Like just about every other major issue facing America, I am -- apparently -- the only resident of the U.S. turf that is conflicted on the issue of Don Imus.
This morning I'm watching the usual suspects claiming victory after CBS fired the longtime broadcaster yesterday for calling the Rutgers women's basketball team, well, you know what he called the women's basketball team.
CBS, apparently woke up, and realized at some point -- probably around the time Imus' advertisers were jumping ship -- that they were shocked -- shocked -- that Imus apparently offends people.
There is no point in discussing whether Imus' comments were offensive. They were. Case and argument closed.
My discomfort, however, has to do with how we react and what we demand from the offensive in our society. And it is here that I am conflicted. I don't think the offensive among us should continue to be offensive, especially if they have a following of idiots, all willing to join the Sacred Army of the Offensive.
But I don't necessarily think they should be muzzled either. And that's the kneejerk reaction, muzzle them. A few months ago, a former NBA basketball player said he hated gay people. The reaction was swift and predictable, until -- days later -- the former player said he was sorry and apologized, leaving those of us who aren't keeping score to ask, "what are you apologizing for?"
In these situations, it's the one question the media doesn't immediately ask, which is too bad because it's the only answer that really matters. Are you apologizing for saying, in the above example, that you hate gay people. Or are you apologizing because you hate gay people?
I have always thought that racism is weakest when it's exposed. And it is at its most powerful when it goes underground.
I fear that we in the name of exposing racism and sexism, we are giving it a power it does not deserve, and I have no clue what to do about that.
An interview with Tom Berge
7 months ago