Marla R. Stevens

Fire Imus

Filed By Marla R. Stevens | April 10, 2007 7:03 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Entertainment, Living, Media, Politics, The Movement
Tags: basketball, bigotry, Don Imus, homophobic behavior, LGBT families, Racism, Sexism

I wanted to let the rage die back so I could write rationally. It hasn't. Call me Herodias if you like but I want the man's head on a platter -- at least figuratively. A two-week suspension after his career filled with bigotry seeping out like toxic waste from a rotten old barrel is not enough. He should be sent to his ranch permanently because karma like his will take more than a lifetime to resolve and he needs as much of a head start as he can get.

He's now devolved to a bad caricature of a post-straying husband on Dr. Phil ...

... lamenting that his wife won't forgive his indiscretions, saying "I've apologized already. What more does she want?", while not ever taking the trouble to actually listen to his wife to find out why she still doesn't trust him and what it will take for her to do so.

In contrast, the remarkable women from Rutgers' basketball team -- a team that most didn't think had a viable chance of making it to the Elite Eight, much less contending for the title; a team of valedictorians, future physicians, and other top professionals; and a team of ladies all. Their dignity and eloquence, their sorrow at having their moment of hard-earned glory besmirched, and their generosity in being willing to help their detractor come to a real understanding of his offense is impressive. At their young age, they already stand head and shoulders above the unfunny man to whom the powerful have strangely increasingly come for media access.

I didn't hear what he had to say live -- I'd long given up trying to suffer through his insensitive banter, having decided after surviving cancer that the constant exposure to emotional toxicity that being a gay rights organizer sadly entails had reached a body burden level I could no longer tolerate. I needed to dial it back and discovered that I could eschew monitoring the Imus kind -- that their worst poison of the sort I needed to know about would filter through anyway.

Besides, I'd heard it before. My grandparents, my father, countless cousins, while generally using less crude language, all polluted the air with bigotry of many kinds. I'd heard it from Susan Smith in her dragging forth of the stereotype of dangerous black men to cover her own criminality. I'd heard it from gay people who were quick to criticize black people for not participating in gay rights work until it came time for them to give up a place of power so that a person of color could have a place at the table and gay men and lesbians who treated each other with equal disregard over sex or gender identity.

I have seen the Rutgers women before, too, in the faces of other members of my family -- black people, gay people, and women who have been shut out by others dressing them in suits from a real or poisoned imaginary past that bear no resemblance to my loved ones' beautiful, self-grown raiments of the now -- robbed of the joy they have earned and the simple humanity no one should ever have to earn by those for whom the pile of humans they must climb to feel big will never be enough because the holes they are trying to climb their way out of are those of their own making that the stepping on others only dig deeper.

The cure is not accomplished by Imus' employers offering him endless opportunities to demonstrate the pseudo-manly impatient foot-in-mouth rudeness that fueled the leakage of his obvious knee-jerk bigotry. Nor is it to give air time to those who would excuse Imus' behavior because others make money off of tastelessly expressed racism, sexism, and homophobia. It certainly isn't by putting people on air who echo Imus' husband-on-Dr.-Phil lack of understanding of what it takes to make an apology real. Any fool can wait out two weeks and, as Dr. Phil would say, time by itself heals nothing.

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Why is this time more outrageous than any other time he's been a dick? That's what I don't get. This guy has been doing this schtick of insult everyone he can find for 40 years. He regularly calls people sissies and makes homophobic slurs. Yet, calling some girls "nappy headed hos" is the penultimate in hate speech?

I don't think he should lose his job. What he said was gross, ignorant, racist, and misogynistic - and he should have to do his penance - but calling for his job is too much. It's knee-jerk.

This is an opportunity for everyone to learn and grow. Imus gets to see what his words can do to affect real people. These girls get to see what speaking truth to power is like as a minority. We, the spectators, get to see the process work itself out and hopefully learn something ourselves. Racism is real, bigotry is real, misogyny is real. Firing him doesn't fix the problem, it just shuffles it out of the limelight.

There is an anger that is righteous in this, but Imus insults people for a living. We can't hang the guy for taking an insult too far. But we can take him to the woodshed.

Marla R. Stevens | April 11, 2007 1:25 AM

I'd agree with you if this had been his first time, second time, etc. but he's gotten to be like a fire insurance Christian: Sin, repent, sin, repent ... repeat as needed.

How about a compromise of when his apologies are real, then his two weeks of contemplation of them begin?

My bet is that it will work out to have the same practical effect of his being fired.

Imus, Coulter, Dungy (omg, where's the mouthwash) are national figures speaking from national platforms. None are merely expressing personal opinion they are expressing and perpetuating bigotry, the guise is personal opinion/freedom of speech. Fire em, hell yes!

This just in: MSNBC boots Imus!!