Since everyone has been doling out apologies so freely as of late, I’d like to demand a few myself:
1. I’d like an apology from the media for leading with this story despite the fact that there is a war afoot.
2. I’d like an apology from the parents of the Rutgers women’s basketball team for never teaching their children the “sticks and stones” spiel.
3. I’d like an apology from Don Imus personally for forcing me to spy his grim visage ad nauseum for the past week.
4. And finally, I’d like an apology from Jesse Jackson, whose existence only serves to remind me that he remains alive while Martin Luther King, Jr. is dead.
You know who the real victim is in all this mess? Don Imus’ wife. Her sex life probably recalls the climactic scene in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Truthfully, the real victim is free speech, a now diminishing concept. As the pressure gets ratcheted up another notch by the parasitic media and various publicity whores, this non story is now turning into a pissing contest between Al Sharpton and Don Imus, two people who could be shot into the sun for all I care. Al Sharpton is not fighting racism; he is fighting freedom of speech.
Don Imus and his ilk are the price you pay for living in a freewheeling democracy. If you want your media and speech regulated by authority figures, move to some despotic country of your choosing. Sharpton speaks of regulating the public airwaves, as though he comprises the public itself. As hard as it is to believe, some people enjoy Don Imus and his brand of racist-grandpa humor. That’s their right, whether you agree with it or not.
Although Don Imus is most likely a racist, this was not an instance of racism. No action was taken; Imus didn’t deny these girls a loan; he didn’t banish them to the back of the bus. He insulted them, plain and simple. In my experience, it’s probably best to let insults roll off your back. If not, you’ll spend the whole of your life being offended. Shouldn’t a full time college student have more important things to worry about than what some walking corpse has to say on a radio program that they most likely didn’t listen to in the first place?
Also, for all the supposed hurt and anguish caused by Imus’ phrase, it sure has been repeated a lot by those who claim to condemn it. Wouldn’t it be better to just ignore this man rather than rehashing the whole ridiculous incident over and over? All this does is divide us even further. It gives the impression to black Americans that all white Americans are racist (which we are not). It gives the impression to white Americans that all black Americans seek preferential treatment (which they do not). The bottom line is that we are all the same. No one likes to be insulted. Is an insult dealing with ethnicity any better or worse than one focusing on appearance or intellect or character? I would posit that it’s actually easier to deal with a “racist” insult, as it speaks volumes about the character of the person doing the insulting, rather than the person being insulted. After all, would you belittle someone for being left handed or having brown hair?
Race is a superficial and meaningless concept. There is no black and white culture, only American culture. There are no African-Americans or European-Americans, only Americans. The concept of race has absolutely no scientific basis and the actual differences we possess are so trivial that they shouldn’t amount to any more than a misunderstanding.
However, racism will never be defeated because you’re dealing with people and their beliefs. You can't force people to abandon their beliefs, no matter how misguided and atavistic they may be (see also: religion). Attempting to do so will only exacerbate the situation and make others resentful. Al Sharpton has labeled NBC racist for mostly employing white hosts for their programming. First of all, way to fry those big fish, Sharpton; a lot of bearing that has on the average person. Secondly, why wasn't this addressed previously? If this was such a issue, why weren't Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al at NBC talking with the studio heads about their hiring practices before Imus spouted his comment? Why is it only when there is publicity to be had that these two come crawling out from under their respective rocks?
Going after rappers and others who used language similar to Imus is not the solution, either. Consider that the largest consumers of rap music are young white males; obviously not Sharpton's target demographic. Are they also victims? Rap music is a highly stylized form of entertainment. Instead of blaming it for all of society’s ills, perhaps we should inform young people that it's for entertainment purposes only, not to be taken seriously or something to aspire to. It's the same argument used in the '80s and '90s against heavy metal music and its ability to turn mangy white kids into devil worshipping maniacs. It didn't make sense in that instance, and it doesn't make sense in this one.
Regulating speech, for any reason, is a disastrous proposition. Very few people find what Imus said appealing and it truly would be no great loss if he was never heard from again. But what I wonder and fear is this: who’s next?
Stacie Adams is an unassuming and introverted young woman with plans to take over the world and make it tolerable. Her heroes are few, but precious: Bill Hicks, Nat Turner, Orson Welles, and Hunter S. Thompson. She detests useless celebrity, bureaucracy, and unfettered stupidity. "I am disgustingly provincial and I’ve never stepped foot outside the US, but it is my dream to travel the world. My favorite beer is Red Stripe, my favorite movie Irreversible. I’ve seen Evil Dead 2 over 100 times. I am an encyclopedia of trivial facts and figures." She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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