Don Imus has got to go. By now you have likely heard about the latest controversy surrounding Don Imus. If you haven’t, here is a synopsis. Last week on the air he referred to the women of the mostly black Rutgers women’s basketball team as a bunch of “nappy headed ho’s” sparking days of apologies as well as the requisite protests and speeches from many black leaders including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who have called for his immediate resignation. In response his station, as of this posting, has decided to suspend the shock jock for two weeks, which is, in my opinion, like that of many others, not enough of a punishment.
I am not a fan of censorship. Nor do I think everyone who says something stupid on the air should be fired. But in the case of Imus, this is not the first time. He has said other stupid, racist, sexist, and generally ignorant things on the air over his many years on the airwaves. At some point, enough is enough and I think this is enough, particularly when you’re talking abut federally regulated airwaves. Were Imus on satellite radio, like Stern, then I would give him more room for his idiocy. But these are public airwaves where he spews these hurtful statements and in that context it should not be allowed. He should be fired immediately.
This morning Imus appeared on The Today Show in an effort to further defend himself, but in doing so, he may have hurt himself even more. In an interesting strategy, he went on the offensive and made the point that while he had no right to use the word “ho’s” as a white man, he said the most common users of this word were black men who were the worst offenders at disrespecting black women. What an interesting strategy. It won’t get him off the hot seat. Nice try.
But with that being said, on this point, Imus is right on target. Black (and Latino) rappers frequently use this word, and many worse ones, in some of the popular raps being gobbled up by record buyers. And Imus is right; the word was largely the invention of blacks. Jesse and Al will not however spend as much energy challenging the immensely popular hip-hopsters as they do Imus for his use of the word. It would be too touchy a battle for them. It is easier to go after Imus since he is white and he violated the code that says though we can talk disparagingly about ourselves, you cannot if you are not part of the community. The “N” word is the same way. Rappers and some blacks use that word all the time, but boy don’t let Kramer think he can use it. It doesn’t work that way. Or at least that seems to be the code.
By the way, Imus’s offensive defense ignores what may have been as equally offensive in his rantings about the Rutger’s team, calling them “nappy headed.” His new strategy ignored that part of his statement entirely. At least for now, until he can find a rap or something where he can say he learned that from black people.