Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Political correctness lives on

Two interesting articles, one focuses on Imus and the other is about who is allowed to be politically incorrect and who isn't.

I have a lot of different opinions about this hoopla. I thought his statements, referring to the Rutgers Women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos", were insulting and uncalled for. I also think this is nothing new from Imus. Have we not seen this before? Yes, we have. In spite of this, I don't think Imus should have been canned for it. Why? I believe in free speech, and while the government wasn't involved, I think when activist groups demand someone be fired for what he or she says and the offender's employers comply, that it has a chilling effect on speech. When it comes down to it, it amounts to censorship.

I really don't like Don Imus, never have. I never liked his show, and I liked him even less. Though I do have to give him credit for the theme song he used for his show, Stevie Ray Vaughan, "Ain't Gone 'n' Give Up On Love". That's all he had going for him, other than the undeserving hype that was awarded to him by mainstream media. The guy is a seriously overrated egomaniac who made a name for himself by the very things he is now apologizing for.

And why apologize? Did he not mean what he said? If not, then why did he say it? Of course he meant it. Perhaps he didn't mean it in the racist context that it has been taken as. I think I have to agree with James Poniewozik of Time magazine when he wrote of Imus' thought process as, "a 66-year-old white male country-music fan rummaging in his subconscious for something to suggest that some young black women looked scary, and coming up with a reference to African-American hair and a random piece of rap slang."

Since it was a sexist and racist statement made about women who hadn't done anything to deserve it, and since it was circulated by Media Matters for America to those women's and civil-rights groups that approve {selectively} of censorship, the outrage was off the scale and feeding off itself. The mainstream media bought it up and whipped it up into at least 10 times the story it ever should have been. What I find hypocritical about all this is that anti-gay remarks are typically overlooked.

I found this blog entry very interesting. In fact, for the most part, I totally agree with it. The author brings up many of the things that I've been thinking about since this fiasco over Imus' remarks first broke and the outcry ensued. I've wondered where has the outrage been with Imus past anti-gay remarks, and the hateful garbage by idiotic bigots like Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, . Oh sure, some people made a big issue out of Ann Coulter's bigoted remarks, and those from General Pace. Republican Sen. from Virginia John Warner made it clear that he disagreed with the General's statement, Hillary and Obama... not so much.

It seemed to me that what condemnation we did see outside the gay community about these homophobic remarks was more for scoring political points, going after General Pace because he is an apologist for Bush and his war, and then of course blasting Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter et al. because, well, it's Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and those of their pathetic ilk. Does anymore need to be said? But most weren't really going after them because these insulting statements were seen as insulting as the racist variety. I think the double-standard is very telling about the 'tolerance' that truly exists of homosexuals. It's often mere lip-service; being PC for the sake of being PC.

I realize that some say that racist comments are worse than homophobic, for whatever rationale they choose to offer, but obviously not everyone agrees.

Now I should make it clear that even though Don Imus has made anti-gay remarks in the past I've never called for him to be fired for it. I think Imus deserves all the criticism that he's getting. But silencing people for saying things that are insensitive, insulting, even hateful? The concept of protecting speech and expression isn't rooted in protecting that speech which is popular or acceptable, it is designed to protect the unpopular — that which the majority abhors.

What's done is done. He's fired, he'll back, big damn deal. No loss in Imus' show being no more. The only loss here is what sort of precedent it sets. Who's next? Conservative blowhards beware! But who else should beware? All of us who don't conform to politically correct standards.

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