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The World Needs Garden Tools Like Don Imus

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At the University of Memphis, students are marching — across campus.
Commercial Appeal columnist Wendi C. Thomas has written a figurative letter of support to the Rutgers Women Basketball Team. She knows about being denigrated. An excerpt:

Women who achieve anything of note, who step into the limelight even for a moment, run the very real risk of being torn down for no good reason.

Mean-spirited men who devalue women — be it Imus or misogynist rappers or flaming bloggers — are everywhere, and some of them have bigger megaphones than others.

But your supporters are legion. People you will never meet — parents everywhere, athletes all around, women of all colors — are praying for you.

Some prayers have been answered. Through the power of advertising, MSNBC kicked him to the curb. Now, so has CBS.
They'll regret it soon enough — and so shall we.
Did Imus and Bernard McGuirk cross the line? Yes.
They spoke ill of the underdog. That's what Rutger's Women Basketball team personified. No one expected them to be in that championship game against the Lady Vols, but there they were. Fighting to the last second, which is the basic requirement we ask of any American. For that, they didn't deserve to be denigrated.
Maybe, Imus and the gang thought that no one watches Women's basketball since only one or two can dunk. They're not flashy. They just grind it out. Fundamentals. Girls trying to be like the men, they perhaps thought, echoing what so many think. (More on that later.) No, these women are athletes. Pure and simple. Gracious ones at that.
But fire Imus? Whatever. He'll end up podcasting. Or on XM or Sirius Radio doing what Howard Stern's feeble mind only dreamed and has yet to fully realize. He'll end up simulcasting on FuseTV or Comedy Central.
So, yes, CBS and MSNBC will be sorry.
We will too because the censorship advocates have been emboldened. And that's the main reason why Imus's firing was a bad idea. Now, we'll be subjected to those who want to bleach our airwaves. We'll hear idiots — and yes, that's what they are — who say that Imus, who is in his 60s, was unduly influenced by hip-hop, which is the real target in all this.
In excusing Imus, there are those who will argue that rappers have said and shown worse in their videos. Tis true, but there's a difference.
In hip-hop music, the women — be they black, white, brown or yellow — are willing participants. Some are true entrepreneurs, building franchises on the natural resource God gave them, like it or not. People simply don't like it. We can argue all night over what women should and shouldn't do with their own bodies. But I digress.
More importantly, I don't believe in idolization. We all know women who are less than Godly just like we know all men aren't perfect. The world needs "hoes" and "bitches" — females and males, alike. You won't know "good" unless you have something to compare. Without the video chicks, we really couldn't appreciate the gracefulness of the Rutgers women.
(And if all else fails, what my Mama said still holds true: you are what you respond too. Kids, listen to your parents. Parents, be parents. But I digress again.)
Back to the main point, Imus needs to be on the air like Limbaugh needs to be on the air, like all those other ill-mannered SOBs need to be on the air. Because in a society that values a free exchange of ideals, censorship in any form is unacceptable.
The better response: demand that CBS and MSNBC develop shows with more diverse views.
Imus is gone. Yet, what do we have to show for it: nothing.
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About M:M

  • Clavos

    In another thread on the Imus firing, the discussion has been entirely focused on the issue of racism.

    Everyone is ignoring the question of freedom of speech.

    Thanks for posting.

  • Sisyphus

    Imus was hired to do a job. He was PAID to speak. And his show was a commercial product. Broadcasters have not only the right but the obligation to control the content of their programming. Freedom of speech does not guarantee that you can use someone else’s microphone to say whatever the hell you want. No, only for as long as the owner of the microphone is willing to lend you the mike. Now MSNBC and CBS are reclaiming their microphone and Imus will need to find another. But there is no violation of anyone’s freedom of speech here.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Clavos – I said it on another thread, but I’ll say it here too…Imus has freedom of speech…but what he doesn’t have is freedom to get paid to speak…I’m sure someone will pay for his words…sooner than later

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    and all of you give Imus way to much credit. If he tears anyone down it’s because they let him. Did one word of what he said change the fact that the Rutgers ladies basketball team made it to the finals of the NCAA tourney?

    Honestly…I’m from NJ and I didn’t even know they made it to the finals until all this crap happened!!! And what’s funny about it is that this is one case where people will remember who came in second!

  • Clavos

    Thanks Sisyphus and Andy.

    That’s what I wanted to see – opinions on the issue.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    It is absolute bullshit to suggest that censorship was the reason Imus was fired.

    CBS had no choice. They were paying him $8 million a year to generate $15 million worth of advertising revenue. There were boycotts, sponsors dropping off, syndication fees were in danger (including the one from MSNBC), and then there were the scads of negative publicity – he quickly became a liability.

  • http://mediaverse-memphis.blogspot.com Richard Thompson

    Sisyphus,

    You’re right.

    Imus was commercial and broadcasters have the right and public obligation to control the content on their airwaves. No one disputes that.

    At the same time, though, there are forces that seek to extinguish all color from the airwaves deemed “objectionable.”

    This is an argument that should concern us all.

    Censorship should be fought wherever it arises and in any form into which it morphs.

    So, while I believe some redress needed to happen to Imus for his comments, I’m extremely bothered when the spirits of C. Delores Tucker muscle up to takedown hip-hop and other forms of music.

    I’m bothered when black commentators argue that hip-hop is destroying good white kids in the suburbs — kids who would be angels, if not for that black music. Whatever.

    I’m bothered when people believe that the absence of “music” — or any form of entertainment — can alter behavior. It’s ludicruous to believe, for instance, that the absence of sex on TV will make people less inclined to have sex.

    It’s the not music that does a drive-by. It’s the anger inside the person with his/her finger on the trigger. It’s not the music that causes teen pregnancy. It’s the absence of sex education in our homes, churches and schools that leaves children ignorant and to their own devices. BUt I digress.

    Censorship is a way of avoiding a much-needed conversation that can add perspective to the complex and conflicting world that makes us who we are.

    Indeed, though I rather not wake up every morning having to defend my skin color or my choice of clothing or what’s in my CD player or the books I read, I still wouldn’t want to live in a society without conflicts.

    How can we grow in our beliefs if there is nothing to challenge them?

  • http://mediaverse-memphis.blogspot.com Richard Thompson

    There were boycotts, sponsors dropping off, syndication fees were in danger (including the one from MSNBC), and then there were the scads of negative publicity – he quickly became a liability.

    All of it censorship.

    Imus has always been prone to racially-incendiary rants, but no one deserted him before. But that’s not really the point.

    The real point: there aren’t enough counter-views on the public airwaves. We need more, not fewer, voices of equal import.

    Advertisers, the real power behind media, should support those voices too.

  • JustOneMan

    “In hip-hop music, the women — be they black, white, brown or yellow — are willing participants.” Oh yea…all the women in the world have voted and said yes – black rappers have our permission to call us… bitches, cunts and ho’s

    Gee when was the election…

    More proof tha liberalism is disease..

    JOM

  • http://mediaverse-memphis.blogspot.com Richard Thompson

    You don’t think white rappers or Latino rappers or Asian rappers talk about women?

    In any event, women make a conscientious choice about what they involve themselves in. That fact cannot be overlooked.

    If I choose to participate in “exploitation,” is it really “exploitation”?

  • steve

    thaaaank you JOM!! Talk about a double standard!

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    I’ve actually got an old Eazy-E song on my ipod which has virtually word for word what Imus said, except that the words have been slightly rearranged and a few swear words are thrown in. Would Imus be in trouble if he’d just quoted the song?

    Dave

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    There’s no such thing in America as an unlimited freedom.

    This is not about government censorship of free speech. Of course, networks, radio and TV station owners, movie theatre chains, newspapers, magazines, etc. have the right to decide what “speech” they will allow for their venues. It’s a business decision they make based on many different factors.

    And most families decide what “speech” is appropriate in the home–that’s censorship based on individual sensible judgement. There are acceptable reasonable limits to complete freedom of speech imposed in schools, malls, restaurants, airplanes, the military, etc. every day.

    So, I can’t agree with your premise that “censorship in any form is unacceptable.”

    If you work in a school, bank, retail establishment, government office, law enforcement and so on, try making an Imus-like declaration today and see what will probably happen to your job.

    Ignorance is universal;stupidity is individual.

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    #9:
    Dave,
    Is your song specifically about the Rutger’s women’s basketball team? Doesn’t that make all the difference here?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Lee, I don’t see how that makes any difference at all. Calling black women “nappy headed ‘ho’s” is the offensive part. It doesn’t matter who those black women happen to be.

    Or did you mean that it makes the difference because that’s what got the issue publicized? There you might have a point. And if that’s the case then Imus really is being singled out unfairly solely because the butt of his humor happened to be popular or perceived as less deserving of abuse than his usuall targets.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    @#10:

    “censorship” is defined as suppression of speech by the government; of course private entities have the right to suppress most kinds of behavior, including undesirable speech, on their premises.

  • Arch Conservative

    “We will too because the censorship advocates have been emboldened”

    To be more accurate Richard, you should have said…

    We will too because the selective censorship advocates, who are for the most part,the guardians of contemporary leftist ideology in this nation, have been emboldened

    Funny how now one wants to have a “dialogue on race relations” because a couple of white male college students were falsely accussed of rape and slandered in a digusting display of race politics and demagoguery

    Funny how people were up in arms over Trentt Lott saying thinsg would be better off with strom thurmond in charge but no one blinks an eye when Joe Biden says “you need to have an Indian accent if you go in a 711″ or when Hillary said “ghandi owned a gas station” or when ray nagin called new orleans a chocolate city

    it’s a bullshit double standard that the hypocrites who adhere to leftist ideology practice…..they claim to believe in free speech for everyone but they really don’t..they only believe in free speech that agrees with their point of view…..you canmake all kindso f derogatory remarks about white people, conservatives, republicans, business people, christians, americaetc… but if you critisize illegal aliens, other nations, if you try to hold an individual who hapens to be a minority accountable for their own actions….then whoah look out the leftist thought police are on you like Bill Clinton on a white house intern on her fiirst day on the job…trying to stifle your speech

    anyone who isn’t a leftist partisan hack themselves can see this double standard exists..and to anyone on bc who wants to deny it…………

    GO FUCK YOURSELF!

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    #17: So nobody has the freedom of speech to disagree with your ideas about the freedom of speech?

    Sorry, that’s not conservatism.

  • http://mediaverse-memphis.blogspot.com Richard Thompson

    You know, there is a way to hold a person accountable without resorting to “Go F— Yourself” stances.

    But that’s beyond the point. Imus and his cohorts weren’t trying to hold anyone accountable.

    —–

    And for the record, can we let Eazy-E rest in peace? He was not a journalist. He did not have his own radio show with an Imus-like following. Presidential candidates didn’t make shout-outs on NWA albums asking their homies to vote for them. And oh yeah, he’s dead, not relevant in this day and time.

    —-

    Also, there’s a difference between choice and censorship.

    Parents can choose what’s scene inside a home, but that choice doesn’t affect what’s available to everyone else.

    Censorship diminishes the ability to choices.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “Mean-spirited men who devalue women — be it Imus or misogynist rappers or flaming bloggers — are everywhere, and some of them have bigger megaphones than others.”

    They said nothing about misogynist bloggers. Phew!

  • http://www.greasyguide.com GreasyGuide

    But Don Imus is not a product of Hip-hop culture. He is twice the age of Hip-hop so by no means at all are his words rooted in anything to do with Hip-hop. At the end of the day imus is a product and if your fails to start paying then that product needs to be removed. There are over 1000 white men making billions off of hip-hop culture. And Don Imus has he said Jews, Spick, Faggot or anything else would have made the same fate. American will no longer tolerate hate world from Ishiah Washington, Michael Richards, Don Imus or any other ass who comes a long.

  • JustOneMan

    GreasyGuide,

    Based your illogic…Americans will no longer tolerate your politcially correct intolerance!

    Your fired!

    JOM

    PS Stop acting like a Nappy Headed Ho!

  • Zedd

    Richard

    Great article!

    I think that you miss the point that Imus went too far. If we were a society that was bleaching all divers views from the air ways, Imus would have been gone a long time ago. He just took things too far and lost.

    This man called Black young ladies jigaboos, which is synonymous with jungle bunny, monkey or the rest of those old racist terms that are favored by groups like the skinheads or the KKK. He then went on to call them ho’s. Certainly his sponsors and stations do not want to be affiliated with that vileness. As for the nappy headed comment, that is just silly. He doesn’t have a real clue as to what that is. That was just annoying.

    I think that most Whites had no idea what he really said. Most Whites don’t get the meaning of the comment. He probably didn’t even get the meaning of it, who knows. But he said it on the airways, on those stations.

    If CBS and MSNBC kept him after that, they would be condoning those words.

    Whether he succeed on satellite radio or not is not the point for CBS or MSNBC, they cant sacrifice their respectability for Imus. Besides its the strong and right thing to do. Don’t forget, the public outrage doesn’t exist out of nothing. We have a huge and powerful history of unwarranted attacks, disrespect and utter disregard for African Americans. We have a history of looking at African Americans like animals, property or things.

    The fact that so many White Americans don’t see the big deal in this matter says we are still comfortable with those notions and we don’t see the evil in that.

    Lastly as I said on the previous thread, Imus is a product. The product is flawed so it is no longer marketable. The market said, next.

    If Imus goes to FX and gets a greater following, we will know just how sick we as a nation still are. It will help us know just how little we have progressed. If he fails we will know that we have evolved and moved much further passed the evils of our past.

    Either way its a win win. We get to see who we are.

  • http://none francois

    it worries me that anyone can be put under a spotlight that divides this american culture that is pulling us a part rather then uniting us.
    the pc police on every door step watching us for the odd mistake and being fired at your job due to your male carelessness or your female carelessness in a gesture, a word, or even a mistranslated word. could a borat movie be done in this climate now?

  • Zedd

    francois

    Our culture IS devided and has been since its conception. We just pretend as if it isn’t. By reading these comments you can tell that there is a lot of stuff brewing in the bowels of this great land.

    You don’t get to do what this nation has done to African Americans and nothing happens.

  • What’s the difference?

    First of all, I don’t agree with the statement Imus made. But, what is the difference between a white person making that comment than a black person? I watched a spot on MTV on 4/13/07. The skit was call “So, you have to work with a white person”. Then, it proceeded to present, dorky white people and portray them as idiots. Basically, the skit was to educate blacks on how to understand whites. They commented, whites are always happy. Then, an actor comes up and tells the dorky white man that his entire family has just been killed in a horrible death. The man then says something like oh well, that is ok, can’t win them all, or something like that. What does that mean? White people don’t care if their families die a horrible death?
    The point is this, how come black comedians and other media can slam white folks from everything to the way they dance, look, talk, body parts size and any other comment to make a joke and expect everyone to laugh. But, if a white person makes a joke or makes the slightest attempt to fit into the black culture, it is a racial issue.
    So, everyone needs to quit making fun of others cultures, which will never happen. So, don’t take it so hard. Whatever happened to the days of Bill Cozby? He was funny. But, he didn’t drag race into it.

  • http://mediaverse-memphis.blogspot.com Richard Thompson

    Comedians make jokes.

    If Imus (a journalist) and his gang had simply called them the female version of the Toronto Raptors, then it’s possible to simply pass that off as a lame attempt at comedy but they went further than that.

    And more differences come into play when one considers the racial makeup of the media, of entertainment, of the politic structure, and one sees the lack of diversity which makes it common to connect “whiteness” as a representation of the mainstream “America.”

    The majority of our politicians, our superheroes, our celebrities, the image of beauty, just to name a few things, are white — though thankfully that’s changing as it should.

    So, the jokes on MTV show are manifestations of that push against the mainstream.

    Lastly, assimiliation is not the solution nor is refraining from comedy.

    The key is understanding our differences and working together. Thankfully, that’s happening too.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=Vichus%20Smith Vichus Smith

    Are the targets of the words “ho” “bitch” and the like really always willing participants? You mean that every time a rapper writes a song, all the African American females in America sign off on that?

    There is no difference. Rappers have freedom of speech, and Don Imus has freedom of speech. Period. What should have been Don Imus’ penalty is that his listeners and viewers should stop listening to his show, or call him up and tell him he was wrong for his comment.

    The Rutgers basketball team, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, etc. had little to no idea who Don Imus was before this, so how is this hurting them? Also, how is it hurting black people in America?

    By the way (if it matters) I’m black. Don Imus doesn’t scare me, and it doesn’t “offend me.” Don Imus is an old white guy broadcasted on 2 stations I don’t listen or watch. If I did listen or watch his program, When I heard his commments, in the context it was spoken, I took it as a mockery of the very same language that I hear in the streets, subways and neighborhoods where other black men (and women, BTW) demean women, probably because they’re emulating the corporate drivel we have to call hip-hop.

    Double standard. Hip hop lives, and Imus was a target. It is hypocrisy, and it is against the constitution to not give people freedom to say what they want, even if it is construed as “hateful.”

    You know what I hate? Political correctness. It’s run amok, and soon it will claim the entertainment you love. Don’t come crying about “freedom” then.

  • Clavos

    Vichus Smith writes:

    It is hypocrisy, and it is against the constitution to not give people freedom to say what they want, even if it is construed as “hateful.”

    The Constitution was not violated by Imus’ firing.

    His freedom of speech wasn’t curtailed; he can continue to call anyone he wants pretty much anything he wants.

    He just won’t be paid by those employers anymore, which is their right. His remarks damaged their business when advertisers began to pull out, so they had every right to fire him.

  • http://mediaverse-memphis.blogspot.com Richard Thompson

    Hi Vic,

    I’ll make this quick. (Hey, that rhymes…) In any event, I appreciate your comments but I guess we can agree to disagree on some points. And no, it doesn’t matter if you’re black. (It is nice to know I’m not the only black man on BC, though.)

    It’s illogical to assume that rappers are talking about all women. That assumption says more about the person making it than the rappers themselves. Do I like how hip-hop has turned out?

    I agree with Nas that hip-hip is either dead or on life-support. It’s time for a change, but men and women have been talking bad (and good) about each other in music for decades. It’s just par for the course. But, a discussion on music and Imus is an apples-to-oranges comparison that misses the point.

    And you’re wrong about Al and Jesse not knowing who Imus was before all of this. They are well-acquainted with who he is. Did this incident hurt black America? I doubt it, but it did offer an opportunity for us to let it be known that we will not tolerate this kind of behavior.

    My feeling is that we should have asked for more than just Imus’s head on a platter. His firing doesn’t guarantee that CBS or MSNBC or any other media will see the need to diversify the voices and opinions on the air. But, as one of my friends noted, we don’t know what the hell the community leaders pushed for in the CBS boardroom. But I digress.

    We certainly see eye-to-eye on Media Matters. I, too, have a dislike for political correctness, but no one has to offend me just to make a point.

    Back to Imus, he’s not a rapper. He’s not a musician. He is a journalist, and we, journalists, are held to a different standard and he was held accountable — finally.

    Peace,
    Richard Thompson