Firing Don Imus Stinks
I agree with a lot of what he says.
I listened to Imus for a time in the 1970s. I wasn’t what you would call a fan, though. He provided some cheap (and I did know they were cheap) laughs. But I never sensed it was anything but naughty humor for him. I never sensed hatred from him.
Then Howard Stern came in and ramped up the vulgarity. I couldn’t — and still can’t — stand him.
I listened to a lot of talk radio in the 1970s. WMCA (570 AM) was the talk station in New York City and it had an interesting lineup of hosts who had a variety (I will not use that fucking term “diversity”) of viewpoints. Talk radio wasn’t, back then, you will be shocked to learn, all political. Hosts actually had on real guests — like book authors, article writers, doctors, lawyers, singers, and others. Political talk was rare, but race-based talk wasn’t. One host in particular, Bob Grant, specialized in race-baiting, constantly hammering at blacks (is it OK to still use that word? or is it Afro/African-American now?) at every opportunity. His favorite phrase was that the government was “catering” to blacks. He also went after homosexuals, constantly calling them “double-gaited ones” and “fagolas” (pronouned FAY-goh-lahs).
When the 1980s rolled around, I stopped listening. WMCA had, by that time, been sold; Bob Grant had moved on to WOR (710 AM), where he was soon fired. The legendary WABC (77 AM) was murdered as a rock-and-roll station and reincarnated as talk radio. Bob Grant wound up there.
In the late 1980s, I started listening again. Christ, what a cesspool talk radio had become. There was Rush Limbaugh (who is now trying to eradicate all memory of what his show was really like — e.g., no more playing My Boy Lollipop for “Homo-SEX-yoo-ull/Barney Frank Updates”). Bob Grant had become a sour old — and old-sounding! — man whose favorite word was now “scumbag.” All the talk was political, all the talk was ugly, and all the talk was hate-filled. Talk radio no longer had hosts, it had pimps who were whoring the audience.
And it still does!
But guess what?
It’s a fucking free country, goddammit.
Or it’s supposed to be!
I haven’t listened to talk radio for perhaps a decade now. Bob Grant was ultimately fired from WABC for making a very nasty comment about the death of Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown (the vultures had already been circling and tried to take him down several months earlier, incited by a hit piece published in New York magazine combined with Grant being made an issue of in a New Jersey gubernatorial election). He wound up back at WOR where he was given star treatment and where he became even nastier yet also cowardly. He recently retired (good riddance!), finally sensing that his time had passed and that he was never going to get Rush-like stardom (which he had always craved).
Grant turned up last night on local TV to comment about the Imus firing. It was all self-serving (as is usual for Grant), with him being shocked, shocked! (in that famous “There’s gambling in Casablanca?” way), that such comments were ever made (someone out there must have tapes of Grant in the 1970s! He should be made to listen to himself). This from a guy who always trotted out his right to free speech and who built a career on spewing words and phrases calculated to incite hatred in the New York City populace. Or, more to the point, that fraction of the population who listened to him.
And that is the point: None of these hosts — not even Limbaugh — command the attention of the entire country’s population. No matter how large their audiences get, it is still a fraction. There are more people who do not listen — people who tried them and decided never again to listen, people who are too busy living to devote their attention to others on the radio — than any host’s listenership.
So Grant was ugly and inspired hate.
So Stern popularizes the basest human instincts.
So Imus made a comment that caused some people to take offense.
So fucking what?
There is an Off switch on a radio. There is an Off switch to the Internet (you can find it on your PC!). There is an Off switch to TV. To Fox News. To CNN. To whatever the fuck gets under your holier-than-fucking-thou skin. Don’t listen. Don’t watch. Don’t read. Whatever it is that disagrees with you, avoid. It’s really that simple.
Saying such things should not exist in this country, well, that’s a sentiment that — surprise! — turns you into someone who is no better than one of those mullahs in the Middle East. Into one of those dictatorial fuckers of the Taliban.
Is that your goal?
Ayn Rand said it best: Ideas must be fought with ideas.
What’s happened to Imus is not the idea of “Gee, perhaps you went too far; would you like to apologize?” It’s the idea: We Don’t Approve. You Must Die. But The Only Way To Legally Kill You Is To Deprive You Of Income.
Keep up that shit and guess what? Someday the pendulum will swing and you’ll find your ass being targeted.
It’s all freedom or no freedom.