Some People Never Learn

I guess, my only question would be; is he gonna get “fired” this time, too?

Look, I don’t want to turn into that guy.  I don’t want to police what everyone says, and monitor every little thing for bigoted intent.  As much as I despise bigotry, I also want to be able to trust people for the intent of what they are saying, and I think we as a people are benefited when fewer not more words are stricken from the modern lexicon as indecent and inappropriate.

It may seem like a paradoxical approach, and it probably is.  As regular readers will know, I tend to really dig in when it comes to issues of bigotry, especially racial issues, but at the same time, I don’t want to be Mr. Thought Police, and every time I sit down to write a piece on racism and language or iconography, I always ask myself if I’m just going a hair too far.

But what makes Don Imus different is that, well, he should have learned his lesson on this already.  He was fired last year because he said something that wasn’t merely inappropriate, but crude and vulgar and demeaning when he referred to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as, “nappy headed hos.”

The uproar he faced was well deserved, as was his firing.  I was disappointed to hear that he was rehired, but I’m also the kind of person that thinks that if you don’t give people second chances you run the risk of being regressive as opposed to progressive in your dealings on boundaries of racial, gender-based, and homosexual descrimination and subjugation.

So, no, I wasn’t pleased when Imus got his job back, but I wasn’t the kind of person to make a fuss.

Then he goes and does it all over again.

Regarding professional football player Adam Jones, in answer to a list of legal problems the cornerback was having, the following exchange occurs:

Imus asks: “What color is he?”

“He’s African-American,” the host is informed by one of his on-air sidekicks.

“Well, there you go,” Imus said. “Now we know.”

Since the Politico broke the story, Imus has come back to explain that it was a misunderstading, and that the intent of his comment was not to imply that it makes sense that a black man would have legal issues, but instead that he was getting picked on because he was black.

I would be willing to buy that argument, I suppose, maybe, if I didn’t listen to a longer sound clip that sort of makes such an explanation a little difficult to believe.  Extended transcript (note, I do not know the name of the other speaker, so for the sake of brevity he will be referred to as X):

x: Defensive back, Adam “Pacman” Jones, recently signed by the Cowboys.  Here’s a guy suspended all of 2007, following a shooting at a Vegas night club.

Imus: Well, stuff happens.  You’re in a nightclub for God’s sake, what do you think’s gonna happen at a nightclub?  People are drinkin’ and doin’ drugs.  There are women there and people have guns so there go ‘head.

x: He’s also… He’s been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005

Imus: What color is he?

X: He’s African American

Imus: (garbled chuckle) Okay there ya go.  Now we know.

x: Well, he wants to drop his nickname, “Pacman,” because he says there’s too much negativity tied to it.  I mean like… People aren’t going to know who he is if he drops his nickname.  Who’s that… Who’s that new player… Oh that’s Adam Jones.

Imus: Well how bout

x: How about Adam “Dickhead” Jones.

Imus: How about that?

(laughter)

It might lose something in the transcription, I admit.  But my guess is that A) the “Dickhead” comment B) the assoiated tones, and C) the laughter at the end, all come together to sort of throw into question the idea that Imus was there to, you know, make the case that Jones was just getting picked on because he was black.

I’m just a little skeptical here.

But I leave it to you to interpret how you please.  Click on the link, listen to the audio, it becomes very difficult after listening to it to pick out the intent that Jones was being picked on.  Of course, Imus could have saved himself the inevitable firestorm coming his way by just saying, “They’re picking on him because he’s black.”

Better yet, he would have done infinitely better by not asking what color the guy was at all.

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