Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I had to jump on this Imus thing right away.

Speaking about Imus's apologies, Rev. Al Sharpton said on the Today show: “I think it is not really enough. It’s too little too late. This kind of use of the airwaves must be stopped .... It’s not about Don Imus. This is about the use of public airwaves, the use of advertising dollars.”

Sharpton's last line presents the quagmire - while the use of public airwaves is something we should concern ourselves with, who cares about the use of advertising dollars? Why should I care how Procter & Gamble spends it multi-million advertising budget? That's its problem, not mine. It's almost like Sharpton thought he was talking about an elected official and at the last moment, he inserted 'advertising dollars' where 'tax dollars' would be.

The public airwaves are a concern - given the limited number of broadcasting licenses awarded, the stations that hold them do have a responsibility to produce edifying, at least redeemable content. Right?

We've only heard about black leaders calling for Imus's removal, and then just tonight the pull-out of advertisers, but there hasn't been word about the FCC's reaction. How grievous were Imus's comments to those that rule the airwaves?

Since Imus is not an elected official who is supported by our tax dollars, is it up to the invisible hand of the market to "correct" Imus? Will advertisers head for the hills? Will those who stick it out be boycotted? Or will they gain greater exposure as this controversy drives listeners to Imus's show?

The million dollar question: Should Imus be fired? And if you're not black, do you have a right to weigh in on this question?

For the first question, I think it would be cool if Imus was not fired and did get a black cohost, as he expressed a desire for on the Today show. His ignorance could be highlighted, and he could be beaten down daily until some change takes place. Or in the presence of a black host, he might totally stick his tail between his legs, become totally boring and kill the show by decimating the entertainment value. I feel like the more talk that goes on the better, and it would be great to have this person involved in the dialogue about why what he said is so awful. My Dad has worked in human resources for a major printing company for over 30 years. He says when a dispute arises between two employees and the word 'racist' is even muttered, all dialogue ceases and attorneys are called in to take over the communication process. This just seems to lead to misunderstanding, hurt, anger and a stunting of natural communication, no matter how ugly and ungraceful it is. Imus's idiocy will be closeted and just end up a cautionary tale if he is fired. If he stays on and begins a daily conversation with a black cohost, I think some real progress might be made - people who identify with Imus's comments may learn something.

On the second question, should non-black people's opinions be weighed on whether Imus should stay or go? I took several American Indian studies courses in college, and we often discussed the mascot issue with my Oneida professors and classmates. One of my professors said that she did not care about the use of Indian mascots personally but that some people she knew were really upset by their use. And for that reason, she was against them. I thought that was a good policy. If you know some people are really upset by something and you don't really care or have an important stake in the issue, you should side with the people who are really affected by the issue. Every black person I've seen on tv (granted, I have not talked with a black person about the Imus issue) has said that Imus should go. Therefore, I think Imus should go. I know that I have no idea what it feels like to be called "nappy-headed". I also know that I don't know what it feels like that my ancestors were enslaved in my own country. Or if my grandfather were lynched (like a pastor I know).

So my personal hope is that Imus is kept on so there can be talk about how awful it is what he said. But that hope falls to my second belief, that whoever was hurt by Imus should have the larger say in what happens to him.


At Tuesday, April 10, 2007, Blogger MK said...

apologies, AM! We must have been working on these at the same time...

At Wednesday, April 11, 2007, Blogger AG said...

Many people are coming out saying that if Imus worked for me he would be fired... or similar things. While I, personally, think that his comments were completely inappropriate and offensive, I am not sure that his complete removal is the best solution.

I realize that Jon said he would definitely fire Imus. I have a slightly different perspective. Honestly, I am wondering why this time is becoming such an issue. Imus has said inappropriate things before. He has been reprimanded in the past, but never has it ever gotten this much attention. Maybe this saying was worse than all the others, but if you take a look, it's not really.

Like Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon said, "...But there's nothing rare about Imus's vile attacks. This is what he does as a matter of course."

I guess I am just confused as to why this is the final straw and such a big deal when he has said so many similar things and never gotten in "real big trouble" for it.

At Thursday, April 12, 2007, Blogger AJS said...

I think it's a little bit simplistic to say that because one isn't black one can't have a say in whether Imus stays or goes. It's also a bit simplistic to say all blacks want Imus to be gone.

Is that to say that if you're not rich, you can't have a say on tax policy for the rich? Or that all rich people necessarily want to be taxed less?

There are degrees within everything, and I think all reasonable people can participate in debate, not simply those who happen to have been offended.

Plus, I've heard Michael Wilbon, a black columnist whom AG quotes, say the comments were more sexist than racist. So shouldn't women have a say as well?

That being said, I think the black co-host is a great idea (although it runs the risk of being enabling, like Robin Quivers is for Howard Stern; Imus could say something and then say, "Well, my black co-host thinks it's funny, so it's OK"). I hope it occurs in some iteration when Imus gets back on the air.


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