And quiet flows the Don: After a weeklong media blitz and a spate of complaints from figures like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, CBS fired Don Imus from his radio show on Thursday for his reference to Rutgers women’s basketball players as “nappy-headed hos.” No one online seems to have had much affection for the shock jock, yet chatter focuses on how shambolic it was to have “race-baiters” and “hypocrites” inter a man who said nothing worse than what one might find in hip-hop lyrics.
Media critic Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine thinks the standards for a “macaca moment” ought to be re-evaluated in the age of cable news and YouTube. Nevertheless, he writes: “I would have fired Don Imus years ago. Because he’s boring. And if he should have been fired as a racist, that, also, should have occurred years ago. Howard Stern has been exposing his racism for more than a decade (odd, by the way, that few if any news reports went to Stern for this perspective). I’m no fan of Imus. I panned him in TV Guide years ago. I won’t miss him now that he’s gone. I think what he said was as stupid as it was offensive — that is, colossally on both counts.”
At the New Criterion’s Armavirumque, conservative editor Roger Kimball says he never took to Imus but sympathizes with the auto-da-fé officiated by hypocrites: “I don’t have much time for vulgarians like Don Imus. But I am ready to give him if not three then at least two cheers. His brand of irreverence is not everyone’s cup of tea. But the idea that he should be pilloried and hounded out of his job because Sharpton and Jackson managed to whip up a frenzied, racially-inspired campaign against him is nothing less than disgusting.”
Oregonian Rob Kremer thinks the timing is all wrong: “[I]t is really interesting that this story broke concurrently with the Duke lacrosse players getting their charges dropped. Weren’t Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson fanning those flames as well? Have they apologized to the lacrosse players? I mean, who was harmed more, the Rutgers basketball team or the Duke lacrosse players? It’s not even close.”
Largely, though, bloggers focus on the apparent double standard that allows rappers to get away with the same language that got Imus canned. Richard at Politics Plus Stuff argues that it’s a “red herring that Rap artists us the same terms all the time without penalty. … Sure it is disgusting when Rap artists ‘use those words,’ but they are using them generally. They are not actually calling real live very talented people those names in front of everyone. Which is not to defend the Rap artists’ use of the terms. They also deserve to be taken down for such incivilities. But they don’t walk right up to a woman and call her a ‘ho’ to her face on national radio and TV just to entertain an audience!”
Few share that sentiment. Writes Travis at the incongruent-affect: “Don Imus is an idiot. There’s no doubt about it. … But the utter hypocrisy of individuals like Snoop Dogg who cry foul at individuals who use this sort of language and then sell records that freely use those terms is staggering.”
And righty Michelle Malkin, who devoted her latest column to the pervasive misogyny in rap, compiles a selection of the latest chart-topping lyrics and adds: “Al Sharpton, I am sure, is ready to call a press conference with the National Organization for Women to jointly protest this garbage and protest the radio stations and big pimpin’ music companies behind it. Or perhaps the New Civility Squad is not convinced yet that the Billboard chart toppers I’ve highlighted are representative?”
At My Errant Mind, Sean Wilson, a former U.S. Army infantryman, has no love for Imus either, but points out a different hypocrisy: “I hear young women calling each other bitches and such cute variants as ‘biatch’ or ‘beotch’ all the time. They proclaim it proudly on their MySpace profiles, on their t-shirts, and call each other by those words when talking on their cell phones. I am assuming these young women who were the target of the comments by Imus never use ho or bitch or any other such language? Not ever? And they get offended when they hear it in movies, right? And they would speak out if someone else had been targeted? Forgive me if am skeptical.”
Conservative black blogger LaShawn Barber decries the double standard and comes down hard on the black community: “If black Americans in 2007 are this delicate and overreact to the slightest insults with this much unrighteous indignation, it’s pretty safe to say black people are not made the way they used to be, of stronger stuff, able to withstand truly demeaning and criminal treatment at the hands of true oppressors. It’s sad to know that the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of people who faced actual oppression are so much weaker, much less discerning, and much more undignified.”
New York magazine’s The Daily Intelligencer has a handy roundup of bigoted slurs uttered by public figures.