posted on Apr, 15 2007 @ 12:07 AM
I think some people have missed the relevance of Imus' position in the entertainment field to why he can be fired for what he did. Although it is
wrong, Imus would have gotten off scott free if he were in the construction industry. He could have said that to the girls' fathers on a jobsite, and
if he had a responsible boss he would have been read the riot act and made to appologize, and that would be that. But Imus doesn't build stuff, Imus
talks to people about people. And he blew it in a bad way. He did his job poorly. Now a lot of people who indirectly pay his sallary (the advertising
targets who the MSM exists to reach) don't want to listen to him. How is Imus supposed to do his job, namely establish a relationship with the
listening public that enables his show to sell products and ideas for the networks and their advertising customers, when the people that advertisers
want to reach think poorly of Imus and those who do business with him?
Imus' job, in large part, is about making people relate with him. We don't relate well with racism. We all are guilty of it at times, many of us
experience it at times, but most of us are at least enlightened enough at this point in our social evolution that we don't like it and we don't want
it condoned in public. Imus misjudged people. He thought it was OK to appeal to the uglier side of our nature. Sure, we have these problems. I can't
deny that I carry certain expectations of certain people based both on popular myths and on unwarranted inferences I have made from a statistically
insignificant number of personal observations. That doesn't mean you can sell that kind of content to me. I don't like that tendency in myself and I
won't pay to have it fed. I sure as hell don't want it being sold to my little nephew as he grows up either; as a member of the audience I have one
vote among many, and my vote is that our culture doesn't need to be doing business with a communicator who is trying to keep a bad thing mainstream.
That's not legislating anything by the way. I'm not suggesting we outlaw it. I'm not even saying he's not allowed to say it. I'm saying he has no
right to be listened to, and therefore no right to a job that requires cultivating a large audience for advertising purposes. We have the right not to
listen to him, and when we exercise that right, odds are that we are going to get him fired. That is no infringement on his rights. It would be an
infringement of the network's rights to impugn their discretion over what they will and wont allow on their property. If they feel that he is bad for
them, or just not the best for them, because of the impression he makes on the audience, they can kick him to the curb. It's not much different from
ATS; if I made a habbit of acting that way, although I do have a right to say it under the 1st amendment, I have no right to continued access to the
Amigo's place of business. They would get rid of me and I would have no leg to stand on in complaining about it.
The thing about Chapelle and Mencia is that they aren't as broadly percieved as part of the problem so more of the audience is willing to tollerate
them for now. We can't legislate it and we can't kill it with a hammer, as has been said. We need to starve it to death. When we have made a certain
amount of progress, the Mencias etc will be the biggest offenders left standing and the biggest perpetuators of the problem, and I think the audience
will be sick of them then too. But for now, they are seen owning the language and subverting it and so they are tollerated. When there is nothing
serious left to subvert, that kind of humor will be gratuitous.
As for labels, intent and context are important. I will call myself a redneck, in a stupid is as stupid does kind of context, because the perjorative
against the white working class fits. My family tree, to the best of my knowledge, is nothing but construction workers, roughnecks, and dirt farmers
for the last hundred and fifty years (General Sherman ruined the one prosperous branch of the family). Nobody in my direct line has gone to a
university and not dropped out. So I find college pretty amusing because the decidedly unrednecked upper middle class kids who work in banks,
hospitals, and newspaper offices and lease new mustangs are loosing sleep over having 3 days to read somewhere under a hundred pages and compose 2500
words on it, and I my redneck butt was doing that level of work daily just for diversion in the off hours of 84 hour work weeks in a quarry. One girl
put it pretty well I thought when she said I was like some kind of rocket scientist trucker. In that context I like it because I own it. But let
someone call me a redneck in a disparaging context and they just made an enemy for life. There is no need to use that in the perjorative sense, even
if you're talking about racists rather than poor whites. You could use a more precise word. The only function that the word redneck adds as far as I
can see is to insult on the basis of stereotypical characteristics rather than individual faults. If Cynthia Mckinney called somebody a redneck, it
would be unacceptable to call her a nappy headed ho in return, so it is equally unacceptable to do the inverse with Imus. There are plenty of apt
words; ignoramus comes to mind. Why go broad brush?
As for the politics of it, I think there is no doubt that this is being spun by an agenda. How is Imus in a position to scar anyone for life? If they
were that fragile, I would think that the entertainment industry would have done them in a long time ago. And show me the scar. Thats the great thing
about scars; they remain as evidence. If these players give up on themselves because Imus said they are just nappy headed hos, and they all end up
hittin the block in miniskirts in hopes of landing a thug with some money rather than continuing to build futures for themselves as anything but hos,
then I'll totally amend my position based on that evidence and cast my lot with Jesse Jackson. They may be offended or hurt, but I think they have
the strength to move on in spite of the ills of society just as many have been doing for years even while large segments of the media were promoting
stereotypes that told them they were trash (therein lies the significance of rappers, not in that they make it ok but in that they are demeaning
women, particularly black women, but are powerless to actually hurt them without their cooperation). So why not show that strength and outclass Imus?
Why empower the moron? Because making him a danger creates the need for defenders like Jesse Jackson? My take is that these girls have been used as
pawns, I at least hope unwittingly, not by a victim culture as much as a victim industry: a powerful lobby of men like Jackson who wield a great deal
of influence and accumulate a great deal of wealth by telling people that they aren't strong enough and need the representation of their betters. I
think that in that position I would interpret the message of the activists as being, "you know, you really are as pathetic as the demagogues say, and
you are destined to be dictated to by popular culture, but if you'll support my bid for control of that culture, I'll make your unfortunate lot an
easy one. That, by the way, is also how I interpret the message of white supremacist organizations who try to tell poor whites that if we will support
their heirarchy and accept our place as footsoldiers, we will be given a lighter burden than we would under the current status quo. And in both cases
I say screw that, you have no idea what calliber of person you are up against in me and I'm gonna fight the status quo under my own flag for my own
values, and if you want an alliance with me you're gonna have to give and take until our values are compatible, not just offer me table scraps.
It wasn't giving Imus their power to denounce him; it was giving him their power by making him out to be stronger than he is through the suggestion
that he could traumatize them. If I called George W Bush a name (as I am prone to doing) and he said that I had damaged his ability to be himself, he
would be giving me his power. He would be manifesting my intentions into reality for me, because I can't stop the war, but if with just a hollow
insult I could damage his confidence in his policy and make him doubt it, he would be giving me the power to end the war. Now if these women imply
that Imus can make them doubt their value and scar them for life by calling them nappy headed hos, then they are giving Imus the power to do what he
can not do, namely prevent black women from elevating themselves. I took BH's comments in that light; not as saying that it was wrong to give Imus
the recognition that comes with opposition, just that they were attributing to him an ability to damage that he could only gain through by their
PS, as for the rappers only call them hos if they act like it defense... buy a copy of d12 world. I would just post the lyrics, but then i'd be
compelled to ban myself.
As for lawsuits, no, the courts do not mete out appologies. The courts recompense actual damages and punish both as a deterrent and in keeping with
the principle that one may not be allowed to keep profits from wrongdoing. Libel is defined accordingly. It generally has to be false, malicious (or
negligent of potential harm), and damaging, depending on whether the case is federal or which state it is in. So unless Imus has actually caused
demonstrable harm to these girls, such as getting them kicked off the team for 'being hos' or getting one of them sexually assaulted etc and either
meant to or should have seen it coming, I do not think there is a case there. If a court ruling was a way of making you say you were sorry for doing
something rude, then you could get sued for passing gas in a movie theater. Come to think of it, when I put it that way, I am tempted to agree with
the other side.
Last but certainly not least, if Imus is the naked soul of a racist nation, why is he in so much trouble? To my eye, this situation paints a clear
picture of a nation that is changing its ways: one that definately has had problems and has not yet eradicated them, but which is finally taking them
seriously and trying to correct them.