Are Imus’ Critics Sincere About Zero Tolerance?

by on April 16th, 2007

In response to Don Imus’ hateful remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, we have had to listen to one guardian of public civility after another lecture us on subject of the common decency. However, most of them seem disingenuous to me.

For one thing, they took advantage of the situation and used it as an opportunity to advance various tenets of the left-wing political agenda — like the call for universal health coverage, as if that had anything to do with the matter at hand. They also trotted out their trusty, but completely invalid, mantra about the lack of minorities and women in certain areas being proof positive of discrimination and unequal opportunity.

But more importantly, they focused too much on the race and gender of both the offender (in this case, Mr. Imus) and the targets of the offense (in this case, the female basketball players). Yes, Virginia, their concerns ring arbitrary and capricious. They seem to be saying that it’s okay to disparage one individual or group, but not another; and that it’s okay for one individual or group to do the disparaging, but not okay for another to do it.

They speak of a zero tolerance policy toward racist and sexist remarks, yet few of them seem concerned about this kind of stuff when it is being spewed (at black women) by the purveyors of rap and hip-hop. Why should rap and hip-hop performers be considered beyond reproach?

And how is it that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have the moral authority to accuse anyone of racism after the remarks they’ve made in the past? When white males are being lampooned and belittled by the entertainment business for the sin of simply being white males, where are the cries for justice then?

Where are the protests about Christians being regularly slandered on primetime television? Why isn’t there an organized effort targeting ABC for continuing to give Rosie O’Donnell a pass to say any outrageous thing she wants?

Perhaps my perceptions are wrong and they are truly serious about the civility and decency thing. If they are, it would be a real breath of fresh air and I would welcome that. Anyway, I’m going to call their bluff. Those who are sincere about these matters should be willing to agree to the following rule:

“No one holding a position in the entertainment or media business shall make a disparaging remark (even as a part of song lyrics) about anyone or any group of people, based on that person’s or that group’s race, gender, ethnic background, religion, creed, or personal appearance. Anyone violating this rule will be immediately fired and will forfeit opportunities to any future movie, TV, radio, recording, print, or Internet contracts or positions — no exceptions and no questions asked. The race, gender, ethnic background, religion, creed, or personal appearance of the offender shall not be taken into consideration.”

Anyone who would not agree to such a rule is obviously not serious about a zero tolerance policy against indecency or the lack of civility and should forever hold their peace (in order words, they should just shut the heck up).

Terry Mitchell