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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Proof that the race is far from over

Consider this -- if Imus had blurted the F-word on his show, it would have resulted in an FCC fine. The f-word -- a word that's offensive and bad only because we've put it up on that pedestal. It's absolutely meaningless. Insted, he utters an ethnic slurr, defensible only by the racist, and what does the FCC do?

Yeah, we have a lot to learn about what should be deemed morally offensive and what we should protect our children from. Imagine if you can, being a 12-year old pimply black girl, trying to come to grips with her emerging sexuality, her sense of self and worth in a country that doesn't value her beauty, and then you hear this? First hand or second hand, it doesn't matter. Because when she walks down her junior high corridor, and one of the other kids shouts out "you nappy-headed ho" to the nervous and not-so-nervous laughter of her peers, well, you get the idea.

I just got a copy of Time magazine in the mail...and Imus is on the cover with a Post-it over his mouth that says "Who can say what?" If we, as a country, still have to ask, it's time to restart the civil rights movement.

Thankfully, I heard a number of major sponsers for the Imus show pulled out -- and I applaud them. Those who remain should be outed and boycotted. And as for his apology, apologies make me sick. Apologies are for loved ones, friends, and family members, not for entire races. If he hadn't meant those words, they would have been edited out before they hit the airwaves. If he hadn't meant them and harbored no ill will or hate, he wouldn't have said them. If he wasn't an asshole, he wouldn't have thought them funny.

Add Imus to my list of obscene words.

8 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've never listened to an Imus show and I feel like a better person for that. As far as I understand, he's been an ass since day 1. It's unfortunate that some people seem to enjoy hearing crap spew from the mouths of crappers.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I struggle with this. I never listened to Imus and I thought his whole statement was an obscenity.
I believe in responsible free speech, and Imus violated that responsibility, that trust.

What I struggle with is how the right and the left have used this issue. They have turned from the issue of inappropriate language and race and now made it about ideologies.

There is currently a swell of crazed righties going after another woman I don't listen to, Rosie ODonell. Is it perhaps some sort of communal revenge for comments made by the left about Ann Coulter? Rush Limbaugh?

Where does Imus fit into that? I'm not sure, but there is an intuitive alarm going off telling me this is all tied together somehow and it makes me uneeasy.

Kate S said...

As a female, I object to the term "ho" wherever it's applied, though in this case it was clearly being used as a racist slur. (The "nappy headed" gave it away - though being caucasion and with hair only a few curls away from being nappy itself, I could still take offense.) (:

My daughter listens to music that is degrading to women of all races - and is sung by men of all races. It makes me ill, and though I try to point it out to her, she just doesn't get it because it's so "acceptable". So while I think Imus's remark was disgusting, I also think it's only indicative of the larger problem.

Men and women of all races are guilty of perpetuating racist slurs (against others and their own) as well as tacitly agreeing that it's ok to degrade and violate women. Their choice of entertainment proves it. Why do we say it's okay for musicians to call women bitches and "ho's" and to call one another by the N-word? How is that acceptable?

How can any young woman, of any race, feel good about herself when some of the most popular and accepted entertainment is telling her the only worth she has is on her knees or back? This is not just music, but also movies and television.

And I can picture that young black girl and it breaks my heart, because I've seen it happen. It happened to a dear friend of mine when we were in jr high. They didn't have the "ho" word yet, but the spirit was the same.

Yet it also happens to girls of every race - my daughter is half Mexican and she's been called a "wetback" as well as a "white trash" "ho." Depends on the race of who's doing the calling.

As for the apologies, I'm with you. They don't mean jack sh*t and make me sick.

Though this is a different case, I'm waiting for the New Jersey govenor to get out of the hospital and apologize for not wearing a seat belt and driving almost 30 mph over the speed limit. I truly hope he recovers, but some people always believe the rules don't apply to them.

The arrogance, and attitude of entitlement of some people never ceases to amaze and sicken me - whether it's a politician, a celebrity or even person living down the block.

Ok, stepping down and backing away from the soapbox.

Clifford said...

Stewart,

Don't struggle. Freedom of speech is a concept and not a reality. Things that are potentially harmful are censored. Racisct remarks ARE harmful. Protect the children, if no one else.

As for the political posturing of hate, well, I feel there's definitely a sense of pent-up hate and racism finally getting voice, often in the guise of neo conservatism. The racists are here and they have spoken. Gays and Middle Easteners are open season...the rest of us you have to be more careful with, hence the Imus cleansing.

Kate,

I hear you loud and clear. I consider myself a feminist, among other things, and I've shaken my head in confusion as I've watched the gains of the women's movement get chipped away little by litte. My favorite quote on feminism is from Ani DiFranco in her song/poem "Grand Canyon" -- "Coolest F-word ever deserves a fuckin' shout!" Here here!

Get your daughter some Ani DiFranco CDs, it'll turn her around (:

I remember, years ago, watching Threes Company, enjoying it, but wondering how the "dumb blond" sterotype managed to resurface without anyone batting an eye -- and making Suzanne Summers into a sex symbol to boot. And she wasn't all that hot either -- just had the dumb blond thing going!

My take is that back in the 80s, men began to become objectified in the media the way women had, as the antidote. It was like women threw up their hands and said, "if you can't beat em, join em!" And I think, in some ways, it created an uncomfortable balance.

Oh man, this is a BIG topic, and you've got my head spinning...I aposlogize for being all over the map here. I guess, in the end, I think we're letting our animal tendencies get the better of us. We are animals, we can't forget that, but the ability to communicate at such a high level gives us the ability to say "I don't like when you do that to me" and respond to it appropriately. Every time I watch an animal program where they follow an animal community and describe their behaiviors, I say to myself: That's us...that is us.

Kate S said...

Oh, my gosh - yes! I recently watched a program on apes, and one of the younger apes was angry because he couldn't get a female. The older, more powerful male was the only one allowed to mate. One of the females apparently felt sorry for the younger (or just liked him better) and went to have sex with him. Another young male saw, "told" the older male, and the older male beat up the interloper. The beaten male then went and found the oldest and weakest female of the group and began to beat on her.

I couldn't help but think how "human" they were.

I also agree about what happened in the 80's - we suddenly saw men (and it's still happening) in sitcoms reduced to bumbling buffoons, and parents became idiots in the face of their wiser children. Seems we lack balance everywhere.

Ok, I'm rambling today too. :)

Josh Einstein said...

I dunno, I don't watch Imus or anything and all I knew about him previously was from some old feud with Howard Stern who I think is great... But still, the guy said something that black people say ALL the time. And I'm getting a little sick of the double standard. If he were black, they'd all be laughing it up.

Hell, even Eminem can get away with it. But because Imus wears a cowboy hat, he's made into a scapegoat.

Clifford said...

Josh,

How wrong can one man be (: First, for the record, I've NEVER called a black woman nappy-headed or a ho. And I've never laughed at similar comments, because, frankly, they're not funny.

That being said, members of a group sometimes use stereotypes playfully, in order to defuse the pain. It's a failing, in my opinion, but a human failing. Those outside the community or group can use them too, IF THEY KNOW HOW -- meaning the intent behind the words is clear.

In the end, calling women "bitches and hos" in music and entertainment, while disgusting, is very differnt than calling AN INDIVIDUAL a bitch or a ho.

As a society, we have so, so much to learn!

Clifford said...

P.S. Not sure about the "cowboy hat" thing, but if you feel they're a persecuted group I won't refute it. Although, wouldn't it be nice if all persecuted groups could look out for each other?

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This is me and one of my two cats. His name is Cougar, and he’s an F1 Chausie. A chausie is a new breed of cat under development. Chausies are the result of a cross between a domestic cat (in Cougar’s case, a Bengal) and a jungle cat (Felis Chaus). Cougar’s mom is 8 pounds and his father is a 30-pound jungle cat. He’s about 16 pounds, super intelligent, spirited, and toilet trained. A writer without a cat (or two) is not to be trusted.