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Web Letter

I'm really surprised, to be honest, that there's been so much backlash against the Imus comments. Not that I think they were okay, but really, they were par for the course in his work: he makes horrible comments about everybody, Hillary Clinton in particular, which personally offend me . . . as a human being.

However, why is it that when he says something about African Americans, suddenly, the gloves are off and he needs to resign? Moreover, why are people not calling for the resignation of the CEOs of record companies who produce the most atrocious and vile descriptions of black women and others?

Witness the following outrageous comment by the guy with the ridiculous name: "Snoop Dog" or whatever on earth it is. Apparently Mr. Dog was asked about the comparison between his own voluminous toxic vitriol and the cranky comments made by Imus. MTV then transmitted his response:

"It's a completely different scenario . . . [Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We're talking about ho's that's in the 'hood that ain't doing shit, that's trying to get a nigga for his money. These are two separate things. First of all, we ain't no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them mutha-----as say we in the same league as him."

From my perspective, people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton legitimate this kind of cancerous attitude by ignoring it on the one hand and on the other hand by going after every (specifically) white person who steps across the perceived line. I simply don’t buy as a socially acceptable reality that it’s okay for Mr. Dog to abuse women because he’s a black man. The irony is, Mr. Dog is a hero to many (obviously unfortunate) young people and his lack of apology for being so misogynistic actually validates his perspective among his followers and fans, whereas at least Imus has publicly apologized.

It doesn’t matter whether we “think” Imus means it or not, it’s a social gesture to apologize publicly and it reinforces, publicly (!), that we as a society do not approve of such behavior. Yet by contrast we publicly accept Mr. Dog’s anti-social behavior. I think the bigger part of the guilt here should be laid at the feet of the self-appointed media-hungry leaders of the African Americans, people like Jesse Jackson. The reason: because they’re in the best position to do something about it, but they don’t. In fact, when a real Black leader, Bill Cosby, attempted to address this very problem, he was criticized as some kind of Uncle Tom by Jesse Jackson, et al.

So what is Imus really guilty of? He’s guilty of saying a lot of bad things about a lot of people. But up until now, no one really cared what he said or about whom. So why now? Because he said it about some black women. But then so does Mr. Dog. So what’s the difference? Imus is white.

Sounds like a real red-neck cliché, “guilty for being white,” I know. But tell me, if a black man can make a filthy rich living by uttering the most profane things about black women and not be censured, and a white man calls some black women “nappy headed ’ho’s” and is publicly humiliated and protested against, I have to assume it’s because he is white. And tell me, when the Black man’s rationale is “well, the women I call ‘hos’ are ‘hos’” clearly we are a LONG way from anything approaching a reasonable treatment of Imus.

If Jackson weren’t so racist himself (that’s what it’s called when you attack another person because of his race in an attempt to gain power over that person), and protested against ALL such unjust and anti-social behavior (specifically including that committed by such intensely ego-centric black heroes as Mr. Dog, and P something and Phat someone, et al.), then I’d be right behind him, supporting him all the way.

For now, though, it seems to me that this is a situation in which a few people who smelled weakness and saw a chance to promote themselves went after it with all the ferocity they could mount in order to prop themselves up in the estimation of those whose adulation they crave. This in itself is anti-social behavior (just ask Hitler how it worked for him).

Jas Smith

Cincinnati, Ohio

Apr 16 2007 - 6:59am

Web Letter

Barbara Ehrenreich asks how a man with "a full-frontal comb-over" can feel justified passing judgment on others' appearance. I despise Don Imus as much as the next person, but let me tell you, that is no comb-over: he has a mop of hair of which any man half his age would be envious.

I noticed a few sneers, too (e.g., "Dream on, dirty old man, but there's no amount of money that would win you the favors of these strong, smart, athletic young women"; "...I see why he's been confined to radio all these years"), and the usual folderol about "strong, determined, aggressive women" arousing a man's antagonism.

What is it about certain feminists that they can't express a thought on such a topic without uttering misandrist digs? Or are all white men wealthy, unfeeling, sexist bastards?

Let me suggest an assignment for Ms. Ehrenreich (and Sister Katha, for that matter). Why don't they visit Duke University and ask the three (white male) lacrosse players what it feels like to be falsely accused of rape and have their reputation destroyed forever? Or isn't their pain as "sexy" and relevant as that experienced by the Rutgers basketball players?

Jay Preston

Los Angeles, CA/United States

Apr 13 2007 - 7:45pm

Web Letter

Today's NY Daily News editorial on the firing of Don Imus and the power of Al Sharpton to get the entertainment industry to draw the line on outrageous commentary on the free airwaves dares to dream that we, as a society, may have finally hit bottom with respect to debasing one another.

As for Imus, of whom I was never a fan, he finally lashed out at the wrong target - hardworking black teenage female amateur athletes, who most would agree are not public figures, and who by any rational thinking are to be unconditionally commended for their accomplishments, athletic or otherwise.

As for Sharpton, who, whatever your opinion of him, has grown greatly in political stature over the past several years, he seems to be taking the necessary baby steps towards helping to convince artists, entertainment companies and Black Americans in general, that we have to begin to put an end to the madness of the moral self-destruction of entire generations of youth.

Fixing the coarseness of our cultural and political discourse cannot be legislated and rightly so. "Congress shall make no law abridging ... the freedom of speech, or of the press...". Nor should we want or expect the FCC to make an end run around Constitution by excessively regulating the speech over which Congress gives it jurisdiction. And we certainly don't want our educational institutions to cut off civilized debate in any way. Ultimately, like the termination of Imus's employment, cultural and political discourse will be decided by the marketplace. If we use the power at our hands to not reward those who make this country a worse place to live, then perhaps all is not lost.

Sean Richardson

Brooklyn, NY

Apr 13 2007 - 12:58pm

Web Letter

The work to stop racist and sexist remarks is only the begining with uniting all of the N.H.H.'s. (I wont type it out) The thing that is getting Imus a 2 week paid vacation and kicked off of MSNBC is that pressure is being put on his shows sponsors to no longer support the comments Imus continually makes.

Unfortunately there is no movement to promote a sense of decency for the broadcast industry and if economic pressure is not put on the hate mongers, sexists and racists, there will be more incidents like this one.

I fully support free speech and I dont support laws restricting or censoring speech but just because we can say something insensitive doesn't mean we should. It also doesn't mean that we have to just turn the channel and deal with it. If you feel the need to broadcast that kind of speech you should expect the full wrath of the United N.H.H.s to inform your sponsors that your actions are not appropriate, that your products will not be purchased as long as you sponsor this type of programming and it will reflect badly on the sponsor who does. Hear that Rush!

We need to move the dialogue on this issue forward and thinking before speaking is a good start.

Tom Pisano

Shirley, New York

Apr 12 2007 - 2:54pm