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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."


Monday, April 09, 2007

It's a weighty matter, this Don Imus racial slur, and NPH thinks that neither the un-nuanced tarring and feathering nor the knee-jerk defensiveness is going to do any good. Here's what NPH thinks.

First, Imus said what he said. He called a basketball team full of African American women "nappy-headed hoes." Though the remark was made in the context of his shock comedy radio show, NPH doesn't think context explains the remark. It's inexcusable anywhere.

Second, Imus has profusely apologized (here on Friday and that here again today)for the remark, taking full responsibility and not bagging it with the standard issue "if I offended anyone" line. He's said it was wrong. He's said it was stupid. He's said it was inexcusable and he doesn't know why he said it. Further, he went on Al Sharpton's radio show (read the transcript here) knowing that Sharpton has called for Imus' firing. As far as public apologies go, especially public apologies for racist remarks, Imus is the best, most sincere NPH has ever seen.

Third, Sharpton and other African American figures who have called for Imus' firing have a good argument. These are men with daughters, and when Imus what he said they heard an insult to all African American women. Their calls for his firing are not over-the-top, and they're not opportunistic. They simply want some accountability.

So NPH (who listens to Imus whenever he can--though not last Wednesday) thinks that a firing (or at least a very serious suspension) is in order. No, Imus is not a racist, but, as a public figure with a massive popular following, he's got to be held to some kind of standard. You just can't say that kind of thing and walk away with a mea culpa, no matter how sincere or public it is.

At this point NPH would gain respect for him if he resigned.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 3:57 PM


I'm not a regular listener of the show, but a couple of articles I have read have indicated that this has a "Straw that broke the camel's back" type of feel to it, too...that he's maybe danced on this land mine before without it going off, and that gave him the "courage" to try it again.

I don't have anything against the guy per say...but I guess I wonder if he can ever really be a viable radio talk show host now, or would just be a caricature if he went on. Things aren't going to be "business as usual" for him if he keeps going. Resignation may be the only way he gets some peace and quiet.

Anyway...good to have you back.
commented by Blogger Scott, 7:44 AM  
Yeah, Imus's show is almost entirely based on these kinds of slurs and insults to people, although this is the first time he's gone racial to this extent.

I really don't believe the guy's a racist. I believe he's an entertainer, and as such always has to push the envelope to get a laugh (his defense has been that he was trying to be funny). But you're right Scott: something has definitively changed here. A line has been crossed that can't be crossed back over.
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 8:30 AM  
I have a hard time being as certain as you that he is not a racist. Are those words that just come casually tumbling out of your mouth? Not mine. If it's not in there, it's not going to come out. If he's not a racist, he has very effectively portrayed himself as one.
commented by Anonymous Brian, 6:31 PM  
I would contend that it's in there in all of us and that, in the words of that musical you love, "everyone's a little bit racist."

When I say that I don't think Don Imus is a racist, I mean that I don't think he's not a racist to the extent that his remarks would . . .

Okay, so maybe he's a racist. And, as of today, an unemployed one at that.
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 6:41 PM  

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