Double Standards?

posted in People on Apr 11, 2007

If you’ve had your face in a newspaper or have watched The Daily Show (or, Heaven forbid: Fox News, CNN, CBS, ABC, or MSNBC), you’ve probably heard of a little old man named Don Imus. You would normally have no idea who this guy was and you wouldn’t care, but because he said some racial comments on the radio, he’s in a gumbo of short-lived media popularity and job suspension. If you haven’t heard of him, he basically called the women’s basketball team at Rutger’s a bunch of “nappy-headed hos.” The question is not whether he’s an old, crazy bastard, that much is proven by a quick look at his photo, the question is whether his statements really were that extraordinary in a land where your average rap song can include everything – and then some – of what he said.

Michelle Malkin wrote an article that sparked my interest in this story. Normally I wouldn’t spend more than a couple of seconds processing a story about a racial slur and the media who sensationalize it, but she brings up a very good point about how this guy gets raked over the coals for his comments, yet the top six rap songs in the country are full of lyrics that are just as bad. When matters of race are involved, Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson generally are involved. I don’t have a problem with this, of course, as they have just as much right to speak as I do, but when compared to the lyrics of many rap songs, Imus’ comments aren’t that shocking. As Ms. Malkin points out, why isn’t anyone throwing a fit over these lyrics that get played over and over and over all day on the radio?

The answer to this question, of course, is a combination of ratings and the sheer fact that the comments were stupid and wrong. Had anyone tried to go up to a major news establishment with the shocking revelation that a lot of popular rap music on the radio has lyrics belittling women, the response would probably be an overwhelming: “Duh.” This isn’t news to anyone, but people generally accept it. It’s not right, and people shouldn’t accept it, but they do. It’s like saying, “High Fructose Corn Syrup is bad for you. Stop ingesting it.” Everyone knows it’s not good for you, but we’ve all accepted it, and many are probably blissfully ignorant of the fact. No news station would pick up a story like this because it wouldn’t grab the ratings that this Imus story will get. There is some legitimate news behind the story. The dummy should be brought out and he should apologize for what he said. He’s an idiot. I have no problems with this, but I know in my heart of hearts that every news station will milk this story for all it’s worth. For the next month or so we’ll hear about this stupid story (Anna Nicole, anyone?), they’ll beat it to death, and the only people who will come out better in any way are the execs of these television stations.

It’s hard to say what would be different had the roles been reversed. Had a black radio host called the Stanford team a bunch of “Vanilla-faced, cracka-ass crackas,” would there really have been such an uproar? I don’t want this post to turn into some reverse-racism bullcrap, but it’s hard to not feel like this is getting the exposure simply because of the colors involved. Whatever the case, Don Imus is still an stupid old man. I think we can all agree on that.