Imus is unplugged by MSNBC. I purposely have never listed to Imus. Or Howard Stern, for that matter. But the truth is, there is worse miscogeny out there in rap music and MTV and in any number of other venues that are based in a destructive culture.
Some bloggers are calling for “rules of conduct” for those who communicate publicy over the Internet. Since its inception, the Internet has been rife with wordy evidences of the worst of human nature. It also carries an awful lot of good stuff along its mind-boggling byways.
While it’s coincidental that these two media-shaking occurrences happened at the same time, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. There always have been those in the communications media, mainstream and otherwise, who have worked very hard to skirt both censorship and civility.
The challenge has always been to find that free speech place in the middle — to avoid the suppression that is censorship while also avoiding the repression that shadows civility.
That line, I believe, will always be a fine one.
ADDENDUM: As I post this, I begin watching Countdown, during which NBC President Steve Capus explained why they fired Imus. One point comes out that makes Imus’ “abominable” comments so bad. It’s one thing to satirize, criticize — even demonize — adults who are public and powerful figures involved in politics and other activities with which we disagree. It’s another to do those things to unknown young women struggling to get an education and win a basketball game.
I have no doubt that Imus will be hired by another network. I really think this is about more than race or gender. I think people are tired of cheap shots and bullying, meanness and spite. Public discourse is saturated with bile and I think people are finally saying, “Enough!”
That’s why there’s also commentary on Sharpton’s racism, Rush Limbaugh, degrading rap lyrics, and the like. The general sentiment is: “You think THAT’S bad? What about…”