Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus Firing May Create a Slippery Slope

Today Don Imus, who unless you've been under a rock, you know has been at the center of a media storm involving the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers basketball team and some comments he made to his producer at "Imus in the Morning," was fired.

Imus made the statements before Easter weekend and there was a small groundswell, but it wasn't until he appeared on Al Sharpton's radio program that a louder voice was heard. By the end of the show, Imus and his words were everywhere and everyone was talking.

At first it seemed CBS was content with a suspension and the issue would blow over, but the protest grew more vocal and when advertisers started to pull their support (the same thing that triggered ABC to drop Bill Maher's late night show after the events of 9-11) Imus was also dropped by CBS.

Isn't it interesting that as vocal as protesters and critics were, it all came down to advertisers and the money. It's the American way.

Al Sharpton declared a small victory after the CBS verdict to fire Imus came down, calling it an example of hatred that should not and will not be tolerated. News camera were on hand for the response (and while you're at it, check it out, The Spartan Daily now has videos!)

The comments as we've all heard were derogatory and sexist in nature and he was rightfully taken to task for it and with the comments having been played again and again pretty much everyone has heard them and responded in some fashion.

Which brings up another interesting questions, why is it acceptable to repeat the statements on every cable channel and airwave?

How is it that we bleep out the N-word, but no one has batted an eye at this when everyone is claiming that it is just as unacceptable? You'll notice I haven't repeated them here.

And while I'm at it, why did every news front that covered the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers press conference use this picture:

The team has players that are not African-American, and the conference had these other players in attendance, yet their faces are not the ones on the cover of our nations newspapers. Instead we are given an image of what we want to see, because in a way, we want to see racism because that makes for a sexier story.

We are practicing visual racism as a culture, without even saying it we have all agreed that these insults are only for the black athletes, and if you really think about the words, are they really directed at any race? When rappers call women "hoes" are they directing them at any race? If they are, there there are some women in the wrong video.

And I believe nappy hair is not connected to race, I have nappy hair. So then why did the protesters, Rainbow Push (an organization I have volunteered and contributed to) in particular and the media snap onto the idea and why did society accept that this term was only specific to the Black players?

It would seem to me that not only was he wrong for saying what he said, but their is something wrong with us if automatically we assume that he only directed his comments to the African-American players.

I agree that Imus should have been punished, but I'm afraid that by firing him we are heading down a slippery slope. Most people are glad that a hate spewing radio personality will be off the air (but really, is what he said any different than what Howard Stern says?) but this opens a door that allows anyone that doesn't agree with what someone says to harm their livelihood.

For example, let's say tomorrow Regis Philbin comes out in support of gay marriage and decides to marry 50 couples on his show and starts advocating for same-sex nuptials. Before you know it, the opposition is picketing and demanding that Philbin be fired for his actions because they feel he is corrupting America.

Sure at first, ABC will refuse to act and defend his actions, but then the boycott continues and the religious right mobilizes and the state of New York dissolves all the marriages and the voices grow louder and pretty soon advertisers get antsy and start dropping support. The show can't go on without advertisers and ABC decides to let Regis go.

Is that fair? And if you're saying it'll never happen, oh it will happen, afterall they re-elected Bush (zing!).

This was unacceptable behavior and but perhaps we may have gone to far?

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

Let's not be fooled, this firing was a response to the advertisers and not the protester on CBS' part. The advertisers would not have pulled out if not for the bad publicity spurred by protests, but if you boil it down, it's about the ad rates.

It's an ugly mess all around... sometimes serious situations call for some light hearted ribbing. Send in the clowns!

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