Firing Don Imus Stinks:
No, no, for the Rude Pundit, this doesn't pass the smell test, this whole Don Imus thing. You know the smell test - when you pick a pair of panties up off the floor and sniff them to see if they're not too rank to wear. If they smell okay, then you put 'em on, confident in your decision and able to go about your day. But if they stink and you still wear 'em, well, hell, then you'll just wonder when people are gonna sniff the air around you and know that you are foul.
We'll leave this topic behind next week for loftier discussions of Stuff That Matters (you shall know them by their numbers: 5 million lost e-mails, 15 month deployments, John McCain's poll data). But the Rude Pundit's gonna rassle with the implosion of Don Imus for a few minutes here.
The Rude Pundit fuckin' hates Imus. His show was boring - filled with guests who would ram their heads so far up his bony ass that they could talk to his desiccated liver. His cohorts, McGuirk and who-the-fuck-cares, were boobs who acted as if the show was their own private school for infantile boys, giggling at their farts and burps. And Imus himself, with his vocal intonation that was somewhere between a brain-damaged cowhand who's been kicked in the face too many times by jumpy steers and a drag queen with balls in his mouth, was virtually incomprehensible and definitely unlistenable. (One of the great ironies of the whole situation is the clarity with which Imus spoke the phrase "nappy-headed ho's." Most of one's time spent listening to Imus was chewed up wondering which words the mushmouthed bastard was saying.) And then there was Imus's charity work, his goddamn ranch, his fundraisers, other such confession booth absolution shit. It's like the frat house that says it's okay to rape passed-out co-eds because they have blood drives once a year.
So, like, on a very basic level, the Rude Pundit doesn't give a happy monkey fuck about Imus. And that's what's so fucking frustrating about not rejoicing in his firing from MSNBC and CBS. Man, what fun it would be to stand there while Imus's jugular is cut and then dance around in the spraying blood with all the others, like natives worshipping mad gods who must be appeased. But the Rude Pundit can't. And he feels a bit like the guy who can't find a free orifice to penetrate at an orgy.
Because, ultimately, what happened to Imus happened because of his speech, and if you wanna, say, giggle when the Rude Pundit attacks someone, then Don Imus gets to say his non-FCC violating insults. Yes, the Rude Pundit's aware that there's a qualitative, historical, and ethical difference between calling white conservative evangelicals nasty names and calling a women's college basketball team "whores," but it's still speech. Hate speech is speech; yes, sadly, angrily, we must call it "speech."
The Rude Pundit's concern can be divided into two incompatible areas with cliched names: the slippery slope and the sacrificial lamb.
The slippery slope is that we start getting 'em all fired, de-advertised, whatever. And this is where the Rude Pundit's grappling with this fucker like he's trying to put snakes in a bottle (yeah, yeah - it's early, the Rude Pundit hasn't slept yet, fuck off). No, of course MSNBC and CBS don't have to give Imus a platform for his speech. But this point is that they did. And they knew, they fucking well knew, what Imus was about. Just because this time his bullshit, sad, I'm-down-with-poor-man-lingo fucktardery got noticed by Media Matters and others, that doesn't mean that they didn't use Imus and profit off him and, to be sure, egg him on for ratings.
Advertisers, too, knew where they were putting their ad dollars. Like the lefty blog that gets Ann Coulter book ads (and doesn't decline them, it should be noted, because the blogger doesn't want to be seen as "endorsing" the products that advertise on the blog), companies know exactly who they are trying to reach and why. They knew the demographics of the show. They knew the content. No one involved is innocent or clean. And, to turn this shit around another way, yeah, if all the advertisers pull out, then, yeah, good capitalist society that we are, that's a reason to take Imus off the air. But that's not the reason we were given, even if it is the real cause.
But once Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, et al are chased from the air, what next? Television shows written by white people that portray women, gays, or non-whites negatively? Will conservatives turn this shit around to say, "Oh, look, that one guy with a blog called us 'tiny-dicked prison bitches'"? (And they are, you know.) Whose hurt feelings aren't allowed to get salved by uncomfortable silence? Who gets to decide?
The real solution is to use speech to combat speech, not silence. Rather than getting Imus fired, why not get people to stop listening? And if they don't, if they wanna listen, well, fuck, you lost then. But you need to keep trying to get people to shift away from one way of thinking. Just because you got rid of Imus doesn't mean the sentiments go away. Just because you come up with some pussy voluntary ban on the word "nigger," or you say "the n-word" instead, doesn't mean the word or the feeling goes away. Civil discourse? Fuck that. It's not possible. You don't change hearts and minds by silencing people. (The Rude Pundit has called for Ann Coulter to be kicked out of newspapers, but not for her pathetic little wet spaghetti slap insults - it's because she says things are facts that are, in fact, lies.)
Then there's the sacrificial lamb. That Don Imus is just a surrogate for our own inability to articulate a dialogue about these issues without yelling at each other on Fox "news." That, yes, admit it, it isn't possible to think about what Imus said without thinking about the rampant sexism of hip-hop (that, yes, Al Sharpton, showboating glory hog he may be, is also working to address). That Imus is taking the hit for the place of that speech in our culture and the endless degradation that cuts across race and class lines. And that, now that Imus is off-the-public-air, we can, like this blog will, move on to other things rather than get down to the nitty-gritty of curing the diseases that have plagued this nation since it began.
Imus is gone, yes, and, really, at the end of the day, who the fuck cares? Another asshole takes a dive. Wheeee.
But, see, like that bleeding sacrifice mentioned earlier, the Rude Pundit's afraid that once again we're going to think we've pleased the volcano god. The lava's still bubbling, and that fucker's gonna blow. The only sure way to save ourselves is to move the village. Chances are, though, we'll just wait for the next rumble and earthquake and toss in another virgin.