Many of you may have caught the furor over Don Imus' latest nasty remarks on his morning show. I won't perpetuate the shock by repeating what he said, but suffice it to say, he made a racially and sexually derogatory set of remarks about the Rutgers' women's basketball team.
When I read the story this weekend, I thought about blogging about it, but didn't want to give the ass any further publicity than he's already received. On the other hand, to sit quietly and not say anything, also isn't appropriate. He deserves all the scolding society should muster, because what he said was beyond the pale. The women of Rutgers basketball team are hard working, talented women doing something they love and furthering themselves and their school through their athletics. These are people who deserve praise not attack. That he thought it was okay to say such nasty things about people who absolutely did not deserve it speaks to his weak moral character (it also says something about our culture, but that's for another post).
Having expressed my own disgust at his remarks, the situation raises an interesting question. Should he lose his job?
On the face of it, I'm uncertain. On the one hand, he is using a public commodity (the public airwaves) to expound his vile and filth. Is it appropriate for someone to use a scarce public resource to demean and degrade people? No. On the other hand, there's that whole First Amendment thing. He has the right to express racist and sexist views as much as I have a right to express my disgust at them.
So, should he lose his job? As I consider it, I think yes. If he expressed this on his blog or to his friends in a living room, fine. First Amendment all the way. But, there is something deeply troubling about using a scarce public resource to expound hate for profit. Our public resources can and should be used to uplift society, not drag us down.
MSNBC and CBS have both suspended their syndicated broadcasts of the show for two weeks (geez, now there's punishment . . . .). Imus reports that he believes the suspension is appropriate, and that he is sorry for his words.
It's worth noting that Imus has a long history of making racially derogatory remarks. He then apologizes profusely and says he won't do it again. Will it be any different this time?
I would like to see his many celebrity and political guests refuse to be on his show. McCain was asked if he would appear again (he's a frequent guest), and he said that he believed in redemption. But, how many times must Imus request redemption, before one starts to wonder if his heart is really in it?