April 15, 2007 (Please read this blog & then post your comments.)
The words spoken by aging shock jock Don Imus recently have resulted in a media firestorm that has dominated the national consciousness for almost two weeks now.
His shoot from the hip style of verbal wordsmithing, ended in his not only hitting and wounding the innocent young female athletes of the Rutgers basketball team but also ended up shooting himself in the foot as well.
The old guard leadership of the black community appropriately condemned his words and held him and CBS accountable for this injustice. Ironically women’s rights advocates largely withheld their judgment.
Don’s comments were wholly distasteful, malicious and in no way can be nor should be defended. They were directly offensive to many in the black community as well as to women in general and should be to the rest of us who are neither black nor female.
Having said all that I do believe that some worthwhile discussions have been brought to the forefront of the great national debate from this fiasco.
Justice At What Price?
1. We have seen many celebrities in the past year make prejudiced statements from Michael Richards to Mel Gibson. All indefensible, even if some were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. One question worth asking however is should a person’s career of 30-40 years be destroyed and then after sincerely apologizing to everyone he can possibly apologize to be stuck with a few ill chosen words as his/her primary legacy? If it were you in there shoes what would you say?
Celebrities: Mirrors of Society
2. The fact is that celebrities, whether on the airwaves such as Don Imus or on the silverscreen come out from within our own population and represent to some degree or another like minded constituencies or they would cease to be popular. In other words, celebrities are very much mirrors of our own (society’s) prejudices. Rather than place the entire spotlight on the person in the public eye we each need to do some serious introspection and honestly evaluate the man in our own mirror.
“Oh, the Humanity!”
3. Stereo-types and prejudice, like it or not, are part of the (fallen) human condition. I do not know of a person who does not operate from some degree of stereo types nor make at least some pre judgments about people or some aspect of life. The fact is that we all hold to a greater or lesser degree, some degree of prejudice in our life. These prejudices are often passed down verbally by our family, our culture, our society, various forms of media, or by our own human predisposition to form opinions about almost anything before we have bothered to gather the necessary facts. And even then we would have to be virtually omniscient in order to make perfect judgments about everything and everyone.
Whatever Happened to Grace & Forgiveness?
4. I believe it is one thing to point out an injustice and call someone to accountability for an offense, expect an apology and a reasonable degree of discipline. I also believe it is quite another thing to receive multiple, sincere apologies, reasonable discipline for an offense and then to keep hounding a penitent person to the point of trying to destroy them, their life, their reputation and then try to extort money from them and or the company they work for. One also has to ask what someone other than the offended
target of his words has to gain by constantly crying wolf for not hours and days but literally for weeks, If the phrase WWJD means anything it means that there is a place and a time for forgiveness.
Fair and Balanced?
5. Finally, if society is going to stand in judgment over the public words of people then it seems to me that rather than letting political correctness reign and choosing an occasional sacrificial lamb to offer to the gods of political correctness that we should seek to be consistent in meeting out justice for all public offenders from other radio & TV personalities to those in the music industry, particularly those involved in rap and hip hop where so many turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the ubiquitous usage of the “n” word, the “b” word, verbal violence against women and yes, even other races.
All that being said and done, one has to wonder outloud “can’t we all just get along.” Its has been 140 years since the end of the Civil War and 40 years since the end of the Civil Rights movement. We are one nation, whether African, Irish or Jewish Americans by heritage. Just as more and more Christians are dropping their denominational titles and bias and becoming just Christians; perhaps the day has come when we should just refer to ourselves as Americans.
Neither the racially and sexist statements made by Mr. Imus nor the grossly over exaggerated media posing and hatred mongering by certain activist leaders help our country to allow the wounds of the past to heal.
Funny how it all comes back to the words we used to say as children each morning as school began...
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, ONE NATION...UNDER GOD...INDIVISIBLE...WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE...FOR ALL.
From our lips to God's ears...let it be.