Tuesday, April 10, 2007

NEWS FLASH: Don Imus No Angel

I don't have a clear take on the Don Imus situation, but then a clear take would be as prejudiced as some say his remarks are.

No situation like this is clear cut, no matter what the "fire him" and "let it go" people on the street say. Most of the coverage is getting such either/or responses, reducing shades of gray to the sound bite convenience of black and white.

Michael Richards, Mel Gibson, and half the God Almighty televangelists in the country say something or do something for which they get a dressing down. It's really hypocrisy we're after, not so much racial slurs. There are such comments in much of private life, don't think that's over with. But no one, not even an R-rated comedian or radio ranter, can make such comments in public?

Well, then the hypocrisy is in us.

It's good to remind celebrities and superstars that they are not invincible. But then there's free speech, too.

The preachers, politicians and public servants who acts so crassly were setting themselves up to be role models, protectors of the very virtues they espoused, innocent of dark desires and wrong doing, slander and sin.

But the Richards and Imus cases are different. These guys dance along the frontiers of free speech all the time. They're rather odd and even nasty adults getting paid a lot of money to riff in ways that feel risky, unpredictable, even dangerous. It's not family hour. It's not church. Some might mistake Imus and others for preachers, but that's their own fault (and a sign of waywardness in this Titanic culture). Let's not forget: that microphone-chewing riffing is what they are paid for. That's their job, for which these guys are popular and well paid. We don't pay them to babysit or teach. Is it love/hate? Do we resent their "success" and thus pounce on them more mercilessly than we do our own relatives and neighbors who say tawdry, old-fashioned things?

By giving work and thus voice to such colorful and off-color entertainers, we take the risk of hearing them go "too far" for a few minutes now and then after, apparently, hearing acceptable ranting for weeks, months, and years come from their mouths.

We're not selling much pride or much to be proud of in this country, and neither the king nor the court jester has any pomp without the circumstance, namely the audience.

Should he stay or should he go? Should any of us stay or go? I'm mindful of the gray areas here and of the audience's own attraction to rants -- as well as its own lurking hypocrisy.


At 4/10/2007 10:14 AM, Anonymous Evorgleb said...

Wow, the Imus thing is just crazy. I personally think people are making too big of a deal out of it. If any of you care to read it, one of our writers over at Highbrid Nation worked with Imus over at WFAN for several years and recently chimed in on the whole situation. He also reveals some details that the media is failing to report on in regards to the suspension

At 4/10/2007 11:57 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Evergleb, good link, and more layers of hypocrisy come to light. I still say that's the jugular here: hypocrisy. The next biggest vein: how "political correctness" slays freedom. Freedom ain't free. It comes with risks, one of those risks being that we might hear and see a bunch of garbage we might rather not. But so what? I'm not going to tell anybody what to do. It's Imus' business to tell himself what to do. Meanwhile, as it's always been and will be with this species, we get to judge his character for ourselves.

At 4/10/2007 12:07 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

There are a good many polls on the web right now related to Imusgate. The one at MSNBC shows these results, after 125,654 votes were cast.

What should happen to Don Imus after his remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team?

He should be fired -- there's no excuse for what he said: 31%.

The two-week suspension is enough: 29%.

A suspension is too much. He's a shock jock, this is what he's paid for: 39%.

As a brave defender of the first amendment and not one to cast a first or 125,655th stone, I'm going with the winning choice, at 39%. The public discussion is good, but as for his job, that is a private matter between Imus and his employer.


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