When I first heard what Imus said, I'll admit that the ol' jaw dropped an inch or two. It's not that it was surprising…I mean, c'mon, he's a white guy born in the early 1940s. I'm sure there are many more who regularly think and say a lot worse than ol' Imus. What jarred me was the conversational tone of the discussion, if that makes any sense. Imus and his crew were basically having a calm talk over the air, while almost oblivious to the millions of people listening in.
I've inadvertently walked in on some of my co-workers' conversations or jokes where Blacks, Mexicans, Asians, gays, lesbians, etc. are the punch line or punching bag. Regardless of the target, one person in the group will nudge the keynote speaker and everyone will stand around in awkward silence until I get my coffee and walk back to my office, so that the societal dissertation can continue.
Unfortunately, no one nudged Imus.
So, is America overreacting? Of course…and that goes for both Imus' defenders and detractors. Here are a few reasons to explain my stance:
The Bad Man: As mentioned above, I'm willing to bet that Imus' was raised in a different racial climate than his great-grandkids. Is he racist? Who knows, but it's not like he'd be the first old white man who had no love for "the Black people". Sorry, Sharpton: no news here.
The Target(s): There are some very influential people in the sports industry who are convinced that women's basketball can be a relevant and vital sports entity. The most notable cheerleaders are probably everyone at ESPN, who have a financial interest in both the WNBA and women's college basketball. Consequently, this story's shelf life is already twice as long as it should've been, simply because The Worldwide Leader can hitch their self-serving promotional wagon to all parties involved.
The Climate: Normally, I run from anyone's discussion of politics, gender equity and other polarizing claptrap. But, we live in a country that's about to shove a female presidential candidate down our collective throats. We're a long way from the days of the E.R.A., but the empowerment of women, politically and professionally, isn't imaginary anymore. Or, in clearer terms: you can't be pissin' the bitches off.
The Apology: Imus has apologized. He's been suspended for two weeks and, more damning, he'll be stigmatized for the rest of his short, tonsorial-challenged life. Let the man walk the earth with the scarlet "R" on his chest for all I care, but he shouldn't be fired. Move along, thought police, move along.
The Soundbite: If Imus hadn't said those three little words, this story would've died on the vine. Don't believe me? ESPN's Bill Simmons wrote the following about the WNBA almost two years ago:
Well, the vast majority of WNBA players lack crossover sex appeal. That's just the way it is. Some are uncomfortably tall and gawky, while others lack the requisite, um, softer qualities to captivate males between 18 and 35. The baggy uniforms don't help. Neither does the fact that it's tough for anyone to look attractive at the end of a two-hour basketball game.While not defending Imus' choice of words, can't it be reasonably argued that this was his point? And, is there anyone who'd dispute this argument?
I'll leave you with words from That Nick'a Guy:
If something offensive is said on AM radio...does anyone hear it?
Who still listens to Imus or AM radio?