Friday, April 13, 2007

My Thoughts on Imus

As hard as I might try, I cannot separate my thoughts from the media storm that is Don Imus.

I'd like to thank CBS Radio for not standing up for the First Amendment. They showed a lot of courage in making their decision - knowing that it may cost them in advertiser's dollars. The easy thing to do would have been to say, You know what? Don Imus has been making ridiculous statements for over 35 years on the radio. That's why he's known as the original "shock jock." Yes, what he said about the Rutgers was offensive, but in the end, he was basically saying that Candace Parker is better looking than anyone on the Rutgers team. Now we could fold under the pressure of political crybabies like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, as well as the pressure of advertisers pulling their sponsorship, but we felt that it was more important to stand up for the United States Constitution, notably the First Amendment, which provides for the freedom of speech & expression - not freedom of hearing or freedom from being offended.

As I was driving into work this morning, a local radio DJ reported Imus' firing, and then said that people are saying that if this is the standard, then it has to be applied to everybody across the board. I realize that people are saying that (i.e. Keith Olbermann), but they're flat out wrong. The only conclusion you could draw in that regard is that CBS should apply this standard to each of their radio hosts and media outlets. This was not a government mandated firing, as if Imus broke any law, but was ultimately the free market, capitalist decision of a private company. It sets no legal precedent, and the way CBS runs their ship does not mean that all Radio companies (or all companies altogether) have to be run the same way.

Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of CBS Corporation, released a statement, which included the following highlights:
there has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society.
the integrity of our Company and the respect that you feel for CBS becomes the most important consideration.
In taking him off the air, I believe we take an important and necessary step not just in solving a unique problem, but in changing that culture, which extends far beyond the walls of our Company.

I want to thank all those who came to see us to express their views. We are now presented with a significant opportunity to expand on our record on issues of diversity, race and gender. We intend to seize that opportunity as we move forward together.
CBS Corporation used to be known as Viacom (where Moonves served as co-President and co-chief operating officer), until their split at the end of 2005. Viacom still operates such TV networks as MTV, VH1, Spike TV, and BET. Moonves is missing out on being able to clean up the garbage on those networks that makes Imus' comments pale in comparison. We'll have to see if Viacom President & CEO Tom Freston has any desire to clean up his networks. And Moonves is still in position to clean up Showtime, if he so desires. I'm guessing this "opportunity to expand on our record on issues of diversity, race and gender" that Moonves identifies stops with radio, if not Imus himself.

Stepping back and taking a look at the big picture of free speech, and freedom in general, some questions come to mind. Will we ever come to a time where groups like the ACLU, and "activists" like Jackson & Sharpton will actually stand up for the civil liberties of everybody, regardless of race, gender, or any other so-called "protected class"? Will we ever come to a time where justice will actually be blind in practice, not just in theory? Will we ever come to a time where we don't need "protected classes" because every person will actually be judged on the content of their character, not on some isolated trait that allows them to be placed neatly in a group? I'm guessing no, but I'm hopeful. Part of the reason I'm hopeful in the wake of Imus' comments is Jason Whitlock. In addition to his column I mentioned in my previous post, he hit another one out of the park with this column, saying, "I’m calling for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the president and vice president of Black America, to step down." Again, I could quote the whole article, but I'll leave you with Whitlock's conclusion and encourage you to take the time to read the whole column.
We have more important issues to deal with than Imus. If we are unwilling to clean up the filth and disrespect we heap on each other, nothing will change with our condition. You can fire every Don Imus in the country, and our incarceration rate, fatherless-child rate, illiteracy rate and murder rate will still continue to skyrocket.

A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him.

We don’t respect ourselves right now. If we did, we wouldn’t call each other the N-word. If we did, we wouldn’t let people with prison values define who we are in music and videos. If we did, we wouldn’t call black women bitches and hos and abandon them when they have our babies.

If we had the proper level of self-respect, we wouldn’t act like it’s only a crime when a white man disrespects us. We hold Imus to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. That’s a (freaking) shame.

We need leadership that is interested in fixing the culture we’ve adopted. We need leadership that makes all of us take tremendous pride in educating ourselves. We need leadership that can reach professional athletes and entertainers and get them to understand that they’re ambassadors and play an important role in defining who we are and what values our culture will embrace.

It’s time for Jesse and Al to step down. They’ve had 25 years to lead us. Other than their accountants, I’d be hard pressed to find someone who has benefited from their administration.

1 comment:

Noah Braymen said...

This entire situation is so double sided it's ridiculous.