, but for some reason I am struggling with this one. For me the word in question is HO which is now used frequently as a synomym for woman. I am sick and tired of that word because there is no equal word for man. If there were, maybe I wouldn't mind it so much.

I never thought Imus should have squatted on MSNBC as I found looking at him a problem and truly, only watched when I knew a politician of note would be on.

And politicians of note flocked to his show, toadying up to the I-man as they sought a public and popular venue in which to chat.

I was mad at Dodd when he went to Imus to talk about his presidency...how could the politicians have not noticed the foul words coming from Imus' mouth?

Heck, it's just Imus and that's how he is, everyone knows that.

I guess that's how they felt.

(Lieberman still supports him and said he'd go back on the show. What if HO meant orthodox Jew, would Lieberman still think Imus is just being Imus?)

I've been so turned off by this man for so long, I think he'd never get off TV without a "tipping moment" --when someone says enough is enough.

When the advertisers dropped the show, money took his job away, not anything he said. And that's a form of censorship I don't mind, advertisers put him there and advertisers took him away.

He can still continue with his puerile patois, only now he'll only have his radio listeners or perhaps he'll go to pay tv or pay radio to grunt his geriatric theatrics, but he won't be on a so-called real news station.

I like him out of that spot.

Still, I always get the creeps when I think of censorship so I'm conflicted and not so damn sure of myself as I usually am.

EC - you have me thinking hard on this one.

EvilChime said...

Hi Mary... I can surely relate to what you feel because it is so in line with my conflict on the deed. Re Lieberman, truth is Imus is/was an equal opportunity offender and frequently made slurs against Jews among others. No I did not like his patois at the same time it was part and parcel of a culture that hopefully is disappearing but was very prevalent when he started and was in his hey day - that does not excuse it, merely explains it somewhat.
My issues here are many - that the whole person is not taken into account and the good things that are done by him aided by the media venue he has/had, even though his banter has a less than savory tone; the fact that an apology and what appears to be a sincere desire to change are not accepted as such perhaps with a probationary period to prove it; the fact that I heard one "reverend" say this morning that it was not the right words in the apology he should have said something else [sigh]; and the hypocrisy of some who he supported and who took his support aware of what he said and what the show format was - they listened and were on his show yet are now turning away or condemning him (Harold Ford Jr. is one who immediately springs to mind). People who claim to be religious (witness all the reverends involved) are not following the principle as I understand the words "hate the sin love the sinner".
I am also bothered by the two-faced forked tongue speechifying of many who should be condemned themselves for things coming off all holier than thou - and refusing to explain their faux pas (Hymietown? Tawanna Brawley?) but can condemn an offhand albeit in very poor taste comment.
And lest we should forget the Michael Savages, Rush Limbaughs, Bill O'Reillys, Ann Coulter's etc. of this world who make comments and get a pass!!!!!
Yes, Imus was wrong in what he said, yes he deserved some suspension or probation for it - no he doesn't deserve the public flogging and so on he has received - certainly not when others who are at least equally as guilty if not more so don't get treated the same way.

marybishop said...

And now I just heard he's been fired from his radio show!

EvilChime said...

Yup, that he has, but I understand now that Dierdre Imus and Charles McCord are going to be hosting it tomorrow - they have to get the radiothon done, and after all they fired him as far as I know, not his whole ensemble. This could be interesting - Ilanna felt the execs are all pantywaist cowards.... that about makes it in my mind!
And the "reverends" got what they wanted - who says they don't have power...