Imus Not The Only Poor-Taste Profiteer

Say this much for Don Imus, that crappy-headed foe of all things politically correct. This was nothing new. He’s also made a career out of crudely railing against polite society in general.

There’s obviously a viable market for low-brow mockery as humor, and he long had the advertisers, the listeners, the ratings, the simulcasts and the bank account to prove it. That “nappy-headed ho’s” insult that was directed at the Rutgers’ women’s basketball team was merely the most recent example. Recall his skewering caricatures of Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell as “the guy from F-Troop,” the New York Knicks as “chest-thumping pimps” and presidential candidate and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as a “fat sissy.” And of course gays, Jews and Muslims were never out of season.

And now his 35-year career is over – the ultimate societal off button.

Imus never purported to be other than what he was: a cranky, propriety-challenged, sick-humorist/entertainer/commentator who knew that an anything-for-a-cheap-laugh credo would reward him handsomely.

Imus was all about being outlandish. It’s hardly unprecedented. His was an affront shtick that succeeded in a marketplace that has also underwritten sophomoric, scatological shock jocks such as Howard Stern and all manner of thuggish, misogynistic rap performers.

Imus, however, wasn’t on some hateful, racist rant that day when he uttered his offensive Rutgers’ ad lib. It was vintage, poor-taste banter, the stuff most First Amendment types typically go to the rhetorical mattresses over. Rickles on ‘roids, if you will. Ironically, Imus was, in fact, trafficking in the unflattering racial parlance introduced to the mainstream culture by a generation of black rappers.

Were he merely David Duke with a wisecracker manner, he would never have attracted a steady, diverse stream of image-conscious, A-list politicians and journalists queuing up to be on his program. They, of course, pragmatically and hypocritically backed off because of the firestorm of negative publicity – not the inflammatory comments, per se, which had been his modus operandi forever.

So Imus, 66, publicly apologized, made the requisite mea culpa rounds, humbled himself in front of race opportunist Al Sharpton, took sponsor hits, lost his MSNBC simulcast and hoped against hope that CBS Radio would let him off with just a two-week, unpaid placation.

Too bad the upshot of this Imess isn’t a lot more than a high-profile firing and overwrought moral outrage. Too bad it doesn’t include a meaningful national conversation about all those who truly coarsen and pollute the culture. Too bad it doesn’t include all those who don’t care about “the effect language like this has on young people,” to quote CBS president Les Moonves.

So, let’s see how many rappers are moved to a societal apology now that it’s been duly noted by Rutgers’ head coach Vivian Stringer that derogatory, demeaning language aimed at young black women — whatever the context –is “deplorable,” “despicable,” “abominable,” “unconscionable” and “evil.”

BET, you’re on the clock. Ludacris, operators are standing by. 50-Cent, we’re waiting.

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