Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The whole Don Imus thing

I'm having a real problem with the whole Don Imus controversy. Yes, I know there are probably more important world issues to be blogging about than the firing of a shock-jock-talk radio host, however I can't help but be bothered by the hypocrisy of the whole thing.

For those of you living under a rock, Imus was fired recently over some comments he made on the air, referring to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed ho's". It was a less than tasteful attempt to refer, I gather, to the toughness and/or the imposing physical stature of the women. Offensive as the lexicon might have been, I don't think it was Imus' express intent to insult or belittle the team. I honestly think he was making an attempt to give the team a backhanded compliment.

Apparently, "nappy-headed" refers to the natural, untreated hairstyle of black (I hate the term "African-American") women, and...well...everyone knows what the connotation and denotation of the expression "ho" (short form for "whore") are. As much as anyone else, I think Imus had been desensitized to the significance of the word, as it has become ubiquitous particularly in the so-called "rap and hip-hop culture". And here's where the hypocrisy comes in.

Few have been the people who have called for the firing/cancelling of recording contracts of rap artists who sling the term "ho" (also "bitch" and "nigger") around like snowballs in the playground. Occasionally, you get the Tipper Gore anti-rock lyric types who raise objections, but I don't see artists like JaRule and Tupac and Eminem losing their jobs, much less any sleep, over the issue. I would certainly be much more prepared to listen to the likes of Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, if they were to turn the spotlight on this segment of society who, to this point, have been immune to the collective hysterical disapprobation which did Don Imus in.

Why is it that rappers get off and Imus doesn't? Dare I suggest that the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world turn a blind eye to the rap community on the grounds of race? Do they look the other way because they don't want to be seen as bringing a fellow black man down? Is Imus a more convenient target because he is white?

Don't get me wrong. As someone who has coached female athletics for more than ten years, I feel very uncomfortable when women athletes are referred to as "ho's" as the most pointed way to describe their athletic prowess. I like to think that the English languages offers a lot more. However, I think an apology on the part of Mr. Imus would have sufficed. Unfortunately, Mr. Imus failed to realize that it is this sort of thing that becomes a make-work project for the blowhards, such as the Reverends Jackson and Sharpton. They seem to make a career in the spotlight of righteous indignation.

But until they become less selective, for the sake of politically correct convenience, in their targets of disapprobation, I prefer to ignore their shrill cries.....except insofar as they have inspired me to blog about the hypocrisy of it all.

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