If Imus, Then You Must, too

by Ehelldame on April 17, 2007

Shock jock Don Imus was a perennially leaking potty mouth just waiting to have a major accident which would end his career.  Taking his civil liberties (now there is an ironic phrase) a bit too far, Imus insulted the Rutgers University female basketball team members referring to them as “nappy haired hos”.  It wasn’t even in the context of a good old fashioned insult flinging volley where Imus had to defend his mother from being scuriously associated with Army boot fashionwear.  It was plain , old, garden variety ugly.

And rightly, Imus got canned.  The financial profit of relieving of him of airtime was finally greater than the decades long financial motivation to empower him to sell soap for his show’s advertising sponsors.  For the advertising industry and broadcast media, civility only becomes expedient when there is a financial incentive to be so.

But Don Imus is not an abberation.  Our popular culture glorifies and handsomely rewards the media boor known as a “shock jock” but there are worse societal poisons slowly but tenaciously infiltrating to the depths of our collective souls than a Don Imus.

The fact that black rappers have been denigrating black women for some time now has given license to the dominant culture to do the same, and I’ve pointed that out they aren’t off the hook. The media has simply not given the attention to those in the black community who deplore the rap misogyny. Spike Lee and Essence magazine, among others, have had annual media campaigns calling for an end to it.  Source

Why is a campaign for civility, dignity and respect of black women a “yearly” event?  No one needed a clue-by-4 to recognize that Don Imus allowed the abundance of his septic tank heart to spew out of his mouth thus making his spanking a swift and decisive decision.  Why does Spike Lee and Essence Magazine have to make yearly (and seemingly impotent) appeals to black entertainers for the dignified treatment of black women?

Perhaps the answer lies in who we, as a culture, deem to be worthy of extending dignity, civility and manners.  National Review, April 30, 2007 had this to say,

“And who will now ask a moment of silence of the rappers who call young black women lacking the shield of athletic celebrity “hos” day in, day out?”

Outrage over the Imus comments was partially fueled by a perception that the ladies of the Rutgers University basketball team were worthy of respect, honor and protection because of their recent accomplishments.  This exemplifies the fallacious concept that civility is owed based on worth in society due to the value the individuals brings to the community (i.e. money, prestige, power) and not on the fundamental principle that all people have intrinsic value as human beings that demands the most basic of respect.  No one should feel a need to jump through hoops to prove their worthiness to be given the decency of being respected as just an ordinary human being.  Don Imus insulting women who had “the shield of athletic celebrity” was newsworthy because the ladies did not deserve it. Snoop Dogg insulting the women of his ‘hood as bitches and “hos” is not newsworthy because maybe our society and culture believes they deserved to be called that.

Admittedly, Snoop and some of his peers have called women “b—-es” and “ho’s” in their lyrics, but as the Dogg put it Tuesday afternoon (April 10), there is no parallel to what Imus said.

“It’s a completely different scenario,” said Snoop, barking over the phone from a hotel room in L.A. “[Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We’re talking about ho’s that’s in the ‘hood that ain’t doing sh–, that’s trying to get a n—a for his money.  Source

Snoop’s fundamental problem is that his songs do not give the listener the caveat explanation of exactly who, or why, these women deserve to be insulted with misogynist labels.  In Imus’s world, just the Rutgers University basketball was a bunch of “nappy haired hos”.  In Snoop’s world, all women get tarred with the same broad brush of being bitches and “hos”.

I’d love to see the day when the shock jock fad finally fades away as people begin to realize that hatred, ugliness and potty mouths aren’t productive to a healthy society.  Rather than bringing rational, intelligent discourse to the public debate, shock jocks merely shock us with the produce of minds and mouths out of control.  Who is ever edified listening to this verbal garbage?

Similarly, the decline of gangsta rap glorifying death, hatred, misogyny and a way of life that has no hint of courtesy can’t come too soon. When Snoop Dogg defends his derogatory usage of misogynist insults…

We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them mutha—-as say we in the same league as him.  Source

…he merely affirms that out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth spews, too.  Just like Don Imus and every other shockingly rude media person.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Scritzy April 17, 2007 at 10:09 am

First off, let me say I’m not defending Don Imus. I think he’s a jerk. Having been in radio myself for three years, I understand why the shock-jock trend came about. People listen. The Arbitron ratings rise. Advertisers want to buy time on a high-rated show. The almighty dollar and all that.

Yet I, too, have found it strange that others spewing hatred for money are either ignored, glorified or allowed to get away with it by explaining, "Hey, it was just a joke!" In the latter case, I am thinking of Rosie O’Donnell’s "ching-chong" remark that was also racially offensive. But nobody fired her. (Don’t get me started on her 9/11 remarks. This blog isn’t big enough to hold my comments on that issue.)

The use of the word "ho" is not a recent phenomenon. "[Girl's name] is a ho" was written frequently on the bathroom walls at my high school. (Another girl was singled out for such writings because she had the misfortune to have the last name "Tucker" — which rhymed conveniently with the word her detractors used about her.)

I am tired of the gangsta rap culture in which rappers of all races and backgrounds can celebrate their hatred for women, authority and even those in the same industry. I have said more than once that being a rapper is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Because violence is also glorified, it seems no one thinks twice about blowing away a rapper.

Unfortunately, I don’t see rappers being "fired" anytime soon. When controversial rap and heavy-metal discs first started appearing, there was outrage by parents’ groups and Tipper Gore (wife of the former VP). But that outrage was drowned out by cries of "Free speech! First Amendment! It’s just music!" As long as people continue to purchase such crap, then it’s going to keep filling the airwaves with hatred.

I used to tell my adoptive nephew constantly: Be careful what you listen to, be careful what you watch. He couldn’t understand why Aunty Scritzy was such an old fogey.

It’s simple, I told him. I go by the old computer term GIGO: Garbage in, garbage out. Stuff your head with enough garbage, and pretty soon there’s so much garbage that there’s no longer room for any good stuff.

Something to think about.

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