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My pal Kailani at An Island Life hosts Aloha Friday, based upon a very popular term used in Hawaii when island residents take it easy and look forward to the upcoming weekend – kind of like T.G.I.F.

Each Friday, Kailani posts a simple question or topic of conversation. Visitors leave a comment on Kailani’s site and then post a question or short discussion topic on their own site. Participants visit each others’ sites and respond with a comment! Even if you do not post a question or topic on your site, you can still play by simply leaving a comment!

Here’s my question for this edition:

Do you think that Don Imus should have been allowed to return to the radio airwaves following his dismissal last year?

And what do you think about the current controversy surrounding his remarks about Adam “Pacman” Jones?  Do you believe his explanation about his motivation?

My answer:

This is the exchange that took place during Imus’ WABC-AM program this past Monday, June 23, 2008, in response to a news report from Sportscaster Warner Wolf that Adam “Pacman” Jones, cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, was arrested a sixth time:

WOLF: Oh, defensive back Adam “Pacman” Jones, recently signed by the Cowboys. Here’s a guy suspended all of 2007, following a shooting at a Vegas nightclub.

IMUS: Well, stuff happens. You’re in a nightclub, for God’s sake. What do you think’s going to happen in a nightclub? People are drinking, they’re doing drugs, there are women there, and people have guns. So there — go ahead.

WOLF: He’s also — he’s been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005.

IMUS: What color is he?

WOLF: He’s African-American.

IMUS: Oh, well, there you go. Now we know.

When Imus returned to the airwaves six months ago, I was disappointed.  His disgusting pejorative commentary about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team may have shocked many Americans, but it came as no surprise to those of us who have been aware of his on-air antics for many years.  I was among those who were delighted and relieved when CBS finally fired him — the punishment was appropriate to his ongoing pattern of conduct.

However, I gave Imus the benefit of the doubt after I heard him speak about meeting with the members of the basketball team and their coach, C. Vivian Stringer.  He seemed genuinely moved and honestly contrite following his encounter with those talented young women and their accomplished leader. He claimed to have gained insight into how hurtful his words had been and, when he was given a second chance by WABC-AM six months ago, pledged to mend the wounds he inflicted with his racist and sexist commentary.

But his remark about Jones’ lengthy arrest record is alarming.  Reverend Al Sharpton reacted quickly, stating:  “I find the inference of his remark disturbing, because it plays into stereotypes.  Any use of stereotypes is always counterproductive.”

Karith Foster, Imus’ co-host, immediately came to Imus’ defense, arguing that his comment must be understood “in context.”  Wolf said: “[A]nybody that listens to the show knows that whether it’s a politician or an athlete or anyone, someone who’s obviously guilty, you joke and say, ‘Well, it must have been racism.’ I mean, it’s a joke. I mean, we all know that ‘Pacman’ is no model citizen. The guy’s been arrested and suspended. So it’s a joke.”

Given a day to formulate an explanation, Imus said on Tuesday, June 24, 2008, that “[t]he point was, in order to make a sarcastic point, I asked Wolf what color he was.  What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason.  I mean, there’s no reason to arrest this kid six times. Maybe he did something once, but everyone does something once.”  He called the initial outrage over his remarks “ridiculous,” citing the fact that the staff of his new radio show is diverse, including an African-American producer and two African-American co-hosts, one male and one female.

As to the interpretation of his Monday commentary as bigoted, he asked rhetorically, “How insane would I have to be? What would I be thinking?”

I agree with one commentator’s assessment of Imus’ current status as a radio personality:  He is “irrelevant.” He was, for many years, a powerful media voice with a large audience. Today, he may be back on the radio, but few people care. He suffered a huge “fall from grace” in 2007 from which he will never, in my opinion, recover. He is now incapable of achieving the level of success he once enjoyed.

Do I believe his explanation about his latest remarks? No, I think Don Imus is a bigot and his explanation transparent. I don’t listen to his radio program and never will because he has no credibility or believability. He had an extensive history of making inappropriate remarks about many different groups of people, but CBS chose to look the other way for many years. It was only when his comments about the Rutgers University players caught the attention of and angered so many people that CBS realized they could no longer ignore the elephant in the room and finally took action.

Stereotypes are the categorization of people as a result of preconceived notions or perceptions. Stereotyping another human being is the act of attributing certain assumed characteristics to him/her based upon his/her membership or perceived membership in a particular group of persons with shared qualities.

Imus has always employed stereotypes in order to get a laugh. Sadly, despite being given the kind of second chance that most people only dream about, he hasn’t changed. He’s not going to change, despite his protestations to the contrary.

And for that reason alone, I will never listen to him — or any other celebrity who engages in similar behavior. I don’t buy his explanation, as I think he slipped and once again revealed his true, bigoted view of the world. I am going on record as predicting that it won’t be the last time and, eventually, he will again lose his platform, with the only difference being that even fewer people will miss him than did the first time his program was silenced. It’s just a question of how long it takes.


12 Comments

  1. Thank you for visiting my blog earlier and for sharing that special gift that your husband gave you.

    Please pardon me if I don’t answer your question. I’m not familiar with the situation. I’ll just make it up to you next time.

  2. um no, at first yea, people get mad say things and regret them but clearly after this last fiasco he hasn’t learned to keep his mouth in check. I say take him off their air

  3. I have never cared for Don Imus however, I care even less about Howard Stern who is rude, insensitive and foul. I’m surprised at what he gets away with too.

    Cathis last blog post..Aloha Friday

  4. Kimberly Kaye

    He never should have been allowed back on the airwaves. His latest comments just prove that point.

    Kimberly Kayes last blog post..Aloha Friday

  5. Audra Marie

    I have no idea. The man is offensive in what he says, but what about someone claiming the name of Jesus is offensive? Would I then not be allowed to talk freely about him? I hate that there are people who feel the need to belittle others, but unfortunately, by stripping freedom of speech, I may end up crippling my own speech. Does that make sense?

    Clearly the man is not truly sorry for his actions and hopefully now that people can see through him, less will listen to his hateful remarks.

  6. Don Imus always has been and always will be a Shock Jock. If he was going to be fired and kept out then it should have happened long ago. . . and I wish it had been.

    With that in mind, I heard the latest controversy. I listened to NBC show the entire clip and then the part that many in the media are using. I personally felt that if heard out of context it was horrible, but when listening to it entirely it was simply a statement, nothing more. Would most people say something like that, no way – but then again we are not Imus thank goodness.

    Glad I found you from Aloha Friday – have a great weekend 🙂

    TheAngelForevers last blog post..My little guppy

  7. first of all, let me say that i don’t listen to him. i just hear the news about him through mainstream media.

    i was disappointed when he was allowed back onto the radio airwaves. i felt that his remarks cut deep enough that it would be understood that not many people would want to hear him on the radio (or any place) any more.

    as far as his latest comments; i really don’t know enough. i try to give people the benefit of the doubt but i think imus may have already dug his grave a little too deep.

    diana/sunshines last blog post..tell me i’m not the only one

  8. I think he should not take part in air waves

    Unique Buttonss last blog post..Unique Polymer Clay Embellishment Button No. B309

  9. Well when you say things you mean then it shows the true nature of your heart. Why should people like that be let back on the air?

    Oneils last blog post..Shade Grass Seed

  10. Jack Johnson

    While what he said is not right, free speech is free speech. If you don’t like what he has to say don’t listen. If no one listens, he will be off the air soon enough.

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