Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus In The Mourning

It somehow fits that the great author Kurt Vonnegut would pass away in the midst of the Don Imus flap. I'm not saying that the two were at all comparable. I'm saying that the "freethinking" that Vonnegut championed so well in his work took a blow.

Not Don Imus' freethinking. Our own.

We're losing that. We don't trust people to have the sense to decide for themselves what is suitable for listening, watching or reading. In our rush to stamp out anything that reeks of intolerance, we grow intolerant ourselves. No one says any more, "I disagree with what you say but I'll defend your right to say it."

Nah. Better to shout 'em down so no one hears 'em.

Please understand: I am not defending Imus' comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team. Nor do I think that MSNBC or CBS Radio should not be allowed to fire him. I am suggesting that in our zeal to topple the giant Imus statue in Baghdad Square, we may be tearing down something we won't be celebrating later.

This is not a First Amendment issue. Freedom of the press belongs to those who own presses and if MSNBC or CBS Radio don't want Don Imus on their airwaves, then they are well within their rights not to have him there. It'd be nice that if they pull the plug on Imus after major advertisers have pulled the plug on him that they don't try to tell me that there was no connection.

I don't listen to Imus. I didn't listen to Howard Stern before he fled the FCC to satellite radio. I rarely hear Rush Limbaugh. I don't listen to stations that play rappers bleating about b*tches and hos. I don't have to; my radio comes equipped with buttons that allow me to switch stations.

But I am comforted knowing that they're there. I like knowing that people can speak freely enough on public airwaves that they're going to say things I find disagreeable, distasteful and sometimes plain disgusting. I don't want to live in a world where people become so afraid of saying something offensive that they never say anything interesting.

1 comment:

A Girl From Texas said...

I think way too much has been made of Imus' comments.

He is who he is and what he said didn't seem hateful to me as much as it sounded ignorant and bigoted.