Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Imus: "I need to grow up"

Two days after commenting on the final game of the women's NCAA basketball tournament between Rutgers and Tennessee (The Lady Vols won), radio and TV talk show host Don Imus admitted he did something wrong.

When talking about the nation's top two women's basketball teams duking it out for the championship - he overlooked their skills and abilities, which got them college scholarships for bringing their talent and gift of athleticism to each school, not to mention the the sacrifice and dedication of the women to their sport and academic achievements.

It was clear he had no respect for them as people, as women or as athletes, let alone champions.

For some reason, Imus felt compelled to evaluate the Rutgers women.

"That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they've got tattoos." he said.

His executive producer Bernard McGuirk added, "Some hard-core ho's."

Imus concluded, "That's some nappy-headed ho's there. I'm going to tell you that now."

To say Rutgers - and the world - were shocked by his bigoted, hurtful, degrading and infantile remarks is an understatement.

A tsunami of outrage poured in from even the most reasoned, docile sports fan and listener. They refused to sit by and tolerate the verbal atrocity.

I have a feeling perhaps the person most amazed by the response is Don Imus himself.

I've heard him defended by people who said we should remember him for his 40 years of work rather than this one absusive racist, sexist incident.

If it had been just this one incident?

I would say right. Destructive speech like this is a good lesson for everyone because of all the discussion it creates, and therefore education it brings about.

I'm all for the First Amendment and freedom of speech and don't want to see people fired for a single speech offense - even though several media personalities have been terminated in the past for saying much less offensive things.

But it wasn't just this one incident.

I won't repeat them on my blog because they are grieviously offensive - but this linked Chicago Sun-Times column by Jesse Jackson does. And after discovering all the other times Imus and his executive producer have said outrageously cruel racist and sexist comments over the years?

I say enough.

After apologizing many times, including on Al Sharpton's radio program, it's reported that Imus critics don't believe he understands why people are so angry at him - he's more concerned that he became the target of such volatile anger.

"I'm a good person," he has repeated, "who said a very bad thing."

But reports of his past extreme offenses over the years reveals a pattern of belief and behavior for which he has never done more than apologize - and apparently insincerely because he continued to do the same thing over again.

Imus has been suspended from his CBS radio/MSNBC-TV simulcast talk show for two weeks beginning this coming Monday. But indeed, CBS and MSNBC are partly to blame for not taking action much earlier, since his pattern of behavior has been established much earlier than this.

He says that the content of his show will be redirected because of this lesson. The question is whether his audience willingly listens to such things, and the audience has spoken loudly.

My problem is that he's had a million chances to change after being caught all the other times when he claimed he *knew* he said something "bad" then went on to continue to say things similar and worse.

Further it took him TWO DAYS to apologize for his comments - apparently having no idea after he said them that he had done something hideously wrong.

The only way his program will change is for him to go through the painful metamorphasis we all have to in order to deal with any bigoted ideas, beliefs and actions we've held in the past or may currently harbor.

Unfortunately, media usually totally screw this sort of dilemma up with their programming solutions.

They suddenly feature as guests a rash of visible minorities, gender/racial bias activists or politicians who want to make points by proclaiming their anti-racist, anti-sexist points of view or others whose rap we not only know but aren't really interested to hear again.

The program loses the personality of the host, which is why people tune in.

The whole point of redemption is to keep on doing his program "his way," but without racist, sexist comments. The question is whether "his way" necessarily includes racist or sexist comments.

He said it himself: "I have to grow up."

Again, the question is why he waited until he is 66 years old to decide to deal with his maturity.

Meanwhile, I'm sure one person laughing at all this falderal, someone who gets away with needlessly cruel, abusive, negative, racist and sexist remarks all the time is master lout and former drug addict Rush Limbaugh.

As odious as this man's words are, no one's talking about pulling his chain or his microphone plug.

Maybe that's because fewer people are listening.

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