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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Don Imus

In a civilized society, there is an ever-changing social compact regarding words or points of view which, for the lack of a better term, are socially incorrect.

I have great problems with our government trying to legislate which words or points of view are socially incorrect. Thank goodness for our First Amendment.

But, I have little problem with others calling someone on the carpet for the expression of words or points of view which are so hurtful, insensitive or offensive that they simply have no place being publicly stated.

Don Imus must have missed the last few decades of life in America. Today, it is absolutely unacceptable to joke or make derogatory comments about a person's racial characteristics, particularly when doing it in a way that casts aspersions upon them. What Don Imus essentially said, if I understand his vernacular, was to call the women athletes "black whores".

Our radio industry should take the lead and serve as an example to our communities in commentary, entertainment, and music. We should never accept programming that breaks the social compact on those few words or points of view that are verboten (there are not many such words in today's world -- just look at how pervasive the use of the F-word has become), unless it is because we believe that society is wrong to regard the words or point of view as socially incorrect.

I wish I could think of another term rather than "socially incorrect" to describe Don Imus' comment as that term might have left-wing or liberal implications. Socially incorrect, in the sense in which I am using it, identifies those few words and points of view which our collective society in general have agreed have no place in civilized conversation. "Socially incorrect" today includes derogatory comments about any established religion or nationality. Think of the firestorm that would erupt if a derogatory comment was broadcast about Catholic or Jewish persons or their religious practices, or attributing German WWII atrocities to Americans of German heritage. Derogatory comments about sexual persuasion have also made it into the "socially incorrect" category. Isn't it interesting, however, that, for a time not too many years ago, jokes about people of a Polish heritage were acceptable.

Don Imus apparently recognized his error immediately as he is profusely apologizing (or, more likely, someone on his station's staff called him up and asked him how he could have said what he said). Unfortunately, as many of us have learned the hard way, apologies do not always work when some things are said.

The reason that apologies will not suffice for Don Imus is because of what I observe above -- it appears that he must have missed the last few decades in America as he still thinks it is sport and funny to deride people of color. As one broadcaster I know notes, Don Imus' comment was simply racist, which is wholly unacceptable in today's world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are ministers? Purrlease!! Are they going to apologize to the Duke boys whom they condemned? Imus made a terrible comment, of course. However, I don't think Imus should have gone on Sharpton's show at all. Sharpton ate it up!

Regarding socially correct, when Satanists burn down churches, is it considered a "hate crime"? Is it socially correct for your firm to recognize National Prayer Day - or is it MORE socially correct to recognize another day in the name of diversity instead, such as GLBT?

What exactly is "socially correct" and who benefits from it?

8:27 PM  

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