Ho, Ho, Ho
Jesus H. Christ. Enough already.
So Don Imus said a stupid, tasteless, racist thing. In our strangely schizophrenic culture, where political correctness thrives alongside mean-spirited shock, that is enough to put a screeching end to a nearly 30-year career.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm no Imus fan. The guy has a lengthy and ignominious history of racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia. He's a prick, OK. His irascibility always struck me as more tiresome than endearing, and I never really understood why such Beltway pundits as Maureen Dowd, Jonathan Alter, Paul Begala and the like were deferential to him while tripping all over themselves to be on his program. Such politicos weren't ballsy enough to go on Howard Stern (who likely wouldn't have any interest in talking to them, unless they were on the Sybian), but Imus was irreverent enough to give the talking-head types a bit of hipster credibility.
And now Imus has been reduced to mea culpas before a dangerous demagogue like Al Sharpton. Now he is eating shit doled out by Jesse "New York is Hymietown" Jackson. And now he is out of a job.
CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves has placed the Imus fiasco in the context of the ever-wheezy culture war:
"He (Imus) has flourished in a culture that permits a certain level of objectionable expression that hurts and demeans a wide range of people. In taking him off the air, I believe we take an important and necessary step not just in solving a unique problem, but in changing that culture, which extends far beyond the walls of our company."
Yeah, when I think of a network gutsy enough to change the culture, I think of the home of Survivor and Big Brother.
Listen, we're a big, tough, grownup country, and one presumes Rutgers' women's basketball team can withstand the ill-considered taunt of a cranky old fart. I don't fault CBS for booting Imus off the air; that's the company's prerogative. But I do think the furor over a bone-headed remark -- and how it subsequently has been amplified in the mass media -- is more reflective of a hypocritical, weak-kneed, squeamish society that feigns offense while simultaneously dishing it out at will.