Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bigotry's Media Circus

So, Don Imus is an idiot.. So is Mel Gibson. And we might as well throw in Michael Richards and Isaah Washington too.

Big mouths have a tendency to say hugely stupid things – that’s an old story. The new story is that those same big mouths now spend days upon days rambling off “heartfelt” apologies. That’s how it works in modern America. These are the new rules:

1) Any and all insensitive remarks by celebrity figures are to be met with screeches of outrage from the offended group. Said group will demand a slew of serious punishments and deem the offender a person we simply can’t tolerate as a director/actor/comedian/talk show host, etc.

2) The offender will immediately acknowledge their unforgivable error and then ask for forgiveness. Acts of contrition must be performed in a public forum, preferably before an approved representative of the offended group (Al Sharpton is on call 24/7).

3) Whether or not forgiveness is offered, the whole story eventually fades away and life moves on.

I have no desire to defend, justify or otherwise condone what all these big mouths have said. But I do feel the need to question what the heck is going on in our society when off-the-cuff remarks (however distasteful) are treated like grand crimes. I have a rather old-school approach to civil liberties – one that tends to think public floggings for disapproved speech is bad for all speech.

The truth is, people say bigoted things quite often. I bet each and every one of us has at some point said something that another group would find terribly offensive. Does that make us bad people or does that just make us imperfect in an utterly human way?

Sure, bigotry is not a desirable quality and bigots should be called out for their idiocies. But there is a significant difference between a bigot and someone who simply makes a bigoted remark. I, for one, don’t want my entire character to be judged by what I might happen to say in a moment of rank stupidity.

There are better ways to address bigoted statements than to whip up anger and turn the event into a media circus. As with so much these days, we need to find a higher level of maturity.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Dennis Sanders said...

FYI:

http://neomugwump.blogspot.com/2007/04/everyones-little-bit-racist.html

11:08 PM  
Blogger Poe-etic Apathy said...

man, that was the best blog I've read on the whole Imus controversy.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Imus gets fired from CBS, this will represent the first nail in the coffin for free speech in America. If you don't like what he says, or he offends, you change the station. However offensive his comments may have been - its still his right to say the,. Just like people have the right to burn the US flag as a demonstration of free speech, so to does Imus have the right to say what he said. If the concept of free speech so traumatizes people they can move to China or Russia - true bastions of limited speech.

10:39 AM  

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