Last laugh not worth the price

“Imus Morning “ will be in mourning for two weeks as the show’s host serves his suspension for calling the African American players on Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos� and “jigaboos.�

When asked by the Rev. Al Sharpton on his radio show “Keeping it Real� what possessed
Don Imusto utter such vile remarks to a group of hardworking athletes and stellar students, Imus said, “I didn’t think it was a racial insult. I thought it was in the process of us rapping and trying to be funny.”

But “funny� for this shock jock has consistently crossed the lines of civility and acceptable on-the-air commentary.

Imus’ retort about the Rutgers athletes was inexcusable. Why? Because jokes framed around distorted concepts of race and gender invalidate the behavior, culture and accomplishments of the group .

And the ridiculing of the women’s physical features suggest a norm of beauty, femininity and class, in both Imus’ and the show producer Bernard McGuirk’s minds, these women do not possess.

“That’s some rough girls from Rutgers, Imus said. “Man, they got tattoos.”
“Some hardcore hos,” McGuirk replied.
“That’s some nappy headed hoes there,â€? Imus said. I’m going to tell you that.”

The strength of these women shouldi be lauded.

However, African American women beat the odds, they are either demonized as being emasculating of black men or seem impervious to stereotypes that obfuscate our real countenances.

And when a disparaging comment such as Imus’ is accepted as a joke or brushed aside as distasteful humor and not acknowledged for what it is- hate speech- it closes the window of opportunity to educate.

But in the competitive world of the broadcast industry, where ratings add up to corporate sponsorships this shock jock, whose off-colored remarks and politically incorrect acid-tongue are his signature, has one of the top shows in the business.

And while no one wants to be butt of Imus’ acerbic jokes, his no-holds-barred humor has, peculiarly enough, both entertained and offended millions, broadcasting on more than 70 stations across the country and simulcast on the cable station MSNBC. Imus’ offensive behavior has increased his viewership by 40 percent since last year. And this recent incident will raise it even more.

What wrong with this picture?

We have become a culture more concerned about being entertained than caring about the souls we hurt for a laugh.

Published April 11, 2007 in Metro News.

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