Monday, April 16, 2007

What'd you call me?

When my son was about six, he was playing in the neighborhood pool while I lounged about with a book, blissfully in full denial of what the sun was doing to my poor face. There was an older boy, perhaps 10, who was trying to entice my son away from the wall (my boy was not the best swimmer at age 6) so he could dunk and/or splash him. "No," my son said, "you are just trying to humiliate me."

"What'd you call me?" the older boy shouted back.

What we say may not be what people hear and what people hear may not be what we said.

This is my last foray into the Imus situation.

Time magazine this week had an excellent article on the subject of who can say what and the wonderfully brilliant writers for that magazine don't need my sloppy help in presenting the kaleidoscope of angles found within this topic.

But I did want to say something. I've been hearing all sorts of comparisons - that rappers and comedians use the same sort of language and get a free pass, but let an old white dude say it and he gets fired.

Sort of.

It isn't exactly like that. Now, right off the bat, let me say that denigrating a race or a group of people in any capacity is wrong. But it's going to happen. I've listened to enough "dumb Southerner" jokes in my life to understand that. And people should speak out against the casual use of hateful words.

But. Rappers and comedians are generally speaking of a non-specific person. They are usually speaking of a fictitious person or persons.

Imus singled out very specific, very real women. Women who are the exact opposite of what the most racist among us hold out as the stereotype. These are accomplished, hard working, educated young women.

That is what doomed Imus, once the team had its press conference and the nation saw that these fine young women had had all they worked for, all they accomplished, all they strived to become, all that was brushed aside by Imus with a few words that reduced them to nothing but their skin color and gender, there was no wiggle room.

Telling redneck jokes is wrong, not hiring someone with a Southern accent because you think Southerners are stupid is more wrong.

Telling jokes about Jews is wrong, not allowing a Jewish person to join your club is more wrong.

Telling jokes about gays is wrong, denying a gay couple the opportunity to rent an apartment is more wrong.

I only hope that what happened to Imus isn't swept under a rug and forgotten about.

I only hope that next time Anne Coulter implies the "F" word, she is fired.

I hope next time Rosie O'Donnell does an insulting impersonation, she is fired.

I hope next time Bill O'Reilly calls a child a willing participant in his own molestation, he is fired.

I hope next time Nancy Grace declares innocent men guilty, she is fired.

I hope that the days of officially sanctioned hatred via "news organizations" broadcasting their employees' vile words into our homes is over.

Loki sez: It drives me to the nip, all this meanness.

1 comment:

Marcheline said...

The thing I can't get straight in my mind is this...

Telling jokes about Jewish people is wrong. But is a Jewish comedian telling jokes about Jewish people wrong?

Telling jokes about Southern people is wrong. But what about Jeff Foxworthy?

What is it about being part of the group in question that makes the jokes okay? The audience is still outside of that group, and they're laughing, so what is the difference in the end?

I'm not sure. Still working on that. I may have to blog about this topic myself, now that you've got my brain going on it...

- M