I HATE TO BEAT a dead horse, but this Don Imus business has been on my mind for a few days.
Foremost, I think heâ€™s a dumb-dumb for saying what he did. In fact, I feel it was outright offensive, and the Rutgers womenâ€™s basketball team has every right to be angry. Not only is he speculating about their sexual proclivity, but heâ€™s also mocking their hairlines.
Mr. Imus, a word of caution: never speak poorly about a womanâ€™s hair. Youâ€™re likely to be castrated unless you pay her a compliment, no matter how hideous her hair looks.
As most of you who have been reading or watching the news know, he was fired from his position at CBS, even though the Rutgers players have accepted his apology. He offended some people, sponsors threatened to pull out of expensive advertising campaigns, and Don Imus is now out of his day job.
Harassment is bad. In any form. I think he deserves some form of punishment. But so do a lot of people, and on several occasions, even myself.
Back to the dead horse issue, Iâ€™m forced to confront Isaiah Washingtonâ€™s use of the other F-word in relation to T. R. Knightâ€™s sexuality back in October of 2006. He wasnâ€™t fired from the cast of â€œGreyâ€™s Anatomy.â€? To my knowledge, he is still employed by ABC.
I have to wonder sbout two points.
First, if Knight had used the N-word towards Washington, would he have been fired?
Second, how many work places would tolerate its employees using such language towards one another?
To answer my own rhetorical devices, I think Knight would have been out of a job months ago for use of the N-word, and I think most companies would fire anyone for talking like that in the work place. Itâ€™s crude and disrespectful. For ABC to not treat this case as one of sexual harassment is baffling.
Anne Coulter recently used the F-word when referring to John Edwards on CNN. Iâ€™m pretty certain she still has book deals in the works in spite of it. I hope you find this as unfortunate as I do.
As badly as I would love to vilify Coulter, Imus and Washington, I got to thinking about my own political incorrectness, about the mean things I coming out of my mouth â€” as well as the mouths of others â€” on a daily basis.
This culture tells obese jokes, blonde jokes, anorexic jokes, illegal immigrant jokes, Canadian jokes, Jew jokes and developmentally disabled jokes. We make jibes about abortions, poverty, the homeless, ugly people, double chins, tree-huggers, rednecks and food stamps.
I generalize by using â€˜we,â€™ but I also want to point out the ways in which few of us are ever very nice to everyone. Itâ€™s easy to forget about people not like us, and I hope what has happened to Imus can work as a reminder to keep our mouths shut at inopportune times.
I donâ€™t care if you donâ€™t like fat people, homosexuals, ethnic minorities, or the physically hideous. Mean is mean in any form, and if you are in a public space, refrain from being offensive. This includes ex-radio show hosts, authors and television actors.
Either people have to stop being offended (which will never happen), or they will have to learn to censor themselves when they feel like marginalizing someone who is somehow less desirable than his or her self.
Truthfully, think what you want, but to act on those thoughts in a way that is destructive for other people is just plain stupid.
When I was very young, my mother taught me the art of being aloof in public conversations. Judging by some of my past columns, it would seem as though Iâ€™ve forgotten it, unfortunately, as has Imus.
â€œDonâ€™t ever talk about religion, sex or politics,â€? she instructed me one day before elementary school.
Reflecting on her maternal wisdom, I reason that it is inescapable to think about the religion, sex or politics of other people. After all, sometimes it can be really funny. Whether it has a place in the public sphere is certainly another question altogether.
More often than not (as the Rutgers/Imus case proves), it can be damaging, so the lesson here is that you probably arenâ€™t as funny as you think, and that you should probably keep quiet when you feel like making a joke at someone elseâ€™s expense.
The next time you feel like calling another person a ho, consider for a second how it would feel to hear someone making fun of your sex life.
More tragic than funny now, isnâ€™t it?