Friday, April 13, 2007

-exhale- Let's try this ONE more time, shall we?

because i am just the most optimistic fucker on the planet and believe that sooner or later it's gotta sink in -somewhere-.

Okay. Let's start with this set of observations at Other Magazine:

# The white (male) commentary ranges from “You’re all reverse racists this is free speech fuck you lynching Don Imus Free speech fuck you!” to (sadly, wryly) “Yeah, he shouldn’ta said it, but it’s teh blacks overreacting that gives his comments meaning” (no shit. somebody actually made that argument.)

# Not a single white male in my search has been found to have the imagination to wonder what the Rutger’s women’s basketball team members feel about all this … like maybe are they feeling hurt or insulted. It’s all about Don Imus and what he does and doesn’t deserve. Can it be that this all comes down to a lack of empathy? Talk about identity politics! Look who’s identifying now!...

8. Let me break it down for you again:
* “nappy-headed”: no, whites don’t get to use it. It’s insulting: it’s too familiar, it’s too racist. And no, you don’t get to be arbiter of what teh blacks get to say to each other. Buleeve me, if you bothered to read anything that black people write, you’d already know there’s a long-standing and lively discussion of this issue. Your input is not needed.
* “ho’s”: no, you don’t get to say this about any women, black, white, or ignored. “Ho” is short for “whore”, which is insulting slang for “prostitute” and an insult commonly used to deride women, in the belief that a woman’s chastity is still important. Once again, black rappers may well be using it. Doesn’t mean Don Imus gets to. See above. Plus, who says black rappers get to use it with impunity?
* “jigaboo”: also not okay. No, it’s not from Spike Lee. It’s an old school racist term on par with the “n-word”, only never used as much. There is no universe in which it is not offensive.
* “context”: here’s the context, folks. The Rutgers women’s basketball team was news because they had just lost a championship game. Imus and pal decided it was appropriate to discuss both the Rutgers players’ and their opponents’ looks, because they are womenz. They pronounced the Rutgers team “rough-looking” (i.e. not good looking) and backed it up by saying they had tatoos and were “nappy-headed ho’s” and “jigaboos”. Spot the “ism”! This is racist, sexist, and entirely off topic. There is no way you can tweak this context to make it okay.

9. How long, sweet Jesus, must we sing this song?

(cross-posted at SeeLight


and sure enough, as if to confirm, the VERY FIRST RESPONSE out of the gate:

# Scott Says:
April 12th, 2007 at 9:32 pm

For the love of everything, please take back the internet from whining, thin-skinned hypocrites who like to tear down anyone they feel is beneath them, and police everyone’s language. Free speech is free speech, and granted, there are restrictions on it in certain mediums, but it is NOT your duty to police the world. Yes, I’m white and male. But I’m also dating a black woman. Know what she thinks? She doesn’t care a whit, and thinks everyone is overreacting… a lot. And no, “ho” does not mean whore. This is the ’00s, people, new contexts are given to words all the time. “Ho” would refer to attractive women in ebonics. Look it up. I just wish everyone would mind their own damn business.

So! how many cliches can we spot!

“my ___ is ___ and s/he thinks it’s just dandy”

"i haven't read or will not acknowledge a single point you've made, certainly not about o 'lack of empathy' or 'how do you imagine the women feel' or the whole thing was a completely gratutious and hateful and unprovoked attack by a very public and hence powerful figure on people who'd done nothing wrong in the damn first place, never even mind racist and sexist; it's all about how people should mind their own BUSINESS--just like I'm doing right now"

"free speech! help help i'm/we're/Don Imus is being oppressed!"

“ebonics!” "'ho' is now a compliment among Those People!" bonus points! nope, nothing offensive there!

“you’re all just too sensitive; as opposed to all the people like little ole me who nearly shit a kidney when it’s so much as implied that i or someone i admire might o horrors gasp shock be saying or doing something RACIST. I AM NOT A RACIST! I AM NOT DEFENSIVE!! YOU’RE THE RACISTS! YOU’RE DEFENSIVE, YOU FUCKING FUCK!!1ELEVEN!”

zzzzZZZZZzzzz. -who’s- whining? -who’s- thin-skinned? hey, y’know what, sunshine, “free speech” does not mean “can say anything you damn please with no consequences or even disapproving response whatsoever.” I know that’s a really fucking difficult concept, but TRY to process it. ALL "free speech" means is, you cannot be prosecuted or persecuted by the State for speech, in word, print or (we interpret) any other media. You understand the difference between "government" and "business," don't you? fine upstanding middle-of-the-road American boyo like yourself? Of course you do. Why, it's almost tax time!...

No one’s throwing Imus in jail. No one’s released the hounds. He has a high powered media job (which in fact, no, the First Amendment does -not- guarantee you, even if yer Mom did tell you you’re really, really special); as with any other job, his position there is not unconditional. In this case, his job is to say things that pull in an audience and make his bosses and corporate sponsors money. If he’s losing the audience–and he is–surprise! Bosses worry he’s gonna lose ‘em money; buh bye Imus. Unless you’re prepared to now say that yer agin’ capitalism 101, so sorry: that one won’t play.

p.s. your fly’s unzipped.


Eric Stoller said...

This was great. Thanks for posting this... I'll have to check out Other Magazine.

"p.s. your fly’s unzipped." [giggles]

Elayne said...

But seriously Belledame, how do you really feel? :)

What Eric said.

I'm still amazed that people don't get "context is everything." A word or phrase that might be innocuous in one setting is liable to be toxic in another (such as a shock-jock radio show with a history of abuse).

Sassywho said...

i think i'm just super sensitive, cause sometimes when i'm cutting onions i cry. ugh.

belledame222 said...

goddam p.c. vegetables.

Eric Stoller said...


Eli said...

because i am just the most optimistic fucker on the planet

Apparently so. Although I did attempt a "let me explain this ONE MORE TIME" post as well.

But the thing is, if you're a racist-in-denial, you *need* people like Imus to reassure you that your worldview is perfectly normal. If you take away the people who give them validation, they're naturally going to feel threatened - God forbid that they should be left to depend on their own meager resources (and occasional pliant, possibly-fictional black wife/girlfriend) to justify their sorry selfs.

Also, look at this as test-marketing and practicing for the inevitable "Save Glenn Beck" campaign.

belledame222 said...


Elizabeth McClung said...

"Free speech is free speech" - this is one phrase I wish the US would just grow out of - it makes the whole nation look like a pouty 14 year old ("I can say what I want man, it's a free country!") - when the rest of Europe and Canada and other nations recognize that certain things are hate speech and that one is not allowed to say whatever you want in a collective society just because you want to and that hate speech is not "Free" because it impacts others and passes laws accordingly. While 200 years ago the US was a beacon of what was possible; now it is has become shackled to the notion that any individual, no matter how much hate or ignorance filled, should hurt an unlimited amount of people just so long as it comes as spoken opinion: "free speech" (insert vomiting sound)

belledame222 said...

well on the other side of it of course there's the whole pr0n business, and specifically the UK "extreme pr0n" law thingie that's what's getting peoples' latex and/or cotton underoos in a knot right now i gather...


me, i'm not even sure about "hate speech"--it depends on context (threats are obviously not covered, neither is revealing someone's personal information). i -do- think that it's high time some people learned that if you say inflammatory shit, then yep, some people are going to be inflamed, not always chuck you indulgently on the chin and giggle about how NAUGHTY and INCORRECT you are. because you hurt real people.

and if you lose your job or popularity over it? once more for the slow: there is no "asshole job protection" clause -anywhere- in the Constitution. you pays your money and you makes your choice. hell, Lenny Bruce went to jail and was essentially hounded to death; that WAS the State going after his freedom of speech; and by the way, you, sir, are no Lenny Bruce. in short, that gag has whiskers on it; your fifteen minutes are WAY over; go sit your sorry dessicated ass down if you can't evolve. we're DONE.

belledame222 said...

or put it this way: rights bring responsibility. say what you want to, but you do it with the understanding that it's not in a vacuum; there are other people in the equation, you don't get to say what you want AND control the response. no.

Eli said...

Imus has the right to call women nappy-headed hos. We have the right to call him a racist, sexist asshole. His advertisers have a right to bail on him. MSNBC and CBS have the right to fire him.

Imus can continue to say pretty much whatever he pleases, but no-one owes him a megaphone to project his voice any further than yours or mine.

This is true of all the other hate-talkers too - they have a right to spew garbage (although I believe there *are* some restrictions on stuff like incitement which some of them have probably crossed, but you go to war with the FCC you have...), but they don't actually have a right to do so *on the air*.

The problem is not with the right to free speech itself, so much as with an overly liberal (so to speak) interpretation. Kinda like reading the Second Amendment as giving you the right to own a bazooka.

Central Content Publisher said...

I would fire Inus if I were his boss. Just on principal.

Is every white male on the internet a privileged cracker? - claire light @ Other magazine

I'd fire her too. But hey, I'm not the forgiving type.

That said, neither qualifies as hate speech. Nasty speech, ignorant speech, even libel, but not hate speech.

R. Mildred said...

Imus said "jigaboo"?


rights bring responsibility.

The freedom to act comes with the freedom to accept the consequences of your actions.

You've read Pratchett's Going Postal right?

Cassandra Says said...

Sigh. Predictable.
The sad thing is that you're right, no one will bother to think about how the actual people being insulted feel. Because damn, they're female and black! Can't ask a bunch of white boys to empathise with them. It might make their heads hurt.
Amazing how many people don't grok the idea of context, too. Example - I'm Scottish. I make jokes about Scots being alcoholics and eating disgusting things like deep fried Mars Bars all the time to my family BUT if some random non-Scottish person was to do that it would not be appreciated by most Scots. Similarly, Mr Cassandra gets to make jokes about Catholics because he was raised Catholic, but I don't. And oddly enough I don't feel the need to whine about that. He's not oppressing me or denying me free speech.
And also...what Eli said. Of course Imus has the right to say whatever he wants...he just doesn't have the right to expect that there will be no consequences. Other people have the right to say what THEY think, too, up to and including "you're fired".

belledame222 said...

RM: no, i've been more Gaiman than Pratchett to date at least (didn't like their collaboration, haven't read much more of Pratchett)

belledame222 said...

anyway, yeah, i don't expect what Imus said there qualifies as "incitement;" as for the rest though, what Eli said.

people also have the right to write to the sponsors and threaten to boycott.

Eli said...

Imus said "jigaboo"?

His asshole producer did.

R. Mildred said...

didn't like their collaboration, haven't read much more of Pratchett

Good Omens was apparently Gaimen's really really early work, and it's nothing like the discworld novels, especially once you get past the early ones where TP is trying to balance meaning with mocking fantasy novels that take off of tolkien - he throws away the mockery and switches to satire of real life and history after those ones.

Then he just gets increasingly more feminist, lots of strong female leads (the tiffany aching books are a mockery of harry potter, and they're damn good) he's far more feminist than wheden is, and more progressive too.

donna said...

Yes, I wonder how many of these commenters run around at work saying such things and get away with it.

Or perhaps that's the real problem - they would LIKE to be able to do this at work, and can't....

UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

"Also, look at this as test-marketing and practicing for the inevitable "Save Glenn Beck" campaign. "

I can stand that guy ALMOST as much as I can stand Rush Limbaugh-- that is, not at all. Which is ironic in a way, since I'm sure that's NOT what my mother was trying to do by having them on in the car all the time.

belledame222 said...

RM: fair enough, i'll give him another shot, then.