Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What's So Terrible About Don Imus?

I don't understand the uproar over Don Imus calling several black female sports players "nappy headed hoes." It's no worse than much of what Howard Stern has been saying for years on his radio and TV shows. Is it because Stern has a black female sidekick, Robin Quivers? Does Quivers grant Stern a license that Imus lacks?

For that matter, Imus's remark is nothing we haven't heard over and over from hundreds of rappers and standup comics. And not just from black comics. Carlos Mencia specializes in "offensive" racial humor. So, do rappers and comics enjoy a special license that Imus lacks? But Imus too is a satirist, as are Stern and Mencia.

Unlike Imus and Mencia, Rosie O'Donnell is no satirist. She's the self-proclaimed "Queen of Nice." Yet she survived the controversy of her "Ching Chong" remark with little problem. Is it because she's perceived as being pretty far to the Left? But Imus is also perceived as liberal, if not Left. Is it because O'Donnell is a lesbian, whereas Imus is a white male? But Stern is also a white male, and one who's perceived as further to the Right than is Imus. So why are O'Donnell and Stern off the hook, but not Imus?

As for Imus's critics, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have said worse racist remarks, and they're not satirists, but supposedly responsible community leaders.

More than anything, it's the sheer arbitrariness of the uproar over Imus that I don't understand. It seems that all of society can say the same offensive remarks for years on end, but then someone is arbitrarily chosen to be "it." The sacrificial goat who must be killed to atone for everyone else's sins. Who then, after the sacrifice, continue saying the same offensive remarks with no price to pay.

Really strange.

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