Tuesday, April 10, 2007

If you don't have anything nice to say...

When I was in my early 20's I was the host of a morning drive-time show at a (very) small market radio station. I did not have the life experience nor the professional experience to pull of my job with any flair but every weekday morning, for good or bad, there I was behind the microphone trying to come up with relevant topics to talk about with my news guy on air. The thought of recordings from that show resurfacing will occasionally cause me to wake up in a cold sweat. We were that bad.

On a Tuesday after Patriots Day - or Marathon Monday, as we refer to it in Massachusetts, since Patriots Day is the day the Boston Marathon is held - my news guy and I were doing a poor recap of the race. We segued, clumsily, into some banter about what was far more important to us - the Monkees Marathon shown on VH-1 on the same day. I forget what we joked about, but it was all clean I can assure you. Unfortunately, a few of our listeners did not catch our segue from Boston Marathon to cheesy 60's television show marathon and thought we were drawing comparisons between the Kenyan runners and primates. We weren't, but things can go bad very quickly when three of your ten listeners are up in arms about something they thought they heard. Our general manager insisted we clear the air the next day - against my protests about not wanting to give the topic more publicity and turn it into an even bigger issue - so that our few non-family (and therefore, not obligated to listen) listeners would not desert us.

Although we were innocent, I never forgot that lesson in how words can be harmful. Sitting in a small room with just another person and a couple of mics it's easy to forget that your conversation is not as intimate as it seems.

With that said I was disgusted when I heard what Don Imus and crew said on air the other day about the Rutgers womens basketball team.

Imus and his gang of sidekicks are known for their insults, which is one of the reasons why I don't listen to him very often. I don't find verbal abuse to be very funny. I do like a good joke at someone else's expense (coughGeorge W.cough) but there are some places that you just don't go. Like calling elite black women athletes "nappy-headed hos".

He's apologized but I don't think that will be of any comfort to the parents of those girls. As for the rest of us, we get to watch as Imus and his spin doctors do the talk show circuit, saying his "I'm sorry's", and then read about the slap on the wrist he received: a two week suspension.

Wow. That must really hurt him where he lives. Enjoy that vacation, Don.

Al Sharpton and the National Organization for Woman want his head on a platter, or at the very least his job. He won't be fired because he's a cash cow but, honestly, I don't really want him to be fired. As a professional with many years of experience he should know better, but a slip of the tongue should not be enough to ruin a man's career. However, I do think that a stiffer penalty would make him think twice before he let his tongue wag again.

But, then again, probably not.

I don't think he should be fired but I do think something should be done about it all. This issue goes far beyond a few unfortunate racial jokes. It's the meanness that has become so common that we hardly get offended anymore. I'm tired of shock jocks and radio "celebrities" that run off at the mouth for ratings. They're bullies. The bully who has always been a bully or the 100 pound weakling that got sand kicked in his face who now has a chance for revenge. My microphone is bigger than your microphone. Blah blah blah. Drop the act, boys, nobody cares about the size of your dick.

(Ann Coulter, I'm including you in that too. Put it away, dear, nobody's impressed.)

I'm probably coming off as an insufferable prig (I'm not. Really. Wanna hear a dirty joke?) so let me say that I'm against censorship and the homogenization of our culture. The beauty of this country is that people can say what is on their minds, even if it's ugly. But being mean for mean's sake - or worse, for ratings - is just wrong. I'm tired of all of it. And, yes, it bothers me more because I'm a mom now and I have a little person to watch out for. But it's getting to the point where you can't just turn the dial to get away from it because at every turn there's another ass with a megaphone. Or a microphone. Or a pen and a computer.

So, Don Imus, congratulations. You put your foot in your mouth and now people are talking about you. Hell, I'm talking about you. But to you and all the others like you, whether you're Republic, Democrat, Male or Female, if you've got something mean to say, save it. Try another tactic. How about wit? Or better yet, how about truth?

Or how about just keeping your big yap shut?

36 comments:

Bones said...

If you put a thousand monkeys in front of a typewriter, or in this case a microphone, eventually they will say something stupid. But did you see that Imus dyed his hair to make himself look younger? He should have dyed it to make himself look older. When Senator Byrd dropped the N-bomb on the Senate floor in 2001, it was dismissed as a "senior moment." If Imus had gone gray, maybe he could have gotten away with it, too.

Avalon said...

Mrs C~~ I wholeheartedly agree. I can remember my Mother listening to Imus in the car when I was a kid. Back then, he was sharp, releevant and often infammatory. Now he just seems mean and often at a loss for intelligent conversation. Obviously.

Christina said...

I totally agree. I love a little snarkyness, but going for full-out mean and insulting is wrong. I also tired of how many of the bullies of the past have latched on to our new "totally free speech" society to use words in place of fists now to hurt others.

I never did believe my mom about "sticks and stones...". Words hurt, people. Choose your words wisely.

Blog Antagonist said...

I'm with you 100%. I'm a strong advocate for free speech as well, but people have to realize that with freedom, comes responsibility. Just because something *can* be said, doesn't mean it should.

That said, there is a difference between poking a little good natured fun at someone, and thoroughly demeaning them. I don't have the time or patience for someone who gets their kicks out of out of being a boor and a bully. That's why I don't listen to Howard Stern either.

PunditMom said...

Yup. It's definitely time for him to keep his trap shut.

And you were in radio, too?

creative-type dad said...

Wow!

First of all -I think there are too many of these people on the radio/computer/tv, etc. That's the nature of a free society.
Whether or not they should be "silenced" or limited is a whole other topic.
I personally don't think anybody should be silenced for fear of who gets to determine that line.

I do think the public outcry has given him a well-deserved smack. Things like that never go away.

Second- you in radio? How cool-

Oh, The Joys said...

I hear you - and agree. I really dislike humor at other's expense... even celebrities (with the exception of (cough George w. cough). To me it's just mean - and cheap. Don Imus should make fun of himself. I'm sure he could find plenty of material there, no?

Redneck Mommy said...

Well said, Chick.

I am an avid fan of some well delivered wit, but that is entirely different than using racial slurs because you can't think of anything clever to say.

As a small-market radio gal myself, I wouldn't mind being the one to put a muzzle on Don Imus.

I believe in free speech, but he just annoys me.

margalit said...

Totally agree with you. A little bit of snarky is fine, but Imus went way over the line. I can't stand that kind of radio anyhow, and I've never once listened to him. Ugh. But I have to wonder why WOMEN aren't upset about the word "ho" that he used. Everyone is up in arms about nappy-haired, which was derogatory, but ho? HO? Puhleese white boy, women aren't Hos.

Meredith said...

I keep asking myself how I'd feel if my daughter were on that basketball team. I'd want him fired.

I'm a free speech/pro-snark advocate and talk radio show listener. I believe in letting the free market pressure to drive out or shun the bad apples.

However, I do think there are certain circumstances when you have to make examples out of people. If Imus were fired -- which I hope happens -- he could still get a talk show somewhere else. He would still have the right to speak as he pleases, just not in those venues.

By firing Imus, NBC and CBS Radio would be taking a firm stand that this type of racial and sexual attack would not be tolerated, particularly when the attack is directed at young women on a sports team.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Meredith - I appreciate your thoughts on this. I still don't know if firing is the answer. It's a temporary solution to a bigger problem, as Howard Cosell could attest to if he were alive. And as big as Imus is in the market he's still not the biggest fish in the pond. Someone else will come along and take his place and, as another commenter pointed out, he'd probably get another job doing something else.

I don't know what the answer is. As you pointed out if I were one of their parents I would probably want to have him fired too, but I'd be thinking with my heart. My head is wishing for a bit of moderation in our media.

Momish said...

I agree with you 100%. The best thing that could happen is for him to lose his listeners, lose his fans. If people stopped listening, then perhaps this type of bully tactics won't be so appealing for ratings. I personally cannot tolerate Howard Stern, never could. His bashing on woman never appealed to me. Unfortunately, it appeals to a lot of other people.

Until society cares and gets disgusted, it will go on and on. That said, I am glad there was such a big hubba over this, which hopefully will make the next schmuck think twice.

Mamma said...

Well said!

You may be a Sox fan, but you're still good people.

Kate said...

As someone who remembers Don Imus in his early days on WNBC radio with Howard Stern, the guy is, and has always been a total prick. The fact that he insults a woman's basketball team is by far no surprise to me (and my alma mater for goodness sake!), because he's been a total loser for a very long time.

Not that this was a commentary on Howard Stern, but I'm just thinking about the fact that since I can't hear him anymore since I don't have sirius, I'm imaging that he is havnig a field day with this slur.

Were you making the airwaves laugh as much during your radio days as you do now with your blogging?

ECR said...

I believe in the power of the free market to effect change while leaving the first amendment intact. If there is enough outrage, Imus's already abysmal ratings (his numbers barely register on Arbitron in a lot of markets) will fall even deeper into the pit-where-no-advertisers-dare-to-go, and his career will be over. If there is not enough outrage, he'll go on with his show. If the latter is the case, hopefully the indignation that does manifest itself will be enough to elicit some contrition out of the man.

There's no better place than the radio for this dialogue about radio. It is an incredible medium that has revolutionized free speech. Free speech is at the center of it all--for those who utter inflammatory words, and for those who seek to dispute them. I am not as concerned with moderation as I am with the idea that every voice be heard. And now, with things like blogs, and YouTube, and podcasting...there are even more opportunities to voice opinions. There are dangers, to be sure, but to me they are outweighed by the benefits of a free speaking society. There are exceptions to every rule, but that's my play book.

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

That's why he said it...so we would talk abut him...Otherwise, no one does.

Kevin Charnas said...

I refuse to give these people or their sponsers my attention. And that's where it's at. If they didn't have attention, they wouldn't be doing it. Sadly, the ones paying attention to them are just as stupid as they are.

Jennifer said...

I've never actually listened to him, but obviously I've heard of him.

His little stunt (and the stunts being pulled by all his PR people as of late) hasn't convinced me to become a listener.

I suspect he'll lose a bit of his audience over this.

cape buffalo said...

You know, I listened to Al Sharpton and Jesse (Hymietown) Jackson yap on endlessly about race this and race that this morning and wanted to whack them all. In my (blueish green) eyes, this whole thing is WAY more sexist.

Yes it was a stupid thing to say. Is it indicative of race relations in the U.S. on 4/10/07? Probably not.

sweatpantsmom said...

Don Imus is such an ass. I've always thought he was such a waste of airtime. I say fire him, not just for his recent offense but for just being boring. Give his slot to someone with some talent.

andi said...

Agreed.

And Ann Coulter? Ugh. Don't even get me started on that insufferable twit.

Elizabeth said...

I've never listened to Don Imus, but I've heard of him, so although I was shocked when I heard what he said, I wasn't surprised. I did hear the conversation replayed on TV, and the man who was speaking before him, who I believe is one of his producers, said about the women "those are some rough ho's". I haven't heard anything about the producer being chastised for his comment. Was Imus only reprimanded because his comment included the words "nappy headed"? In that case, it is more about race than about being disrespectful to the women. I'd like to know if the producer has apologized as well.

flutter said...

A-men.

Emily Snipes said...

How about he puts his money where is mic is & makes a VERY large donation to N.O.W. or Black History Education or something related.

I realize he already does a lot of charity work, but maybe putting his money into something he apparently had some negative feelings toward will make him think twice.

jen said...

amen. being mean for mean's sake...i can't imagine the point.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I heard a bit about this story a few days ago but never heard what he had actually said. When I heard his actually comment yesterday, I was shocked. To say that, and then say that he's sorry rings false to me. I truly believe that old age intensifies whatever your personality was at a younger age. Unfortunately, he's probably always talked like this but now lacks the insight to keep it off the air.

mamatulip said...

It's the meanness that has become so common that we hardly get offended anymore.

This is the heart of the issue for me. This isn't the first time Imus has said something shitty on air, and he's the latest in a string of celebs to run their mouths off and get 'caught' for it. This whole public snark for the sake of snark at someone else's expense is a trend that is very disappointing to me.

ewe are here said...

I've never been a fan of Imus or Stern or other 'shock jocks', and have refused to tune in to their kind. Just too nasty and mean spirited for my tastes. But I agree. I don't think Imus should be fired for his comments, primarily because I'm under the impression that he's mean and nasty about pretty much everyone and everything. I really don't understand those that enjoy tuning in to his shows... but maybe if people stopped tuning it, then he and others like him would be forced to change or disappear from the airwaves.

I guess for me, then, the real question is: who's tuning in to these people and why? And why give them even more publicity and attention, and therefor, power to draw listeners?

Julie Pippert said...

WELL SAID.

I think the best solution here is to let these sorts fall into the pool and drown in their own perceived cleverness (aka ignore them and let them end up talking to nobody except themselves).

And...there is nothing worse than an apology that sincerely reflects sorrow at getting in trouble, without true regret about having said what you did.

gingajoy said...

You've summed up my feelings on this completely--including the part about not wanting him fired. I think he is an unbelievable pig, but firing him would set an uncomfortable precedent. Also, why is there not the same furor created when Howard Stern opens his mysogynist trap? Why does race have to come into the equation for people to be truly up in arms? (and I don't want Stern fired either...sometimes he's actually funny...but that's not the point here....ok. i'll go away now...)

Anonymous said...

You are spot on Chicky...I couldn't agree with you more.

Pendullum said...

I do not listen to radio any more...Well, I do, but it is our National Newsradio...Kinda like your NPR...
I have no time or patience for radio disk jokeys as I hate to generalize but I will, they tend to be men,... the female is but a token and these voices never speak to me... never hold my attnention as I feel as though they are teenagers telling fart jokes at best...
Sad, so sad about this Don Imus but he is and has always been a loose canon...This is not the first time...and I dare say the apology should be made financially to the team where he donates part of his salary as a fine, to the team...

Tela said...

Awesome job, Mrs. Chicky. I agree with almost every point you make.

I hate all the publicity he's getting now. I also saw one of the Rutgers team members on the Today Show this morning, along with her coach. They brought up the good point about how their awesome season has been overshadowed by all of this nonsense/horribleness. They weren't even able to enjoy their Easter weekend because they are being hounded by the press. They didn't ask to be thrust in this awful spotlight, and now they have to deal with it all. It sucks for them!

Tela

Just found your blog--love it!

MotherBumper said...

We need the freedom of speech and I survive by having the freedom not to listen. If we stop listening to these cash-cow shock jocks we wouldn't have this specific problem. It's how numb we have become to the insults and lack of respect we hear on a daily basis that needs to be examined. If we stop listening, they will have to stop talking because no one will be paying them to top themselves each day.

Interesting and well written post Mrs. Chicky.

Pendullum said...

And by the way Mrs.Chicky... I had to come back to say... That I would probably LOVE a radio programme that you would be on... As you would be witty, smart and very insightful...

julia said...

Hey, look, you got the same anonymous freak bag comments I got last week! Go, Mrs. Chicky!

WRT Don Imus - I'm glad he was fired (he was, today, at least by MSNBC). This is not the first time he's used racial and/or misogynistic language. He said that Venus and Serena Williams should be in National Geographic instead of Sports Illustrated. Disgusting stuff.