A commenter asked for our thoughts on the Don Imus affair, and we shall be happy to oblige. As you probably know, Imus, who has a syndicated radio program which is simulcast on MSNBC, last Wednesday referred to the Rutgers University ladies’ basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." The predictable cries of racism and sexism were sent through all the land, and Imus has been condemned by all and sundry. Imus apologized, and his bosses have suspended him for two weeks.
That, of course, is not nearly enough for professional grievance-mongers and moral superiors such as Al Sharpton, who have demanded that Imus be fired altogether. Whether a return to use of the stocks or the lash is soon to be called for, one can only wonder.
What Imus called those young ladies is stupid and insulting, and I cannot think how he could possibly have imagined, even for a moment, that they merited such scornful treatment on national radio and tv (not that anyone actually watches MSNBC).
Even worse, Imus’s choice of words was neither clever nor amusing. Like Ann Coulter’s backhanded reference to Sen. John Edwards as a faggot, Imus just shot his mouth off without giving a moment’s attention to his wording so as to make it interesting and amusing.
That is a misdeed not to be forgiven.
I mean that.
I can think of a myriad of witty ways to describe a group of basketball players whom I don’t like, but I shall keep them to myself at present, this being neither the t nor the p.
The real insult here is the insult Imus and other such jabbering tomcats offer day after day: the insult to our intelligence and taste.
Disrespectful and ignorant descriptions of the sort he blurted out last Wednesday have long been his stock in trade. His show is vulgar and stupid on a regular basis, and always has been so.
He should have been canned long ago for being a bore and a philistine.
To fire him now, however, would send a bad message to everyone. The message is, it’s OK to insult anyone in any way you want, except for two classes of people.
To do so would designate these two groups of people as too weak to defend themselves in a fair duel of wits.
That is an outrageous characterization and is antithetical to a just society.
It is, in fact, just as bad as anything Imus can be thought to have suggested in his epithet.
Hence, this is not the right time to fire him.
The right course should be to wait for the next outrageous statement he makes on the air, and then fire him.
Then it will be clear that he is being fired for the right reasons, and the action will send the right message to everyone: be as snide and creepy as you want, but at least put some thought into it.