Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Don Imus - Like Shooting Fish in a Biggot Barrel

Dom Imus got caught with his decency pants down. It's another example of people saying things they don't really understand, some old guy saying a catch phrase he thinks is funny. Should one of the other people on his show stopped him, said, hey, that's not cool, of course. That probably would have ended it right there. But this isn't a decency game. It's a game for profit, and MSNBC is reaping the benefits. Sure, his show is axed, sure sponsors are dropping, but when Imus is gone, the next show will have gained so much publicity from this event, it'll all be offset.

I read a publicity interview with Al Sharpton, which is a boost for his show as well. Imus and Sharpton are entertainment, not news. This is where America is now, we get our news from entertainment. Entertainment is fun. Lie to me, go ahead and lie to me. It's what we want. In the transcript for the Imus Sharpton Showdown, Don Imus criticizes black journalists and entertainers for not doing more for sickle cell anemia research. He even says, I bet I could raise more money then you (referring to Sharpton.) He tells a heart warming story about how he has a ranch and takes in kids who have cancer for a week, and cowboys it up with them, real Bonanza style, as he says. Oh, and half are minorities. Anyway, one kid has sickle cell anemia, and flew him to the hospital 120 miles away, real heart warming stuff. So, that's what makes him aware of the disease, his personal trauma over it, yet he hasn't done anything either. All he spouts off is, how much money does the government spend on sickle cell anemia research? 90 million, that's not much, and Sharpton, as a black man, should know that fact. One little gem spoken to Byron Monroe of Ebony magazine, "Let me tell you, I'll bet you I've slept in a house with more black children who were not related to me than you have." This started off a spark in the interview, which lead to lots of crosstalk.

At one point, in addressing Congresswoman Kilpatrick from Michigan, Imus says, "Oh, I do understand it. How do you assume that I don't understand it? Of course I understand that. But, I mean, you know, it's like the old country song, 'God may forgive you, but I won't. Jesus may love you, but I don't.'" Congresswoman Kilpatrick then makes a statement, almost generalizing blacks as a forgiving people. Imus responds with, "So I can't get anyplace with you people, but I can get someplace with Jesus." Now, Sharpton takes offense to this reference to "you people," however, Kilpatrick set the tone here, she was going to generalize black people as forgiving, but when Imus wants to refer to black people generally, it's racist. I'm not defending Imus, but there is an scent of differing standards at play.

I thought of a section from Richard Dawkins' book, "The God Delusion," when Imus asserted that he's just a good person who says bad things. He cited the example of taking kids suffering from cancer to his ranch as proof he's good. I think this may be a way to assert domaniance, that he is so wealthy, that he can afford to support, not only himself, and his family, but also have ten kids around at the same time. From time to time, I view the US in the same regard. They assert dominance by giving money to foreign countries. The quote from Dawkins' book follows:

"Zahavi studies Arabian babblers, little brown birds who live
in social groups and breed co-operatively. Like many small birds,
babblers give warning cries, and they also donate food to each
other. A standard Darwinian investigation of such altruistic acts
would look, first, for reciprocation and kinship relationships
among the birds. When a babbler feeds a companion, is it in
the expectation of being fed at a later date? Or is the recipient of the
favour a close genetic relative? Zahavi's interpretation is radically
unexpected. Dominant babblers assert their dominance by feeding
subordinates. To use the sort of anthropomorphic language Zahavi
delights in, the dominant bird is saying the equivalent of, 'Look
how superior I am to you, I can afford to give you food.' Or
'Look how superior I am, I can afford to make myself vulnerable to
hawks by sitting on a high branch, acting as a sentinel to warn the
rest of the flock feeding on the ground.' The observations of Zahavi
and his colleagues suggest that babblers actively compete for the
dangerous role of sentinel. And when a subordinate babbler
attempts to offer food to a dominant individual, the apparent
generosity is violently rebuffed. The essence of Zahavi's idea is that
advertisements of superiority are authenticated by their cost. Only
a genuinely superior individual can afford to advertise the fact by
means of a costly gift."

UPDATE: CBS fired Don Imus. I hope he takes his big severance check, and starts up his own show, starts marketing it, and generates more buzz then a bees nest.

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