Several matters* * * Okay, I've been trying to keep my mouth shut on the whole Imus "nappy headed hoes" thing. I'm conflicted on it; while I'm a fervent believer in absolute freedom of expression unless said expression demonstrates a clear danger to some bystander's health and/or safety, still, Imus is a jackass, and when you're a jackass on TV and in the media, people are going to respond, which they have a right to do. So I've tried to see it as a wash, and avoid saying anything, because on principle, anything I say is going to sound like I'm defending Imus, and, well, Imus is a blowhole and I don't want to defend him.
And this should probably be over on the poli-blog, anyway, and maybe I'll excerpt it for that when I'm done here.
Anyway, I tried to stay out of it. But then I go over here, and I'm reading about the Reverend Al Sharpton, who is a galaxy class asshole, leading the protests against Imus and his idiotic behavior, and, well... it's hard to stay out. But I was doing it. I was doing it.
And then I read this --
"He's crossed the line, he's violated our community," Gordon said in a telephone interview. "He needs to face the consequence of that violation."
For us old timey superhero comics geeks, there's a little guffaw in there, as 'Bruce Gordon' is the name of the beleaguered scientist who occasionally freaks out and turns into Eclipso, a crazy ass megalomaniac with superpowers who keeps trying to plunge the entire Earth into darkness, or some shit. But that's very much by the by. I have no idea (beyond what the article tells me) who the real Bruce Gordon is, but I will say this -- he's not a part of the solution. He's a part of the problem.
I have said this before, and I will doubtless say it again and again and again as these things keep coming up -- being offended is not the same thing as being hurt, or, in this case, as Mr. Gordon, former head of the NAACP and a director of CBS Corp., put it to the Associated Press, being violated.
We make this mistake constantly in our culture. We believe that if someone does something that offends us, they have deliberately assaulted us, they have harmed us, they have done us an injury from which we, in legal parlance, 'need to be made whole'. This is egregious horseshit. Speech is not a punch in the mouth, no matter how deeply you may be offended by something someone else said. As an adult, if you are offended by something, you have a simple, sovereign remedy -- stop paying attention to it.
Imus is a fucking asshat, and there's no getting around that. But he does not have the power to control what station you set your radio or your television to. If you don't like his particular brand of dipshittiness, then you have many, many other broadcasts you can audit in his stead... or, you know, you could turn the fucking boxes all off and go talk to your kids, or something.
Havign said that, for something like the millionth time, let me add this -- stuff like this is not cut and dried. Imus has a right to freedom of speech, as do the people who are offended by how he exercises it. However, what it seems to me that people are offended most by with someone like Imus is not that he's a jackass, but that he's a jackass who speaks to a large and very receptive, very enthusiastic audience who loves his shit and who support him with their wallets, or at least, by lending him their brains for a few hours every day so advertisers will continue to support him with said wallets.
Now, Imus does not have a right to the job he currently holds. He has that job because he makes money for his employer; if he stops making money for his employer, his employer has a right to fire him. And the people whom Imus has offended have a right to speak out and to organize in protest against Imus in this regard; they have a right to bring whatever pressure it is they may be able to on Imus' employer through threatened boycotts of advertisers, etc. As it turns out, this same article I referred to above also makes the following clear:
About 30 angry NBC News employees, many of them black, met with news division president Steve Capus less than 24 hours before Capus decided that a two-week suspension of Imus' morning telecast wasn't enough.
They said they'd had it with Imus' brand of coarse ethnic humor, capped with last week's reference to the Rutgers female basketball players as "nappy-headed hos."
"Within this organization, this had touched a nerve," Capus said Wednesday. "The comment that came through to us, time and time again, was `when is enough going to be enough?' This was the only action we could take."
And even Presidential candidates had to pile on:
Now, I have to tell you, I'd have a great deal more respect for Obama if he'd come out and said something truly controversial regarding every American's right to freedom of speech, even when said speech is truly, mortifyingly offensive and goddam fucking stupid, to boot. As Ted Rall and many others (including me) have noted in the past, it's easy to support other people's freedom to say things we approve of. Nonetheless, it must be noted -- Imus isn't facing arrest, nor has the Federal government threatened to suspend his employers' broadcast license over this, nor has anyone been violent towards him over it (although I don't doubt he's gotten some threats in that vein). What Imus is facing is intense, widespread social opprobrium over some truly, virulently hateful remarks he made. Does he have a right to make those remarks? Sure. But actions have consequences, and he does not have a right to a job as a popular shock jock.
So, as I say -- it's complicated and I'm conflicted. I'm not defending Imus; he's generally a dickhead and what he said in this case was truly, monumentally dickheaded. But however offense his words were, they do not rise to the level of a 'violation' of anyone. And I believe our culture and our civilization would be much further forward if every putative adult simply ignored contemptible, weak-minded shit like this. In fact, if every putative adult did ignore this kind of nonsense, then there wouldn't be a problem at all -- because dimbulbs like Don Imus wouldn't have an audience to begin with.
* * * Moving on from this to more personal stuff, I've changed jobs. I'm four days in to my new employment and so far it's a gas. Great people to work with, slightly more money than my last job, and, well, I'm not working at a call center any more. I'm downtown and can ride to and from work with SuperFiancee, which is lovely, and while my job is customer service, I'm providing clerical support to a large corporation, and my interactions with 'customers' are much more one on one. My 'customers' are all professionals, too, not walk ins from the street, so while the job is demanding, and I have a great deal yet to learn, it's still orders of magnitude more pleasant than my previous post.
If I seem to be being somewhat vague, well, reality is haunted by malevolent dumbasses, and some of them yearn to see me unemployed. So if you want the lowdown, shoot me an email.
And past all this, SuperFiancee has been down for the last two days with some killer stomach bug, and all good thoughts and energy you can spare I'd like you to direct her way. I worry about her.
We're also worried about weather for the wedding, on the 21st. Try to hold a good thought in your head for that, as well.
Okay, I'd best be about my business. Good Thursday to everybody.