I know I’m a little late to the party here, but I don’t think Don Imus should have been fired for his comments. Yes, they were racist, and he knew it when he said it. But, he also came out and apologized and said he would change, and the team stated that they forgave him. That should have been enough. He could have been suspended without pay for a month to think about it, but then he should have been able to come back and see if he learned from his mistakes.
For those abroad, or for those living under a rock in the US, Imus is a radio personality with a show that was simulcast on MSNBC. He’s a 66 year-old codger who has been doing this most of his life. He’s well known in New York but not so much elsewhere. When talking about the Rutgers woman’s basketball team, he referred to them as “nappy headed ho’s.” This of course offended ethnic groups who mobilized and called for his dismissal.
Granted, what he said was distasteful and racially demeaning, but I think firing him for it sets a very scary precedent for free speech in America. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I feel free speech should be absolute, no matter how much we might disagree with the vile nature of what is being said.
In a normal day of Imus’ broadcasts, none of those women would have ever even known about the comment, and many of the listeners, while mildly offended would have shook their head, thought he was a sad old codger and moved on. Some of them may have changed the channel and some may have complained. The reason this got blown up to such a ridiculous level is because there are now groups that listen to every radio and TV program and complain about anything THEY find objectionable.
Yes, there are people whose sole job in this world is to listen to and transcribe what people say on a radio show specifically for the purpose to complain about it. These are not people who would ever actually listen to the show themselves, they aren’t the target audience.
And these groups take these comments and whip up a media firestorm around them. They get leaders to denounce it and all of a sudden an off-color joke that failed becomes front page news. This DOMINATED our headlines here last week. It was the lead news story on TV news. The media created this issue where none existed. Aren’t we in a war? Didn’t the supposedly safe green zone get bombed this week? This is news?
All of a sudden the Rutgers basketball team has to set up press conferences to respond. They claim that their spotlight and time to shine for what they did in their sport was diminished. Well the reason it was diminished was because of these watchdog groups and the media. They both seized on the opportunity and ran full bore with pitchforks waving.
They silenced Imus, who will they go after next? Where will it end? Or will it just end in no one ever saying anything that might cause any issues. I don’t like that, it’s stifling to me. Having an honest discussion about race in these situations is what will help. Simply silencing anyone whose speech you cannot stand does nothing to further debate. All it does is get your face in front of cameras.