While watching Keith Olbermann read (and re-read, and re-re-read) Don Imus’ pink slip on MSNBC tonight, it was obvious there is a larger agenda at work.
Imus has been abusing people and calling it comedy for decades. To the right is the cover of a 1974 Imus comedy album on the Bang label. It’s number 407 in the catalog.
I first detected the new mood last week, as Al Sharpton repeated the phrase "public airwaves" like it was on a talking point from central office. This was reinforced by Olbermann, tonight, bringing up examples from other hosts — the road company from "Worst Person in the World" — of racist, sexist, and eliminationist rhetoric. Then he and Jesse Jackson hammered the point home — these folks are just as bad, and the campaign will now be expanded to get rid of them as well.
It’s all about decency. Decency of thought, decency of word, decency of action. The public airwaves must have decency.
Trouble is these aren’t the public airwaves. We’re talking here of cable networks, not broadcast networks. Besides, the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated 20 years ago.
What can be done? Jackson was frank about it. Pressure the advertisers. Boycott, if necessary. It’s a tactic which has not worked for the Left in over 40 years (although conservatives have used it for much of that time against speech they didn’t like) and thus we have a real turning point.
If you can now get rid of Imus, can you get rid of the rest of them? And
if you can get rid of the rest of them, what is the standard of speech
we expect, that we demand, on our "public airwaves?" Note that by using
the phrase "public airwaves" Jackson, Sharpton and Olbermann sidestep
any First Amendment concerns. Imus can say what he wants on his New
Mexico ranch, he just can’t get paid for doing it on the "public
I know this will be plenty controversial. I watched with amusement earlier today as literally hundreds of users came in from shaidle.blogmatrix.com, a right-wing blog which had "fisked"
my earlier Imus piece. By this I mean the author called me names,
heaped abuse on me — basically treated my person and my work the way
Imus had the Rutgers basketball team. I don’t really mind. I’m not a
public figure under the law, but in my journalism I have always treated
myself as such, meaning my words are fair game.
The Shaidle post proves that some on the right understand what the game is here,
and they’re spitting mad about it. But notice which side is using the
nasty language, which side is defending "shock talk." It’s not, as it
was 40 years ago, acid rockers wanting to keep it real. It’s
right-wingers claiming an absolute right to abuse others in the name of
their "freedom." Talk radio as the new rock and roll.
Again, remember the 1967 Game, our extension to the 1966 game. These people (and I explicitly include Shaidle among them) are
acting just like the hippies did 40 years ago. They are causing their
own rejection, their own political destruction, through their violent
rhetoric, through their threats, through their rejection of societal
norms in the name of "rights."
The truth is, it’s like smoking. Your rights end at my nose. Rights must be mutually recognized, or you’re just talking oppression.
It’s fun to watch. Shaidle told one lie in that post about me. I’m
too young to have been a hippie back then. I’m on the side of The Man.
Always have been.
And you Haties, you ain’t The Man no more. The patchouli is on the other foot.