Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Imus Untimeous

OK, so it's not local.   But we find disturbing and wrong the prospect that disgraced -- for so we should regard him -- radio host Don Imus may soon be back on the air.

Imus used a racially-tinged insult in referring to a largely African-American women's college basketball team. The words themselves may not have been as blatant as the racist tirade of comedian Michael Richards about a year ago, or as Mel Gibson's anti-semitic rant about the same time. But we think they earned Imus a permanent place in life's penalty box of social ostracism along with Richards and Gibson.

When someone pulls a stunt like Imus or Richards or Gibson, our reaction is pretty consistent. After the initial shock at the sheer ugliness of the thing, we have to wonder: Who do these people think they are to talk that way, either to or about someone else?

The racism alone is bad enough. But the attitude makes it worse. A member of the Michael Richards audience, interviewed by CNN, nailed it:

Basically: "I'm rich. I don't care what you think. I have enough money to have you arrested."

It's a form of bullying. Imus has the power of a national microphone. He wielded it rudely, recklessly disregarding the feelings of some young women who had just accomplished something challenging and admirable.

Then this moron unloads. We use the term deliberately, for Imus is of the age, has the experience, and knows of the responsibility demanded by the power of his microphone, to have known better. This idea of the powerful man deliberately upsetting young, powerless women is what bothers us as much as the racial tinge of the insult. It's what places Imus in the same category as Richards and Gibson, though his words themselves may not have been as inflammatory.

Call us old-fashioned.   You'd be right.

And Don Imus should be off the air for good.

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