It really doesn’t matter whether you find radio shock jock Don Imus’s description of the women on Rutgers’ basketball team offensive or not. In an age when you can turn on any popular urban radio station and hear most of the words used in George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” comedy routine the term, “nappy-headed hos” can hardly be deemed offensive, especially coming from a shock jock.
What is at issue is whether or not the politically correct have used bullying tactics to infringed upon the guaranteed right of free speech under the First Amendment.
I can’t say that I am a fan of Don Imus but then I can’t say I dislike him either. I have never taken the time to listen to his radio show nor have I viewed his broadcast on MSNBC. Being from Chicago, I grew up listening to Larry Lujack, Dan Walker – the governor of Rock ‘n Roll – and later on Jonathon Brandmeir and Steve Dahl. Imus wasn’t a Chicago staple.
Of course, Chicago had its fair share of FCC imposed and special interest group inflicted radio personality suspensions but those seemed to work more in the favor of the radio show being yanked from the air than for the government or advocacy group. I predict that Imus’s suspension will work to his advantage in the long run as well. Such is the animal of America’s “car accident” curiosity and sitcom attention span.
As I see it, the larger issues surrounding the Imus matter are: whether his First Amendment right to free speech has been usurped and whether racial activism – or any activism for that matter – coupled with political correctness have grown so out of control that they contravene the sanctity of our constitutional rights.
Where contact with the public is concerned private corporations have scored great successes and made public relations blunders. Most of the time these successes and blunders have to do with their sponsorship of a television or radio broadcast, although “New Coke” stands in a class by itself. In each instance of success or failure, the free market has either heaped its approval through increased revenue generation or demonstrated its dismay with decreased sales. Either way, the free market has always – and will always – be the best way to either reward or penalize private corporations for their good deeds or bad behavior.
CBS and MSNBC, the corporations that sponsor Dom Imus’s show, and in the end Don Imus himself, will ultimately feel the effects of Mr. Imus’s on-air conduct in their wallets. When dealing with millionaires and multi-billion dollar corporations penalizing them at the cash register is always the most effective way to get their attention.
But we head down an extremely dangerous path when we start demanding that someone’s speech be censored simply because someone or some group found something they said offensive.
Just like the term “separation of church and state,” the notion that somehow there is a constitutional right “not to be offended” exists nowhere in our Founding Documents: the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But just like the afore mentioned “separation,” special interest groups and secular leftists are making in-roads through the legislative and judicial branches of government to establish additional limitations to guaranteed rights actually found in the Founding Documents.
Secular and anti-religion zealots are doing everything including applying special interest pressure on elected officials and filing a never-ending litany of lawsuits to prohibit the free exercise of religion. Gun law advocates are making advances against the Second Amendment right to bear arms city by city. The Progressive-Left and the one-world Socialists among us are incrementally chipping away at the right to freedom of speech by lobbying for hate speech legislation and, in the case of Dom Imus’s statement, encouraging race-baiting special interest charlatans to advocate for the destruction of a 40-year career.
In each instance these visionless elements seek to hijack our society despite the fact that they are challenging rights that are guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. In all cases, these anti-constitutionalists are attempting to establish a shadow rule of law based on the Marxist-Leninist Communist-Socialist principles of political correctness. Should they succeed, true liberty, true freedom will simply be something that is read about – albeit in a politically correct context – in revisionist US and world history books.
The genius of the Framers work is in its ability to promote and secure the liberties of true freedom in the face of the ignorance of the mob mentality even while it protects the right of the mob to exhibit said ignorance. In essence, and in reality, the Founding Documents guarantee an individual’s right to remain ignorant, although it was the Founders hope that Americans would choose to live a learned life. It never occurred to them that intellectually disingenuous opportunists would seek to install a “Nanny State” government for their own narcissistic purposes.
MSNBC and CBS have suspended Don Imus for two weeks and he is set to meet with the Rutgers players – the newly canonized “victims” of his offensive behavior – to issue his apology. Meanwhile a completely unimportant statement made by a shock jock that could have been rectified with the turn of a radio dial has turned into another victory for the enemy at the gates.
If I could divine one truth from this “scandal” it would be to find out what CDs are in the personal music collections of each of the members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Something tells me that in each, there are CDs from rap music artists that offer words and sentiments that eclipse the so-called offensive words of Don Imus. In the existence of these CDs within their collections lays the ultimate hypocrisy of political correctness.
But, as Evelyn Beatrice Hall penned under the pseudonym Stephen G. Tallentyre in paraphrasing Voltaire, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
George Carlins “Seven Dirty Words” Comedy Routine (Caution: Adult Language)
Despite Apology, Critics Want Imus Out
Declaration of Independence
Bill of Rights
Current Communist Goals: Congressional Record Appendix, pp. A34-A35
Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally.