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The Imus Firing

Don Imus has now been fired by NBC and CBS and his show taken off the air because of some viciously racist statements he made last week.  In an earlier post, I wondered whether the FCC would levy fines as they did in the "wardrobe malfunction" incident on TV.  I still believe they should do that, in order to show that they are not hypocritical.  However, I certainly do not believe Imus should have been fired.

Imus What Imus and his sidekicks said was disgusting, racist and sexist.  But I doubt they would have said any of those things if we had not developed a culture where black rappers make millions of dollars peddling "tunes" that viciously and brutally condemn women to a second class status.  For a rapper, calling a woman a "ho" is far from the worst thing.  Much worse violence, physical and mental, is praised in too many rappers' songs.  How is it that it is OK in one case, but not for Don Imus?

Let me reiterate that the things Imus and his crew said were disgusting, racist and sexist.  That is not in dispute.  However, in a country where the right of free speech and the powers of market capitalism are so highly touted, the firing shows a lack of trust in both ideas.

As many many posts can attest, I hate censorship more than most things.  There can NEVER be a reasonable determination of "good" versus "bad" in speech that is not coloured by one's own beliefs.  Americans claim to support that idea of free speech -- and loudly proclaim their First Amendment --, but the millions of dollars of fines by the FCC for so-called "transgressions" of "standards" prove that that is in fact not so.  Free speech is only "free" so long as the authorities say it is OK.

Most Americans also proclaim the virtues of the market capitalist system.  If they truly DID believe this, then they would accept that the answer to the Imus's of the world would be simple -- switch off!  However, the people making these censorship judgements refuse to accept that the millions of people who listen to these jerks every day have the right to listen.  The people must be forced to abide by the censors' views regardless of what the market wants.

This whole affair is a sad business from beginning to end.

April 12, 2007 in Media | Permalink

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