The Inevitable Imus PostOmnipotent Mea Culpa: There were some problems with the information I supplied in Sunday's post about energy policy. To get the lowdown and my apologies, stop by this post at Bring It On. Now, on to today's post.
Don Imus is another in a long line of knot headed celebrities who've put their own well-paid backsides in a sling. They exercised their First Amendment rights, while completely ignoring the accompanying responsibility to refrain from saying something terminally stupid.
Critics of the I-Man - where "I" apparently stands for "Idiot" - have every right to be incensed and call for his head. What he said was rude and boorish and there is no excuse for a national radio personality not to know that, especially when he's said similarly distasteful things before.
A Fit Punishment
Although he's apologized profusely, the offended haven't accepted. In response, MSNBC cast him adrift altogether and CBS radio suspended him for two weeks. Pressure on advertisers may soon cause CBS to revisit that decision and Imus might find himself back on his ranch without a place to hang his ridiculous cowboy hat (Bush reference not intended).
Does the punishment fit the crime?
That's a subjective call based on how offended you are, Imus's recidivism problems, and how you view race issues. There is no single "right" punishment, only one the protesters, his advertisers, and employers hash out in the national arena. If it's clear the market will shun him, CBS will make the hard call. At a certain level, it's like a racial dispute incident at any company. Only the stakes are higher. Do you fire a nimrod over their indiscretions or work out some sort of monitoring process to evaluate the sincerity of their apologies? At the end of the day the question is, "is it more expensive to give them another chance, or less expensive to cut them loose."
Al and Jesse Leading the Charge
Imus ultimately deserves what he gets. He was monumentally stupid and I can't fault those offended. However, I'd prefer that someone other than Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson lead the charge.
Sharpton burst onto the national scene by vociferously calling for white heads over the claims of Tawana Brawley - a 15-year old black woman who charged she was raped by six white men. After months of framing it as a race issue, a Grand Jury found no evidence of the crime. In view of his current righteousness, Sharpton was conspicuously silent about the erroneous shit-storm he stirred up. His apology wasn't accepted, because he never offered one.
Sharpton and Jackson both jumped on the Duke lacrosse player bandwagon, convicting the accused white men in public before the court did it's job. Again, after months of jawing about racism, the case was dropped Wednesday after large holes appeared in the accuser's story. However, the Duke boys shouldn't expect a mea culpa from either of them any time soon.
Jesse had a moment of racial insensitivity too - one arguably worse than the one Imus brought on himself. In 1984, he referred to Jews as "hymies" and New York as "hymietown" - slurs every bit as repugnant as "nappy-headed hoes". He - like Imus - apologized profusely, but only after claiming it never happened, accusing Jews of being out to get him, and refusing to denounce his ally Louis Farrakhan after he threatened Jews with, "If you harm this brother [Jackson], it will be the last one you harm."
Imus Doesn't Deserve a Pass
To say Imus should get a pass because Sharpton and Jackson displayed similarly oafish behavior isn't right. It also isn't right that whites commit racially charged acts and try to prevaricate themselves free. Nor is it right that people of all colors look away sheepishly when events like these occur.
There will be no lasting progress in healing the country's racial wounds until those throwing the stones look at their own glass houses. Sharpton and Jackson should know that.
After all, they still have jobs preaching what they don't practice and I believe God might have a bone to pick on that score.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, April 11, 2007