Imus? What mus’ I do?

I haven’t been keeping up with the Don Imus scandal. What he said was insensitive, sexist, and racist, and I imagine it was just an old man’s desperate attempt to remain funny and relevant.

However, I think this has been blown way out of proportion by the media and the oversensitive, easily-outraged crowd. Imus is a shock jock, he has a rivalry with Howard Stern, he says things to get a rise out of people, it’s why people listen to his show. “Shock jock says something offensive” is not news, it’s a job description.

I don’t listen to shock jocks; they don’t amuse or entertain me. I’ve seen Howard Stern and Mancow off-air, and both seem like intelligent guys with decent viewpoints. Their on-air personae, however, are obnoxious and inane. I’m not real familiar with Imus, except that he and Stern are often compared to each other.

So, I support his right to say shocking stuff on the air. I support the right of others to call him a racist for it, and hell, I even support the right of his employer to fire him for it (to some degree–if he’s said similar stuff in the past with no warnings or backlash, then he would have had a reasonable expectation that such speech was acceptable and endorsed by CBS). After all, if I’m going to tell people that if they don’t like listening to a shock jock, then they should change the channel, then I should tell shock jocks that if they don’t like their employer’s rules, they should find a new employer. And I’m sure Imus will find a new employer, just like Stern did when the same thing happened to him.

My problem with all of this is, if radio stations are going to fire a shock jock for saying “nappy-headed ho’s,” then why won’t radio stations and news channels fire political pundits for saying far worse?

  • Glenn Beck has repeatedly called Rosie O’Donnell a “fat witch,” he’s called Hillary Clinton a “stereotypical bitch,” he expressed a desire to kill Michael Moore with his bare hands, he asked Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison if he was “working with our enemies” (you’re a Mormon, Glenn, are you kidnapping and marrying teenage girls?), and he’s made similarly deplorable remarks about Muslims, illegal Mexican immigrants, Egyptians, Nigerians, 9/11 victims, and the blind, yet his dopey, doughy mug is still on CNN Headline News whenever I turn to it. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the firing?
  • Bill O’Reilly, besides the loofah incident, has favorably compared the U.S. soldiers to Nazis, and has expressed the usual disdain for women, Muslims, illegal immigrants, homosexuals, kidnapping and molestation victim Shawn Hornbeck, rape and murder victim Jennifer Moore, the “drug-addicted” “thugs” who were caught in New Orleans after the hurricane, and did I mention women? Where’s the outrage? Where’s the firing?
  • Rush Limbaugh (quotations from Media Matters): “since Obama has — on his mother’s side — forebears of his mother had slaves, could we not say that if Obama wins the Democratic nomination and then wins the presidency, he will own Al Sharpton?”
    “[B]lacks can’t swim.”
    Sang “Barack, the Magic Negro” (but didn’t coin the term–fuck you, Rush. “Drive-by media” my ass).
    “Women still live longer than men because their lives are easier.”
    And so on. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the firing?

There’s an insane double-standard here. Imus had a show as an outlet to say outrageous, insensitive, offensive things. Beck and O’Reilly are on news stations to talk about politics. Limbaugh is on radio stations to talk about politics. Why is it that when a political commentator, even on a supposedly respectable news station like CNN, says something stupid and outrageous, he gets to keep his job, while when a shock jock says something stupid and outrageous, he loses his?

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2 Responses to Imus? What mus’ I do?

  1. Jon says:

    I think the lesson here isn’t that media heads and advertisers favor conservative voices (it does, but anyone who’s seen Faux News already knows that). But political speech has always been somewhat sacrosanct, whereas the threshold for offensive speech as entertainment has always been lower. The lesson here, is intead how indistinguishable the politics of the Republican Party and their proxies has become to racist speech. I think there’s also something to be said for expectation. Look at the differing reactions to Mel Gibson and Michael Richards. Richards got a lot more hell than Gibson, and I don’t think it was really a result of what they said; Gibson’s rant taken as a whole is just as shocking as Richard’s use of the “n-word”, if not more so. But an anti-semetic rant from Gibson was less of a surprise than it was a confirmation of what people had already believed about him. For Michael Richards, there was no such forewarning, (what do people really know about him except that he was Kramer?) his racism caught more people by surprise, cause a larger reaction. In Don Imus’ case, people familiar with the shock jock routine expect offensive humor; it’s something they are willing to overlook so long as it’s funny. These comments, however, were notoriously unfunny, which just left it in the realm of offensive. For assholes like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, I think people exepct to hear something deplorable. That’s certianly the case with Ann Coulter. Some might consider this a whitewash of conservative pundits, but to me, it’s an even greater indictment of Republicans who allow these people to represent them. Keep in mind, today’s Republican Party is ostensibly not racist, and they claim that Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, et.al are not racist, just “politically incorrect”. But if they tune in with the expectation of hearing something offensive, than these aren’t innocent “political thoughts” but rather red meat for closet racism.

  2. Don’t forget Michael “Savage” Weiner; he’s not only a blowhard squawk-hole, he also has delusions of possibly running for president.And he’s said some foul shit, even by neo-con celebrity standards; that whole “get AIDS and die” riff he went on after asking a caller “Are you a sodomite?” stands out. To put him into perspective, I’ve got numerous family members and a few good friends who readily identify themselves as conservatives; yet, all of them (even the crazier ones) agree that “Savage” is a bitter, pathetic, disgusting son of a bitch.

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