Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm getting tired of waiting...

Well, maybe there's not much point in rehashing this....but I just have to share that I am glad Don Imus has been fired by CBS.

It seems like the most common defenses of his actions that I've seen have been "He's been doing this [i.e., making racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. comments] for years. Why have the rules been changed on him all of a sudden?" and "You hear far worse in rap lyrics. Where's the outrage over that?"

I don't care what he "always" does or what has been the status quo for 30 years. All sort of things had been the status quo until people decided they were no longer acceptable. It's called progress. It sounds to me like either he's a racist, sexist, homophobic guy, or he plays one on the radio. Either way, that kind of stuff isn't helping anyone and is certainly damaging to a whole lot of people. Times change, acceptable behavior changes, and this is at least one example in a sea of examples of racism and misogyny when someone (CBS, under pressure) is making a public statement that that stuff isn't ok.

As for the rap argument, since when is "Well, he did it too!" an acceptable defense past the age of five? Are we not allowed to call for censure of one wrong doer unless we censure all wrong doers simultaneously? Let's start here, and let's keep going. Let's make it so that everyone finally gets that racism is ugly and hurtful and doesn't even make rational sense and won't be tolerated in the public sphere. The same goes for the sexist aspect of Imus' comments. Something that has disturbed me about this whole episode is that few seem to really care that he called these young women whores because....why? Because they're basketball players? Because they're athletes who are tough instead of sweet? Because some of them are black? Because some of them have tattoos? I have NO IDEA.

I think that racism is a more divisive problem than sexism, and the worst of the negative effects of racism are, in general, more damaging than the worst of the negative effects of sexism (in the U.S. at this point in time). I do not want to appear unaware of or unsympathetic to the huge damage done by racism in this country. That said, it seems like sexism is implicitly tolerated at all levels of society more than racism is. I'm not begrudging the strides that have been made in rendering racism unacceptable (and obviously we're not all the way there yet). I believe that these victories aren't just victories for members of discriminated-against racial or ethnic groups, but for all of the disenfranchised. But at some point we're going to have to be able to get the Imus's of the world fired just for calling innocent women whores, and we're not at that point yet. And I'm getting a little tired of waiting.
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