10 April 2007

Our Culture Of Pre-Packaged Apologies

In an era of Politically Correct overload, it is easy to grasp the appeal of a public personality like Imus. His enormous audience is indicative of the fact that we long to have small slices in our day where careful, PC, and ever guarded language is left at the door for a moment. It’s a needed release in a somewhat repressed society. As with all things there is a limit.

Imus has a long history of indiscriminate acerbic comments. Just a few examples are: Imus or his cast have called Colin Powell a “weasel,” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson a “fat sissy“. He and his colleagues also called the New York Knicks a group of “chest-thumping pimps.” He has also had such memorable quotes as, “Watchin’ Dan Rather do the news, he looks like he’s making a hostage tape. They should have guys in ski masks and AK-47s just standing off to the side.” And, “My goal is to goad people into saying something that ruins their life.”…something he may well have succeeded in doing to himself.

The distinction is that as rude and caustic as those might have been…they were not racist. The cries for apologies can be heard far and wide. Those of you who know me know that I am sick of all this apology nonsense. Some pencil pusher sits in a dark room and decides if an apology is needed, where and how it should be delivered, if it should be strong or contrite and their most important task is a cost -vs- benefit analysis on the offending remark and the orchestrated apology. What’s that quote? “The secret is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” I am not saying Imus himself doesn’t deeply (and sincerely) regret what he has done. I feel confident he does. But let’s face it, the damage control is a calculated and fiduciary decision. We can pull our chair up to the buffet and gleefully gobble up all the fake sincerity dished out in huge portions, or we can address the issue of responsible speech and the consequences if we are incapable of exercising it.

If you have an audience, you have a responsibility. If you don’t want that burden, then exercise your choice to have a more private existence. Thankfully, we no longer live in a society where racial slurs are acceptable. If Imus were to resign, it would be a clear recognition of unacceptable behavior, an understanding of consequence, and an unfeigned statement that having the loyal attention of so many is an honor; and abusing it made him less deserving of the privilege.

On the other hand, do we judge a man’s life of career and personal achievements on the basis of a single moment? Many have opined (and opined, and opined) that this was just “more of the same” from Imus. Untrue. Imus has spent his career delivering what nearly a half a million people came to expect from him - that small slice in their day when they can forget being careful and guarded and freely get a kick out of anyone and everyone being “roasted”. Imus has no history of racist remarks at all, so let’s stop lying about the man (Michelle Malkin) and stop turning the volume up. That only detracts from the singular problem as if to say, “Well, doing this once isn’t scandalous enough, let’s lie and say he’s been doing it for 30 years.” I have an idea, let’s send a message that ONCE is one time too many.

I will also say something similar to what I said regarding the Mel Gibson episode–Imus is not now the enemy; the picture of hate. But there are consequences. It is beyond my powers to decide what those should be, but must we reduce this to yet another opportunity for Sean Hannity to scream for apologies?

The Blog Talk On This:

Wizbang -
NBC Suspends Imus
The Moderate Voice - Don Imus’ Show Suspended From CBS Radio And MSNBC
Crooks and Liars - Imus Suspended for 2 Weeks: Updated
Obsidian Wings - Unfair To Trains

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