Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus and Us

"Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal." Martin Luther King, Jr

Where does freedom of expression, a free media and freely expressed creative license end -- and intolerance, bigotry and racism begin?

Why is it Comedy and Satire when Spike Lee uses words like "Jigaboos" in a movie? Or when Lee, Chris Rock and countless other African American artists use the N word in books, movies, songs and live entertainment?

Yet it's Ugly, Racist and Wrong for an aging white man like Don Imus, the original "shock jock" still striving for over-the-top hipness, to refer to "Jigaboos" from Lee's movie "School Daze" and call the Rutgers women's basketball teams "nappy-headed hos"?

Don't miss the point here. Of course Imus's words were repugnant. And his excuse for using those words--shifting blame to the black community--is outrageous and ignorant.

Or is it?

Imus's rationale is that the word 'ho' "originated in the black community. ... I may be a white man, but I know that these young women and young black women all through that society are demeaned and degraded by their own black men and that they are called that name.”

He claimed, "I am not a racist. What I did was make a stupid, idiotic mistake in a comedy context."

A mistake? Yes. Comedy? In the mind of the listener.

To my mind, all racist, sexist, anti-social derogatory remarks are deplorable in any context. And when couched as 'In Jokes' among a specific race, religion, gender or culture, they show a disturbing lack of self-respect and appreciation of ones own heritage.

Certainly they encourage others to join the fun, no harm no foul.

To me, it's all foul.

Hatred used for comic effect is just not funny. Imus found that out the hard way. And, I believe, the wrong way.

Imus strikes me as a passive racist. The most dangerous kind. Nothing overt, just an inner sense of "us" and "them" ... with "them" just a little less equal than "us." And hey, if "they" make up derogatory words about themselves, why shouldn't "we" use them too?

All the outcry from leaders of the Black community is hypocrisy turned into special interest spin. They need to turn their outrage inward, on those who publicly denigrate their own people, their own women, their own race.

Unless that's just free speech too. Somehow I don't think so. And it's definitely not funny.

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