Thursday, April 12, 2007

More than enough Imus

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Updating this post, Imus has been fired by CBS.

Good riddance. (Was it the time of your life?)

Although I still think the story has been revoltingly overblown, although I think the Rutgers players would have been better off telling him to go fuck off than contributing to the story, and although I defend Imus's right to speak his mind and generally reject efforts to censor speech, this has been my preferred outcome all along.

But what of CBS? Just like MSNBC, and more so, it was more than happy to profit off Imus's popularity as long as it could. And that means it was more than willing to put up with his bigotry while the money was rolling in. Imus is the bad guy here, but that tells us a lot about how the media operate. It's not about principle, it's about profit. (No revelation there, I admit.)

On CNN this evening, Jack Cafferty, whom I generally like, defended Imus as a great interviewer, noted that everyone wanted to be on his show, as if that excuses him, and suggested that this whole sordid episode would get America talking about race again.

How ridiculous. This isn't about race or even racism. It's about, as I've said before, a stupid man who, once more, said a stupid thing. And he's gotten what was coming to him. At long last.

Free speech is a foundational element of liberal democracy. And there are many like Imus, and much worse than Imus, out there on the airwaves, unleashing their venom, maybe even trying to be funny about it. But Imus was one of the big ones and the platform from which he could speak freely was as prominent as they come.

Let's hope that his replacement -- who (of course) should be allowed to speak freely even by media conglomerates that put self-interest before individual rights and the public good -- isn't racist or sexist.

Is that too much to ask?

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