We all know by now Don Imus made an unfortunate comment the other morning on his radio program. It's been oft repeated, so if you don't know what he said by now, you obviously don't have CNN, MSNBC, FOX or even a working television. It was one of those dumb-ass remarks, the sort of which shock jocks say every morning. But somebody just happened to be listening at the right time, and a media firestorm erupted.
Yeah, Imus shot off his mouth once too often at the wrong time, and for that, he should be banished to some broadcasting netherworld. The Reverend Al Sharpton has said as much, adding that forgiveness does not absolve a perpetrator from penalty. Jesse Jackson has echoed this, although I'm still not sure how NYC is "Hymietown," or what penance should be paid for referring to the Big Apple as such. Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z, who have used the exact same words Imus used, have thus far had no comment on the remark.
Look. Imus shouldn't have said what he said over the airwaves. He's admitted that. You just can't use barroom language on the radio. What you can do on the radio, however, is promote gun violence, advocate death for outspoken foes of Bush ala Dixie Chicks, hustle yo' hos and discuss questionable ways of scoring big, so long as you put it to a bitchin' dance beat.
I'm not defending Imus. I'm also not jumping on his execution cart. There are larger issues at play here. The American culture has become dysfunctional–rehab has become the new magic pill for everything from depression to homophobia, and it's a cure-all that's becoming more than a little frightening. It more than homogenizes us–it somnabolizes us. When we strive to make everything politically correct, we render independent thought impotent.
Alas, we're approaching that point, if we haven't already crossed it. By all means, fire Imus. We can't have those kinds of ill-chosen words polluting our collective mind. But let's don't stop there–let's fire all the shock jocks and political commentators, be they from the left or right, from Tim O'Reilly to Jon Stewart. And while we're at it, let's pull The Jeffersons and All In the Family–who ever knew people like that? I'm feeling better already, aren't you? Rap has to go, of course, what all that street jive, and country, to, with all those songs promoting cheatin' and drinkin'. Oh hell, let's just burn it all.
It will be a perfect world. Everyone will live in perfect harmony, and nobody will offend anybody else. Until one early morning, somebody just has to shoot off his mouth.