Thursday, April 12, 2007

Leave Imus alone

The PC vultures are circling for the bones of one J. Donald Imus, and though I agree with their central complaint, I think there's something disingenuous about the whole campaign.

Let's begin at the beginning: Imus and his pals should not insult young black women - or anyone else. Unfortunately, part of the appeal of the Imus show is that he insults people: Jews, Catholics, Hispanics, Women, and Republicans all have been on the receiving end of the show's dismissive humor.

So it's fair to ask the vultures: Where were you until now? Where were you when Jews were disparaged by Imus and his pals? Why weren't the advertising dollars pulled and the apologies demanded when Imus referred to the "Jewish" management at CBS records and called them "money grubbing bastards?" Or when he "called the book publishers Simon & Schuster “thieving Jews” (Imus in the Morning, 12/15/04), returning to the subject later in the program to offer a mock apology, saying that the phrase he used was “redundant?""

Anyone who cares to look, can find a long list of Imus "offenses", offenses that were for the most part ignored by his audience, and by the A-list guests who clawed over each other to appear on his show. I'm guilty, too. Once, I called into complain after the show's producer, Bernie McGurk, said something horrible about Rabbis and Christian children. The call screener gave me a glib excuse ("Do you hear what Bernie says about priests?") and I remained a listner. Was this because I accept casual bigotry, or because I understand that Imus's equal-opportunity racism is rooted in satire and shock-jockery rather than hate?

I honestly don't know. And though I can recognize the racism in his remark about the Rutgers team, I don't think it's a firing offense. The women weren't abused or denied an opportunity. They were simply insulted, in the way Imus has been insulting people for years. If you're tired of the shtick, vote with your feet. Listen to another morning program. Boycott his advertisers. The rest will take care of itself.

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