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11 April 2007

Rutgers U. Press Conference

Update: I almost didn't post this because I'm sick of the wall-to-wall coverage on Imus, when far more important things are happening, as I describe here. I didn't want my post to be part of the problem; ah, well. Check out the comments: some good points are made...but my main reaction to this is still that it is an overblown distraction from critical issues, one of which is discussed at length in the link above, another of which is alluded to at the end.

Well, I think it should be obvious that I didn't think Imus' comments were funny, and the comments themselves were sexist and racist. Whether Imus himself is, I don't know; let's say, sure.

OK, has everyone forgotten about freedom of speech?

Why is Imus piled on for "nappy-headed hos" (and not the far worse "jigaboo," btw), which was unfunny, offensive, but killed no one, yet Michael Gordon and Judith Miller -- and many of the same pundits tsk-tsking now -- whose lies have helped lead to nearly a million deaths, are A-OK? Not to mention that Glenn Beck, Coulter, Limbaugh, Hannity, Michael Savage, et al, are just fine. They actually pretend to be news people.

Don't like Imus? Don't listen! I never do; what do you expect from Imus? What's worrying is his huge audience, which implies what we all know: the pervasiveness of racism and sexism. Silencing Imus won't do a damn thing about that.

This is the biggest story now? Iran? No big deal. Pure Chomskyan "flak".

What bothers me is the rush from left and right to hinder speech. Yes, even hateful speech. Unless you defend the right of speech you despise, you're not for free speech. It's easy to defend speech you agree with or which doesn't offend you.

Listen carefully to this press conference. "I want to suggest that right-thinking people give thought before they speak." The coach. Right-thinking people? Sounds like what so-called liberals rightly shrank from when Bushites said that after 9/11.

The excerpt on Democracy Now piqued my interest: somehow Comedy Central (!) and rap music is responsible? And on NPR, I heard someone say that Imus' comments were organically related to the reported fifth-grader sex in an empty classroom in Florida.

It's very easy to say, "Bad speech!" It's a lot harder to do what's necessary to fight the root causes of racism and sexism. Since all that matters is what "it's about," it's not about being offended, it's about higher black infant mortality, it's about 1 in 3 black males incarcerated or to be incarcerated, it's about women making 80% of men's salaries, still. It's about any number of economic and social realities, the solutions to which require major changes. Tough changes. Changes that the commentariat that is up in arms about Imus wouldn't support for two seconds. The hypersentimentality over how awful Imus' words were doesn't have the space or time for these larger issues. Of course.

No, I'm not taking the rightwing position of screeching "political correctness" as a cover for agreeing with speech such as Imus'. I defend chocolate Christs and all such things. Not that it makes a difference, strictly speaking, but avant-garde (political or artistic) expression is the first up against the wall when speech is limited.

7 comments:

  1. I agree. But there is a difference between detesting The Grand Establishment Of Politically Correct Speech which ruins people who don't adhere to "correct speech," and governmental limitation. If we're honest, Imus is only being hunted (and beaten down) by the former; yet it's the latter - who are leaving him alone - to whom the insistence upon freedom of speech is directed. So, no one is doing anything wrong here. Imus is simply getting his for saying stupid things. But is the government limiting his speech? Not at all.

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  2. This is a good point that a friend of mine also reminded me of.

    But there may be an FCC action...

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. This is an interesting debate. Should the FCC go after Imus, then there must be cries to go after Coulter, Savage and the rest of these types of trash talkers; and Limbaugh too, of course.

    Maybe we'll see where the gov't. stands, if Imus should appeal his being fired, citing freedom of speech.

    I don't know; perhaps there should be rules about cheap shots, like the John Edwards/faggot remark. They fined Janet Jackson for her faux pas, perhaps that would be enough here.

    Boy, I bet he's some pissed at himself; one of those "if only" moments.

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  4. I found this quote, re: Imus:

    "Imus is free to speak his mind. He can say what he wants to say ... He shouldn't have his feelings hurt just because some people don't want to listen to his show when he speaks out ... Freedom is a two-way street ... I ... don't really care what Imus said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people, and if some radio personalities or TV pundits feel like speaking out, that's fine. That's the great thing about America. It stands in stark contrast to Iraq..."

    Actually, I lied. That was a slightly edited version of what Bush said about the Dixie Chicks a few years ago -- I just switched the nouns and pronouns to make it as analogous as possible (from Wikipedia, Dixie Chicks):

    "The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say ... They shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out ... Freedom is a two-way street ... I ... don't really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people, and if some singers or Hollywood stars feel like speaking out, that's fine. That's the great thing about America. It stands in stark contrast to Iraq..."

    They, too, were not jailed, but did suffer economic boycotts, and such. What's the difference, aside from my opinion that the Dixie Chicks' speech was right on and showed horror at impending death, and that Imus' was obnoxious and racist? Didn't kill anyone, though.

    On what basis was what happened to the Dixie Chicks different than what is happening to Imus, from a free-speech standpoint?

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  5. Hey, hallie:

    Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

    I think you point out how slippery regulating speech can be. It's interesting to watch left and right do their dance on this issue, circling around and taking more or less the same basic position on different types of speech.

    Thanks!

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  6. It's not different at all. It's simply how free speech is supposed to work. People say what they want, and private citizens react. If hypocrites like Sharpton benefit, it's only because the culture tolerates them, which is society's problem. But, in both situations, the government stayed out, forces within the culture reacted, and no one got hurt. Perfect!

    Look, the Dixie Chicks even ultimately benefited greatly by the hubbub, as the Grammies were a complete Dixie Chick love-fest (a resounding if stupid 'Feh' to the hoi polloi and their meaningless opinions!). Anyone expect Imus to be heralded on one of Big Media's self-congratulatory awards shows? Don't count on it.

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  7. LW: Just out of curiosity, what do you personally think of what Imus said?

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