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(Un)Intellectual (Dis)Honesty and Just(ifiable) Desserts

Anyway you want to discuss the Don Imus incident, it was just wrong. Joe Conason @ Salon.com as usual succinctly states the argument and regardless of the motivation, MSNBC and CBS did the right thing by firing the ignorant ass.

The argument I have heard from friends and cohorts most often is twofold and incorrect:

1. Black people use these terms all the time (they don’t)
2. Firing Imus over his comments is a slap to free speech and the first amendment (it isn’t)

On point One, Imus claiming he’s heard these words in rap songs and didn’t really think they’d be all that offensive is just an outright lie. He may be a schmuck, but he’s not a complete idiot. Imus has a long history of racial slurs and had admitted as much (hiring Bernard McGuirk to do the “nigger jokes”). using the “I saw them do it” defense for a person like Imus is the worst in unintellectual dishonesty.
First of all, anyone that is not black that knows people that are, knows that even inner city kids aren’t constantly always using slurs on each other. While you might hear it more in the street because “cred” is important, you rarely hear it in individual conversations or small groups. Maybe it’s because I’m pasty that this is my experience, but regardless the idea that African Americans across the country are always using racial slurs to refer to each other and it’s all okay is ridiculous regardless of what the stereotypes promoted through gansta hop and television promote.
I’ve hated Imus since I first heard him on radio in NY around 1974 (I was 9); but any possible shred of respect (little-to-no chance) I might have for him is lost in that he can’t even take responsibility for his own words and opinions. A great line in the last episode of season 3 of “The Wire” discussed a vile racist man that had owned a mortuary in West Baltimore who claimed the only way he’d take on black people and bury them through his business is if he could “take them all at once.” Councilman Carcetti responded that the comment was reprehensible and Colvin, a black man, responded “yeah- but at least you knew where the man stood.”

We know where Imus stands- behind whatever he can until he’s forced to accept otherwise.

On point Two- This is much more simple- no first amendment rights were abridged or denied and free speech is alive and well. The decision to withdraw advertising or fire Imus outright is not impinging on anyone’s right to call people “nappy headed ho’s” or any other despicable word- Imus is still free to say whatever stupid ignorant thing he wants.

He just won’t be getting paid millions to do so. And this proves that free speech is alive and well.

Millions have spoken out loud “We don’t want to hear your shit Imus- go away.”

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