Listen. Imus might suck for saying stupid things but talking only about what he said is just dumb. Imus isn’t the problem. The problem with Imus is that he said something stupid and now people want to talk about what he said, and once the media is through with him we will all pretend America is alright again. But America isn’t all right. Race and sex are still major hurtles for Americans every day.
One problem is our reaction is tailored to be completely impotent, another problem is what we are teaching people. “Watch what you say and no one will bother you,” is all we are saying. That is worthless. The problem is the racism and sexism in this country, the words are just the expression of those feelings and ideas that are very real still in America. The reality is that even if these ideas are not voiced they will continue to exist. By shutting down the conversation we are doing nothing to change the situation.
Don’t be fooled. You can shut Imus up but in doing so you haven’t done anything. By focusing only on Imus and the larger issues (race and gender in America) the media only facilitates the band-aiding of those issues and is hamstringing good honest discussion. If they really cared about the issues and not the entertainment value of what Imus said they would be discussing these issues in relation to Don Imus.
If you want to affect change in America on the issues that matter you can not just oppress the hurtful and wrongheaded ideas that people have, you have to meet them head on with a rational, thoughtful, and unemotional dialog. But until then we can just keep telling people to keep their mouths shut and walk around in willful ignorance of the challenges people face in this country based on race, class, religion, and gender.
Imus isn’t the problem, the way we deal with a person like Don Imus is.