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April 16, 2007

Imus=Jesus. Or is it Socrates? Nah, Joan of Arc.

Kinky Friedman on his friend Don Imus:

Take heart, Imus. You're merely joining a long and legendary laundry list of individuals who were summarily sacrificed in the name of society's sanctimonious soul: Socrates, Jesus, Galileo, Joan of Arc, Mozart and Mark Twain.

April 16, 2007 | Permalink


It is unfortunate that he didn't point to H.L. Mencken whose "sacrifice in the name of society's sanctimonious soul" is most analagous.
One thing that many left-wing bloggers don't realize is that there are many Imus supporters who are traditionally democratic voters such as myself (I am 59 and have never voted Republican) who are outraged by the nature of the public lynching of Don Imus. They have been silent because the only response to them when they speak is name-calling. I posted some not unfavorable comments on Imus on one such blog comment section and was publicly pilloried--worse than at any time in my life.
I suspect that Don Imus will arise (from the dead) in the fall and, for some, there will be hell that some will pay.

Posted by: PaulD | Apr 16, 2007 10:33:33 AM

It should be said that I really don't care if Imus's audience is 150% liberal. What the guy said was disgusting and he deserved his punishment. This wasn't for political gain, it's because society should have certain standards.

Posted by: Ezra | Apr 16, 2007 10:42:48 AM

PaulD, isn't the logical conclusion from people had there been no outrage over Imus, "Liberals are hypocrites. Imus says racist things all the time, but because he supported John Kerry, liberals give him a pass." ?

I fail to see why anyone would be outraged about Imus losing his job. I'd certainly lose my job if I said something like that. The fact that Imus had such a bad track record yet still had a revolving coterie of prominent politicians supplicating him regularly makes it even worse.

Posted by: Tyro | Apr 16, 2007 10:53:38 AM

Firing the racist gasbag was the right decision; but everybody knows he's just going to be on satellite radio in 30 seconds so it's not a huge deal.

Posted by: Wells. | Apr 16, 2007 10:55:03 AM

Oh, please. He isn't a martyr. He's a talk show host who tickled more people than he pissed off by a bare margin for a long time. When the scales tipped and the sponsors took off, he lost his job. If he was such a free speech advocate, why did he apologize? And why only when his head was on a chopping block? He wasn't sorry that he made a throwaway insult to young women who never did anything bad that we know about, he was sorry something bad happened to him. When you sell a show, and you piss off the customers and sponsors, you lose your job. No martyrdom required.

Posted by: ciocia | Apr 16, 2007 10:56:26 AM

Funny, I thought Mark Twain made quite a good living out of his [justified] cynicism, and died a natural death at the age of 75. Mozart may have died young, but he sure wasn't unpopular, and Salieri didn't kill him. Kinky may be amusing (I read his "mysteries" with some pleasure), but he sure ain't no historian...

Posted by: theophylact | Apr 16, 2007 10:57:12 AM

Imus=Jesus? I think "God's Other Son" was not autobiographical.

Posted by: Allen Knutson | Apr 16, 2007 10:58:04 AM

Has anyone before Kinky Friedman ever uttered or written the phrase "legendary laundry list"? Don't the two adjectives connote almost exactly opposite things? God, what a terrible writer.

And PaulD, why don't you tell us on what grounds you'd defend Imus. Are you defending the specific remarks that caused outrage, or the value of his general schtick despite those remarks, or his larger contribution to public discourse despite his offensive schtick, or his charitable work despite his media work -- or what? Don't go issuing vague threats against people who disagree with you without at least giving us a chance to disagree with you.

Posted by: Ryan | Apr 16, 2007 11:03:33 AM

First of all, I am not outraged at Don Imus losing his job. I supspect that Don himself is now proud of becoming dis-associated with those (NBC, CBS, and individuals) who have hung him out to dry in the way they did.
What I am outraged is the character of the public lynching--and especially the role of all of those who have profited immensely from Imus' program over the years, but stood quietly by.
I read Bob Herbert today at the NYT calling Imus a misogynist. This is nonsense. Has anyone observed the partnership Don has with his wife Deirde as they focus on some of the most important issues of our time--environment activism, etc.? Interestingly enough, Don referred to his wife as a "green ho." Was he insulting her? For Imus, when he said the statement, I suspect he was referring to hoes as "tough women." And nappy-headed was more like "unshamedly African American." And the tatoo piece was: not just tough, but real tough. Stupid to the extreme because of who they were directed at, but not racist or sexist in intent. And if you saw the Rutgers women (as I did) in their run in the NCAA tournament, they were indeed very tough, almost fanatically competitive women. On the court, they looked nothing like they did at the press conference.
I come back to a major point: Don will end up on his feet, but there will be hell to pay for some liberals on this--the gross hypocritical ones.

Posted by: PaulD | Apr 16, 2007 11:06:29 AM

Hang on a minute. In what way were Joan of Arc and Mozart "summarily sacrificed in the name of society's sanctimonious soul"? Joan of Arc was killed because the English really didn't like her (can't imagine why), and Mozart either fell ill or was poisoned by a rival.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Apr 16, 2007 11:10:07 AM

Well PaulD,

firstly, your use of the word 'lynching' in this context is ironic at best. Secondly, what do you think should have happened? I hope you don't find "Nappy Headed Ho" acceptable, but at the least you seem to think it distasteful rather than unacceptable. It's unacceptable to a lot of people and we're trying to make sure its unacceptable for everyone.

Posted by: Sandals | Apr 16, 2007 11:11:54 AM

The only hypocritical liberals in this whole Imus debacle are the ones who willingly appeared on his show and have praised him.

As I said, liberals would have opened themselves up to hypocrisy by not calling him out on this.

And besides, PaulD, why wouldn't CBS and NBC have hung Imus out to dry? Executives at those two corporations have plenty of African-American and female employees who would not have tolerated seeing their employers leap to Imus's defense.

Posted by: Tyro | Apr 16, 2007 11:16:54 AM



i question how you justify 'cleaning lady' or 'beanie headed jewboy'.

Posted by: Sandals | Apr 16, 2007 11:17:44 AM

I come back to a major point: Don will end up on his feet, but there will be hell to pay for some liberals on this--the gross hypocritical ones.

There is so much about your comment that is absurd, but what's really fascinating is your focus upon revenge against people. It's clear that you consider Imus to be some poor persecuted man, and if your prophecies of doom against Democrats come to pass, you will see that as justice. How weird.

Your defense of Imus is interesting as well, making "nappy-headed hos" into a compliment. A compliment! I should say interesting, but hardly original, as white men have been employing that defense for their use of all sorts of insults over the years.

It's true that Democrats have stood by and done nothing because of Imus for years. If you've been paying attention, they've also received criticism. Unfortunately, these politicians can't be punished just by writing to a some corporations. However, as the Democratic party's activists become more organized, our politicians will be held to account for enabling hatemongers like Imus to exercise the inordinate amount of influence they've had for years now.

If it will make you feel better, I could call you some names so that you will also be a martyr just like poor, put-upon Mr. Imus. But that wouldn't make your arguments any less specious.

Posted by: Stephen | Apr 16, 2007 11:20:03 AM

Apparently I missed the part where Jeanne D'Arc said "That's right, ya fat English bastards, come and get me!" or when Mozart said "Listen Salieri, you prissy gasbag, shut the fuck up." I suppose, though, it could have happened that way. ;)

Paul D, acknowledging that there's plenty of gassy righteousness to go around, what Imus said was just not appropriate. There's not a lot of ways around that.

And, just in case no one else has noticed: with the proposed merger of Sirius and XM causing enough trouble for both of them, do not assume they will touch Imus with a ten foot pole. The "Imus will jump to satellite" notion is mostly assuming that the same business conditions exist as when Stern signed, and they don't.

Posted by: weboy | Apr 16, 2007 11:29:20 AM

"public lynching." Not only in bad taste, a kind of funny pleonasm.

My favorite bit of PaulD: "Imus will come back from the dead. Quondam et futurus asshole!"

Posted by: Karl Steel | Apr 16, 2007 11:42:51 AM

Theophylact, I suspect the reference to Mozart and Twain involves censorship, not being killed.

Paul, you acknowledge far less that Imus has. He has admitted that what he said was very wrong. I agree with Sharpton in one important respect. He said he wasn't going to look into Imus' soul and call him a bigot. He said Imus should be fired for what he did, not for being a bad person. Whether Imus is a misogynist is doubtful to me, but what he said is misogynist. (Whether firing is the best approach in these matters is a fair question, but some strong sanction is in order, and not just for Imus.)

Posted by: Sanpete | Apr 16, 2007 12:01:21 PM

Just to help forestall the development of another persecution complex, I've been trying to come up with a way to defend PaulD. It's hard.

As far I can see PaulD's argument in Imus's defense is that his remarks in this specific instance were meant to express respect for the Rutgers team's toughness as athletic competitors. I actually think that probably *is* what Imus meant to do, since that was how the dialogue began. But it seems impossible to escape the fact that he expressed that respect *extremely* grudgingly, to the point where he felt compelled to insult them even as he praised them and thus completely undercut the praise. There's just no way a reasonable person on the receiving end of those remarks would *not* be insulted. He (along with hs sidekicks, for whom he must take responsibility)referred to them by a slang word for prostitutes, generalized (incorrectly) about their race and physical appearance (contrasting them with their "cute" opponents) and said they looked more like men than women. To any reasonable listener these are straight-up insults.

The only possible defense I can imagine (and one that PaulD seems to be hinting at) is that this was all irony. 'He calls his wife a 'ho' too! Obviously he doesn't mean it!' Well, it's not obvious. The guy is not Stephen Colbert. When you make a career of tossing gratuitous insults with a straight face and flat inflection, particularly at people of color and women, there comes a point where people suspect you actually mean them. Imus made his bed and now he's lying in it. And to me it's telling that nowhere in his public self-defenses (that I've seen) has he even *claimed* that he was being ironic or just playing a part. He's just argued that his charitable good works, and his good relationship with Harold Ford, should earn him a free pass or something.

Bottom line: He's an entertainer who misjudged his audience. He reached outside the usual circle of people who've become inured to his schtick and insulted a group of people who did absolutely nothing to deserve it. He pissed off enough of his audience that his sponsors decided he could no longer bring in the bucks. That was always their prerogative.

And PaulD, of course lots of pundits, former enablers of Imus, are sticking the shiv in now. If you're just getting mad now at the fecklessness of centrist punditry (and please, don't call them liberals), then you're very late to the party.

Posted by: Ryan | Apr 16, 2007 12:14:33 PM

I agree with Sanpete, while Sharpton is clearly a tool, and those in the media who make him a central figure any time someone is accused of/caught being a loud public racist should really knock it off, his comments in this particular case seem quite reasonable and apt.

PaulD, should radio and TV stations feel a sense of obligation to employ those who make racist remarks on the air? If not, what the hell are you saying?

Posted by: djw | Apr 16, 2007 12:16:09 PM

I watched almost non-stop on cable the story developing last week. As I have said, my problem was with the way this was handled, not with the end result (NBC and CBS had no choice). But as I watched and listened, it had all the feel of a public lynching. I thought: is it a sign of progress in our society when we replace white-led lynch mobs with black-led lynch models? And, yes, I am indeed aware of the irony.
There is an interesting post on Mark Cuban's blog about implications for where Imus might end up. It is unlikely that he will work for a publicly owned corporation (even if he indeed does, as I expect, modify his act to some extent). But with the privately owned boom, etc., I don't think that poses problems.
Even Imus himself has acknowledged that what he said was repugnant, etc. The issue is repercussions.
I come back to the issue of all of those individuals (who sell books) and companies and the extent to which he has contributed to their bottom lines. I find the response of most of them in all of this indefensible. I have much more respect for Oliphant, Friedman, etc. and the few others who have responded more calmly and, in my opinion, more responsibly--without excusing Imus's statement.
By the way, I a very familiar with the statements with respect to Kurtz, Ifill, Rhoden, etc. that have been dredged up. What I find interesting, though, is that given that he broadcasts from 15-20 hours per week, how few there are-- and how few of recent vintage. The Page pledge of the early 00's did, actually, have a positive impact, I think
There are a lot of silent Imus supporters out there who, I suspect, are seething over the way this has been handled. They will delight in Kinky's defense of him.

Posted by: PaulD | Apr 16, 2007 12:17:19 PM

PaulD--that "I'm a lifelong Democrat" bullshit is so over. You haven't supported a Democrat since the Civil Rights Movememnt, if not Reconstruction.

Posted by: calling all toasters | Apr 16, 2007 12:17:39 PM

Am I missing something, or is The New York Post now some outpost of reason, fairness and decency? Or is it, as I've thought, the voice of those who are only fulfilled in life if some person or group is targeted daily as being worthy of derision because they don't share a know-nothing view of society and its minorities? Kinky Friedman as a voice to lead us from error? Yeah, right.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 16, 2007 12:22:28 PM

I simply do not understand how anyone can conceptualize Imus's firing as an outrageous 'public lynching.' He said something that a lot of people found objectionable, and reasonably so. They put pressure on his employer and his advertisers. They decided continuing to employ Imus wasn't worth it.

Some conservatives are in the process of trying to accomplish the same result with Rosie O'Donnell, who apparently made some remarks sympathetic to the 9/11 conspiracy theorists. I imagine there will be very few references to Rosie's 'lynching' if they manage to succeed, even though her comments were much less offensive.

It seems like a lot of white men view it as their birthright to make offensive remarks, and expect everyone to be up in arms over a multi-millionaire losing his job.

Posted by: Jason | Apr 16, 2007 12:25:13 PM

Even Imus himself has acknowledged that what he said was repugnant

This once. I don't recall an apology for calling Howard Kurtz a "jewboy."

As for Kinky Friedman, whom you respect: no wonder he's defended Imus. He's a racist too.

What I find interesting, though, is that given that he broadcasts from 15-20 hours per week, how few there are-- and how few of recent vintage

No kidding. Whereas Terry Gross and Garrison Keiler: they pop out with racist things all the time. Here's my policy on racist statements. Zero. I never say shit like that; why should I let anyone else get away with it? If Imus wants to be racist someplace, let him start a blog or podcast. No one's censoring him.

But as I watched and listened, it had all the feel of a public lynching.

Except without the murder part.

I wasn't aware that a millionaire with the ear of the most powerful people in the country could be likened to several thousands of poor blacks without acrobatics: for that you earn a gold puppy.

You want to try out a Holocaust analogy on us?

Posted by: Karl Steel | Apr 16, 2007 12:26:40 PM

And, Paul, I tried to prod you gently with the pleonasm joke. Let's be a bit more blunt. Only a logorrhoeic dofus would affix "public" to "lynching." A lynching is by its very nature public, don't you think.

And of course it's friggin public. The guy's a media fixture who commonly had all the DC punditocracy, Leiberman, Kerry, &c. on. Why should his downfall be private?

I simply don't understand what you're getting at.

What is it you want? On what grounds are you defending the jewboy comment?

Posted by: Karl Steel | Apr 16, 2007 12:32:46 PM

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