Daily Archives: April 12, 2007

Imus Controversy

For the record, I am a white male. But I do have a number of African American friends, and I don’t like the use of derogatory language no matter who uses it. That is why it seems like the whole Don Imus debacle misses the point.

Sure, what Imus said was uncalled for and inappropriate. These women appear to be smart as well as athletic. They certainly don’t deserve the negative statement that Imus made.

In my opinion, the biggest problem with Imus’ words is not that he said those offensive remarks. The larger issue is that these women didn’t fit the slang words at all. They are the antithesis of what he said.

Senator Hillary Clinton said that Imus “crossed the line.” I agree with her. But it is no different than much of what classifies as “entertainment” any more. From shock jocks to crass comedians to extremely inappropriate rap and hip-hop lyrics and videos, the public airwaves are filled with tons of stuff a lot worse than Imus’ comments.

I believe if the word is offensive. It shouldn’t be used or condoned by anyone. It is kind of like the “N” word being use by African Americans.  In college, some of my black friends used this word or derivations of it to talk to each other. I asked why they used it. They said it was slang. I asked why I couldn’t use it. They said because I was white. Now, I had no desire to use the “N”word. But I feel like it seems disingenuous to make a big deal about words and then use those words just because you are a woman or a minority.

I am no Don Imus apologists. He has never seemed to be a great radio host or TV personality from my perspective. But he is a shock jock who is paid to be edgy and try to be funny. Some people find his brand of “entertainment” to be funny. I have never listened to him for more than a couple of minutes. 

All of the media attention seems unwarranted since there are so many more important issues going on in the world than the rants of one shock jock. Yet major media outlets have made it a big deal. What about Darfur, proliferation of nuclear weapons, environmental issues, pandemic diseases, human right violations around the globe, etc. Words can hurt. But that is nothing compared to the number of people who are abused, assaulted and even killed around the world every year due to their faith, race, age, social class, etc.

Don Imus is not the cause of America’s obsession with lude and inappropriate humor. He is merely a sample of what is wrong with our society. This has brought attention to the fact that much of our entertainment demeans women as nothing more than sex objects.

There does appear to be a double standard when it comes to things like rap and hip-hop. Cussing to a beat is not art no matter what the “artists” have to say about it.

CNN recently carried a piece on the apparent double standard over offensive words and depictions. Time covered this angle too. In a speech after CBS fired Imus, Sharpton admitted that Imus was not the only one guilty of this improper speech. He called on black artists to consider how their lyrics depict women. So at least that’s a start.  

The simple lesson is that we should be careful what we say. This is especially true for public celebrities. The Bible identifies that life and death exist in the power of the tongue. We should all be careful what we say just to try to get a cheap laugh or impress someone else.

On the other side of the issue, none of us are ever going to be perfect in what we say. This includes the Rev. Al Sharpton.

As a result, we should be apt to forgive and let things go when people apologize. I don’t think that Jesus would have called for Imusto be fired as much as He would have tried to restore him. Jesus didn’t call Zacchaeus to resign. He inspired him to make amends and live a God-fearing, people loving life. That’s a better end to the story.