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Friday, April 13, 2007

Imus Be Dreaming 

I had nearly given up on updating this blog a while back, but now there's something in the news I feel I must comment on...and in the process am rediscovering how good it feels to vent here. I guess that means Murky Depth lives. Huzzah.

On April 4th, famed radio personality Don Imus made the following controversial comment in regards to the (mostly black) Rutgers Womens' Basketball team:

"Them's some nappy-headed hoes."

The comment immediately drew fire from a handful of self-righteous, moral crusaders, (led by bad-hair extraordinaire Al Sharpton) who apparently want to make it their business if Imus is a racist or a sexist. They immediately sought to censor him in every way possible, from demanding an apology from him (which he made the mistake of doing, only adding publicity to an already volatile story) and demanding that CBS fire him from his radio show, which he has run for 30 years. On April 12, CBS did just that.

"I think we've got to really used this to really stop this across the board," Al Sharpton said in response to Imus' being fired. I think this quote perfectly illustrates Sharpton's state of mind. Seriously, if you can figure out what the hell he was trying to say, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear some possible translations.

Having never listened to Imus and not agreeing with his comments about the Rutgers' team, I still can't help but hang my head at the thought of another victory for censorship. I find this case remarkably similar to two other cases of the past few years:

Bill Maher: In 2002, the host the popular ABC (Comedy Central prior to that) TV talk show Politically Incorrect, Bill Maher was debating with a conservative guest on whether or not members of Al Quaeda should be considered cowards, considering they actually willingly die for their cause. Maher made the following argument:

"We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."

There was immediate public outcry over Maher's alleged "Anti-American" statement, including demands that he apologize and that he be fired. Although Maher never apologized for making the statement, per se, he did apologize for any misunderstanding on the part of the viewers, claiming that he was accusing politicians and generals of cowardice, not actually the soldiers. Nevertheless, ABC allowed the contract on Politically Incorrect to run out the next year without a renewal. However, Maher did not disappear: He went on to develop Real Time With Bill Maher, a similarly themed but far less restrained show on HBO. Maher is also still a popular stand-up comedian and a (very) frequent guest on CNN's ever-popular Larry King Live.

The Dixie Chicks. This Dallas-based female pop/country act made headlines in early 2003 when, during a concert in London, lead singer Natalie Maines made the following intro to the song "Travelin' Soldier":

"Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."

Once again, there was immediate public outcry. How dare these women have the nerve to criticize our President, in front of a foreign audience no less? This will obviously "embolden" the enemy. Because you just know there's some Middle Eastern man in a cave somewhere, wiping away a tear of joy when he learns of the fact that the Dixie Chicks are on the side of Allah. He would spring forth with newfound resolve, grab his Kalishnikov, and head straight out to meet with his co-conspirators, all of whom will begin furthering their plot to poison the water supply in San Francisco.

Although radio stations all over the country began holding public demonstrations destroying the Chick's CDs and merchandise and making it clear that they would never again play their music, Maines finally caved and offered a weak apology for "disrespecting" the asshole she criticized in the first place. However, she was also adamant that she still meant it.

After disappearing for a couple of years, The Dixie Chicks released an album in 2006 entitled Taking the Long Way, with a single called "Not Ready to Make Nice." The song was a rather blatant shot back at the bands critics, and despite minimal radio airplay was apparently powerful enough to attract much media attention to the band's new album: The album went gold within one week, and as of 2007 the Chicks had earned multiple Grammys: Best Album, Best Record (apparently those are two separate awards), and Best Song (for "Not Ready to Make Nice"). After their Grammy win, the Chicks' album hit #8 on the Billboard 200 and their single hit #4 on the Pop 100.

Maines even retracted her early apology, saying "I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President, but I don't feel that way anymore. I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever."

So, back to Don Imus. Imus, like Maher and the Chicks, made a controversial comment. Some might argue that the analogy between them is hard to follow, since his comments are harder to defend, but to that I reply: Harder to defend for whom? Certainly racists and sexists would have no problem defending it....or anyone who seeks to protect free speech.

I say: Let Imus have his show. I don't give a damn if he's a racist, sexist, homosexual, zoophile, Nazi, Satanist, or Green Party candidate. The guy can say whatever he wants, and those that don't like him don't have to listen. How about we all stop pretending we can eliminate bigotry in the world, finally accept that it's human nature, and rather than try to censor it, we do more to be aware of it?

You can't spell Optimus Prime without IMUS.



Besides, if there is one thing that he can learn from the cases of Bill Maher and the Dixie Chicks, it's that trying to censor controversial comments only increases attention to those who made them. I suspect that something similar will probably happen to Don Imus. He'll get another deal somewhere along the line, and probably maintain legions of fans (hell, probably gain some) for facing such hard-nosed adversity from the likes of Al Sharpton and his tens of followers (no, that's not a typo).

See you net-jackers next time, when I find something else to bitch about or chew over. Greasy-headed cracker, over and out.

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