Speak No EvilAs you may have noticed I've remained mum on the subject of Don Imus' racist and sexist remarks aimed at the Rutgers Women's Basketball team. I don't need to rehash the incident, what was said, or the team's response here. I assume you've all seen the news and the reports ad nauseum on the subject. His remarks have landed Mr. Imus out of a job having been dropped from both CBS radio and MSNBC.
While I applaud these major news outlets for taking a stand, I can't help but wonder if their decisions are based on true anti-hate speech principles or the loss of sponsorships for Mr. Imus' show. Call me cynical, but as a gay American who has to filter out homophobic remarks from the media on a daily basis even from some of my favorite programs (See red7Eric's comment on yesterday's post), the swift and immediate response to Imus' remarks have left me scratching my head. Why start having principles now? Why over these particular remarks? Why Don Imus?
Don't get me wrong, I think what Imus said was despicable, inexcusable and a painful reminder that no matter how much women or minorities achieve they are still reduced to the basest name-calling and insults by old, white men. But what's different this time? It's been a bad year for hate speech, so is Don Imus simply a victim of bad timing? Why the call from the black community (and others) for the immediate dismissal of Mr. Imus from his media outlets, yet when Isaiah Washington uses an ugly gay epithet he is not only allowed to keep his job on one of the top rated TV shows, he is then awarded an NAACP Image award of all things!
I guess I was waiting to hear the whole Imus debacle discussed from a gay point of view before I commented. Surely I'm not the only one to be confused and disappointed by the duplicitous behavior on the part of the American public and the media over this particular hate speech. Thankfully, leave it to Harvey Fierstein in today's New York Times Op Ed piece to sum up not only his own feelings on the subject in a most eloquent and succinct manner, but mine as well. Here's a quote:
The real point is that you cannot harbor malice toward others and then cry foul when someone displays intolerance against you. Prejudice tolerated is intolerance encouraged. Rise up in righteousness when you witness the words and deeds of hate, but only if you are willing to rise up against them all, including your own. Otherwise suffer the slings and arrows of disrespect silently.