I want to Stop I Really Do
Someone needs to be the one to start not talking about Imus any longer. But a couple of thoughts are stuck in my head - coming up every time I turn the TV or radio on, since it's all anyone talks about.
1) We have heard, and will continue to hear, worse things than Imus said coming from the likes of Rush and Howard Stern to name a couple. We expect that kind of racist/sexist ridicule from them. So, what's different here? I think the difference is not about Imus; it's about the happy fraternity of politicians and reporters who happily went on his show day after day, knowing he has said outrageous things. They are the ones that raised his profile as a legitimate place for serious people, probably because it felt fun to be cutting edge funny (or whatever). Now that he's done what he - pretty much - always does and been called on it, they're running for cover as if they're shocked. Why are they not regulars on Howard Stern's show? Some version of the same concerns should have made them think twice about being the I-man's best friend.
2) What about the other guy in the conversation? Imus was trying to make a point he though interesting or funny, about the fact that the Rutgers team looked tough, and the UT team looked glamorous. The other guy chimed in - about them then being "hardcore hos" (probably in his mind emphasizing the hardcore half of the statement) and Imus without blinking added the only other description he's ever heard modify "hos" - "nappy-headed." My point is - the other guy is on the radio too. Shouldn't he be getting equal treatment? One of Imus' problems over the years, if I understand correctly, is his unwillingness to get that guy under control on the air. I can only assume that's because he thinks he's funny.
3) I'm a bit sick of everyone talking about this great moment we have to address this issue as a country now. Remember Clinton's "Sister Souljah moment"? When was that, 1992? The same moment. I don't know if racism in America can or will be successfully addressed, or what that would even look like. But I feel confident it won't happen like this: with a sensationalized news drama and a renewed national commitment to deal with it. In the same way, comedians and black artists aren't going to stop using the n-word suddenly because of Michael Richards being an asshole. We may spend a week or so talking about dealing with it. But we don't know how to deal with it. That's the problem.
4 and then I'm done with this) Imus defenders should stop their whining about him losing his job. The guy just got 100 times more well-known than he ever was before. It's the best publicity he's ever gotten in his life. He couldn't have planned a roll-out to a satellite radio show - which he'll surely get - any better. He and his charities will make more money - and he will have more freedom - than he ever had on syndicated radio and a little-watched cable news channel. If he's smart he'll sign his next contract as soon as possible, while the buzz is still in the air.