In my opinion, he deserved to be fired for this unbelievable stupidity, if nothing else. But I soon began thinking about how ironic it is that Imus gets canned for such language while at the same time, rappers who use such epithets, and much worse, win Grammy awards.
This article is excellent, I think, in how it discusses this issue. I am glad that Mr. and Mrs. Imus went to talk with the team, that the coach's pastor was involved, that the coach and the girls are working through this with truely admirable graciousness and "class."
A couple of snippets from the article follow.
“We all know where the real battleground is,” wrote Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock. “We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show.”
We have to begin working on a response to the larger problem,” said the Rev. DeForest Soaries Jr., who as pastor of the Rutgers coach helped mediate the Imus imbroglio...the culture that “has produced language that has denigrated women.”
The larger issue was alluded to by CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves when he announced Imus’ firing: “The effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society ... has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.”
Some defenders of rap music and hip-hop culture, such as the pioneering mogul Russell Simmons, deny any connection between Imus and hip-hop. They describe rap lyrics as reflections of the violent, drug-plagued, hopeless environments that many rappers come from. Instead of criticizing rappers, defenders say, critics should improve their reality. “Comparing Don Imus’ language with hip-hop artists’ poetic expression is misguided and inaccurate and feeds into a mind-set that can be a catalyst for unwarranted, rampant censorship,” Simmons said in a statement Friday... The superstar rapper Snoop Dogg [said] “(Rappers) are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports,” he told MTV.com. “We’re talking about hos that’s in the ’hood that ain’t doing ---- that’s trying to get a n---- for his money.” [Speaking of offensive words being offensive no matter whose mouth they are in...but that's another post.]
The Rev. Al Sharpton, among the loudest critics calling for Imus’ termination, indicated that entertainment is the next battleground. “We will not stop until we make it clear that no one should denigrate women,” he said after Imus’ firing. “We must deal with the fact that ho and the b-word are words that are wrong from anybody’s lips. It would be wrong if we stopped here and acted like Imus was the only problem. There are others that need to get this same message.”
I find myself agreeing with Al Sharpton. (Will wonders never cease?) I might have been slightly tempted to think that we really don't need to worry much about this and that Imus' comments were just weird, however I was astounded to learn that (as of this moment) about 67% the respondents to a CBS survey (at the article) believe that he should not have been fired, or that it was "not that big a deal." Excuse me. It IS a big deal to call college women whores.
I read this, elsewhere, "He's a shock jock. He was doing exactly what he gets paid for, so why should he be fired?" Interesting point. Why are "shock jocks" like Imus, and much worse, heard in the first place? What does that say about our culture? But does Snoop Dogg have a point? Does art imitate culture or does culture imitate art, or both? What role does the church play?
The issue neither began, nor should end, with the firing of Don Imus.