Fire Imus? Fire the Rappers

Whatever a person thinks of radio shock jock Don Imus’ rude remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, any thinking individual must ponder if the public outrage over offensive remarks is applied even-handedly.

Put more bluntly: Why don’t the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson demand apologies and acts of contrition from African-American rappers who routinely say far more offensive things about women in their lyrics than “nappy-headed hos?”

And, as Imus himself noted on his radio talk show this morning, when will Sharpton and Jackson demand that the Raleigh, N.C., exotic dancer publicly apologize for falsely accusing three white lacrosse players from Duke University of rape?

Imus has paid dearly for his inappropriate behavior. MSNBC Wednesday suspended the cable TV simulcast of his radio program for two weeks, and today the CBS radio network axed the long-running show altogether.

Syndicated newspaper columnist Michelle Malkin wrote this week about the hypocrisy of the clergymen not denouncing some rappers. As Malkin notes on her Web site, she dislikes Imus but she dislikes some rappers even more. Among the many hit songs whose lyrics are noted by Malkin, this gem is from the tune, I’m A Flirt, by Bow Wow and R. Kelly.

“I’m a b pimpin
I don’t be slippin
When it come down to these hos
I don’t love ‘em
We don’t cuff ‘em
Man that’s just the way it goes
I pull up in the Phantom
All the ladies think handsome
Jewelry shining, I stay stuntin’
That’s why these niggas can’t stand ‘em
I’m a chick mag-a-net
And anything fine I’m bag-gin it
And if she got a man, I don’t care
10 toes and I wanna be, cause I gotta have it.”

As Malkin writes, “One dumb radio/television shock jock’s insult is a drop in the ocean of barbaric filth and anti-female hatred on the radio. Imus gets a two-week suspension. What kind of relief do we get from this deadening, coarsening, dehumanizing barrage from young, black rappers and their music industry enablers who have helped turn America into Tourette’s Nation?”

Before any bloggers misunderstand my point, I’m not advocating censorship of the rappers. What I am saying, however, is that self-appointed monitors of cultural acceptability ought to criticize and condemn anyone who, like Imus, veers into misogyny or makes inappropriate racial remarks — and not just go after the easy targets. Do Sharpton and Jackson not condemn certain rappers as aggressively because they know it would upset or alienate part of their political base?

The Hip Hop community is in a serious state of denial on the issue.

Snoop Dogg, a talented performer whose raps I sometimes like, offered a lame excuse to MTV. “It’s a completely different scenario,” he said. “(Rappers) are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We’re talking about hos that’s in the ‘hood that ain’t doing shit, that’s trying to get a nigga for his money. These are two separate things. First of all, we ain’t no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them muthafuckas say we in the same league as him.”

Snoop might have smoked one too many blunts. Perhaps Imus’ remarks were relevant to what he feels. Regardless, Malkin replies: “Translation — only black rappers can call women hos and bitches. Only black rappers can call black people niggas. Because it’s coming from their minds and souls.”

If, as Sharpton is quoted as saying, “this is only the beginning, we must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves,” then let’s make sure the discussion is an honest and frank one.

— Kevin Osborne

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18 Comments on “Fire Imus? Fire the Rappers”

  1. Marilyn Says:

    Kevin, I’m glad you wrote about this. I’ve loved Don Imus for a long time.

    What he said sucks and is indefensible.

    However, as a fat, white, smoker, woman, I have listened to him (more than once) talk about how he hated to pass a “gaggle of fat women, smoking”… Imus is an equal opportunity offender. We all know this.

    I hate racism and sexism. I’ve written about racism on the LOL Blog here:

    But I just wonder…

  2. Rita Says:

    The comments that Imus made was totally unacceptable. However, the reaction and the punishment merely established and reenforced an acceptability of a dual standards.

    So while Imus is terminated for his remarks, the music industry – specifically rap – is totally acceptable and profitable when it treats women as though they are nothing more then a mere f**k. Perhaps Sharpton and friends need to develop a set of balls, honesty and insight and look within themselves for their participation in reinforcing the negative destructive view of women. Hypocrisy is not acceptable.

  3. Kevin, I’m not defending the sexist language in Hip Hop but I will say that you should keep in mind that it is a handful of middle aged white men that decide what gets played on our public airwaves and on MTV. The Clear Channeling of America means that there is less diversity on the air because of payola and that there’s less than 10% minority ownership. There’s Hip Hop that is much more enlightened and political, therefore not Clear Channel friendly.

    Sharpton and Jackson have spoken about the language from rappers but it isn’t “news” because rappers don’t have syndicated shows and they aren’t powerful racist white guys. There is a different context when a rapper says “nigga”. I’m not saying I approve, but it’s different. There’s clearly a racial tone to “nappy headed hos” and he did refernce “jiggabo”. He’s a racist that interviews politicians, not a rock n rolling musician. There are different standards for rappers and artists than ther are for reporters, politicians and even for the hot air baffons of talk radio.

    Frankly, I don’t see why you’re jumping on the Sharpton and Jackson bashing bandwagon. They are right and MSNBC shouldn’t be allowed to bring Imus back just in time for sweeps. He shouldn’t be allowed to return at all. It’s a shame that you are bashing the people who are standing up against racism and sexism, at the same time it’s almost as if you think Imus is getting beat up or abused. Horse shit!

    No, rappers aren’t a part of their political base. Sharpton and Jackson actually have a lot to say on a wide range of issues but we don’t here it because of our biased, inept, lazy, lap-dog, crackerass media doesn’t find it “newsworthy”. They only cover them on issues of race. When they do cover them it’s with a negative spin. Keep up the great work!

  4. Marilyn Says:

    Is it only me that has noticed that $$ has won out?

    On Wednesday night at 10:00 while listening to 19 (fox!) news, I heard that P&G pulled their dollars from Imus and Msnbc. At that time, I realized that *gasp* money will win out!

    The next morning I got up early (for me) and saw that Imus was pulled, literally overnight. What a bunch of hipocracy…;

  5. Comparing apples to oranges.

  6. Rita Says:

    I’m sorry. I don’t believe in double standards. Words are powerful – if they are uttered by Imus or if they are said by rappers. Eliminate Imus opportunitiy to speak – elimiinate the music industry that demeans women.

  7. He was on the public airways!!!!

    The FCC acted on Janet why not Imus?

    The rappers put out their music in the private sector, don’t like it don’t buy it.

    Play it on the airways and its the company’s responsibility.

    Write to the FCC.

  8. Monica Says:

    Why should the Don Imus situation cause white folks to defend his actions and words by attempting to make a connection between what he said and Hip Hop? Why is that a relevant argument? Black folks are constantly told to police our own yet the same does not hold true for white people?

  9. citybeat Says:

    I agree with Monica (and I’m a “white folk”!) and Green Party. This kind of knee-jerk reaction is like how the Republicans, when faced with questions about their own problems, try to deflect attention by saying “But the Democrats don’t have any ideas either” or “Well, Bill Clinton did it too!”

    But I don’t think Imus should lose his career over it. It was just a joke (albeit a bad one). Boy, this seems to be the Era of the Botched Joke (John Kerry, Michael Richards, Imus, George Allen).

    Imus will land on satellite radio and be rewarded handsomely, which is probably the worst part of all of this. He’ll make waaaayyy more money at XM or Sirius. How many more people know who Imus is now, versus a week ago? He’s an awful broadcaster (how someone with that mumble of a voice ever got a job in radio is a great mystery of the world) who just got the widest PR of his career. God bless America (sarcasm)

    – breen

  10. Every Cincinnatian Says:

    We’re not quite sure why Mr. Imus is relevant. We feel his comments may clearly show some disregard, disrespect and underlying bigotry – same for the hip-hop artists you mention. We feel as if we are being treated as dolts to not recognize these explicit and transparent instances of ignorance and intolerance.

    We are more afraid of institutional or insidious bigotry. Comments and behaviors that occur everyday around us but are not readily identifiable as racist, sexist etc. Consider the following one-sentence paragraph from a March 27, 2007, column in our Enquirer by Mark Curnutte titled “More Discipline for Henry from NFL”:

    “Henry’s four arrests since December 2005 are for marijuana possession, concealed weapons, providing alcohol to minor females and DUI.”

    Note the use of the word “females”. We never knew there were separate laws regarding the provision of alchohol to minors depending on gender. In what way does the use of this term, which is irrelevant to the story, impact our perception and subconscious – remember Mr. Henry is black. Mr. Imus and Mr. Dogg were never so deceptive and dangerous. It is possible to have a good “bad example” – someone to scorn (e.g. Satan). Are the Reverends Sharpton and Jackson saving us from an actual threat to tolerance and enlightenment, or obscuring the actual threats?

  11. Marilyn Says:

    Mike, I think there was a huge difference between what Michael Richards did (pitching a stark, raving shit fit, and using racism as the tool), and what Don Imus did (trying to make his usual outragous remarks while using very stupid, regretable, and racist words).

    Doesn’t the anger behind Michael Richards make the difference clear?

    And very stupid Mel Gibson, spouting drunken anti-semitic remarks to a cop!? He was drunk and stupid, but he’s still making movies. Would it have been ok if Imus were drunk?

    I’m deeply troubled and confused by all this. At least we are dialoguing, yes?

  12. citybeat Says:

    Yeah, Richards seemed stark raving mad, but I think in his mind, he thought he was turning it into comedy. He has always been a very eccentric comedian (remember the late night show, Fridays?). Not that that is a good excuse.

    I think Imus’ personality also has something to do with this (though not as much as the advertising boycotts). Howard Stern has made far worst racial comments on his show, but people that listen to him know he’s just being stupid and perhaps ironic. It’s that “I’m so liberal, you can’t possibly believe that I really BELIEE what I’m saying.” It’s why Dave Chapelle quit his show — he didn’t feel like people were getting that he was making fun of bigots, racists and other dumb people. He felt like people were embracing it at face value.

    The atmosphere on the all-white Imus show is an old-boys club. And Imus’ cowboy hat and belt buckle, his phony cowboy image, doesn’t help. Those words spoken by an bitter, decrepit old cowboy come off a lot differently.

    Imus wasn’t drunk — he’s just dim.

    — breen

  13. John T. Sixteen Says:

    Correct. Apples and Oranges. They’re both rotten and stinking up the joint.

  14. John Fox Says:

    I think what Kevin’s original post was getting to is that it’s very difficult in these times to have absolute rules about free speech. It’s not such a black and white issue (pun intended) — there’s a lot of gray in everyday life, despite what many people on the political extremes want us to believe. But here’s what is troubling to me: Imus got fired not for what he said but because the show’s advertisers bolted. Rappers say what they say because people buy their CDs and they make a ton of money off those insulting lyrics. In the American enterprise system, people are always selling racism, sexism, homophobia and the like — unfortunately, there never seems to be a shortage of other people who want to buy it.

  15. Marilyn Says:

    Mr. Fox, the $$$ factor is what I pointed out in my post here on April 12th, 2007 at 11:09 pm (above).

    Yes it is the money that made the decision, not conscience, and I find that abysmal.

  16. […] CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog {April 16, 2007}   Freedom of Speech Last week on the Porkopolis Blog, Kevin Osborne wrote an interesting piece on the Don Imus firing and wondered if the public outrage over this type of thing is even-handed (click here to read his story). […]

  17. Emily Says:

    In regards to what Don Imus said, I do not think he should have been fired from his job because of the comment he made. One reason is the fact that rappers make derogatory comments when they sing. It’s the same thing if someone else makes an inappropriate comment. Don Imus made a harsh remark, but how is that different from a rapper using derogatory words? “ People talked about the fact that rappers have said things are equally demeaning about black women, and I find that this is problematic. I’ve always been somebody who has been critical of that kind of degration…but that comes from a space that we in the community understand and recognize. Don Imus is not. ( quoted by Darrell Dawsey) In this quote, Darrell talks about how communities recognize rappers using inappropriate language, but what is the difference of what Don Imus said?

  18. Chosen199 Says:

    Put more bluntly: Why don’t the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson demand apologies and acts of contrition from African-American rappers who routinely say far more offensive things about women in their lyrics than “nappy-headed hoes?”

    What is this?

    African-American should what!…Give me a break- The blacks need there retributions! (pay up!) Then you might get to make a stupid remark like that!

    Guys—why are we and such denial, when we have to defend other people fuck ups & we don’t put this much time & effort into are on lives!

    What we need to do is come up with solutions, not debates! The true matter is it’s always been a black & white thing if you put it up to the government! That’s why certain things like drugs where put into the black community first before, it got really out of hand. Know everyone has excuses to everything man made.

    Since everyone what’s to be so blunt!

    Black women & Hip-Hop?

    But before I start—When was the last time you open up a history book for the library?
    The media controls the air waves along with the government in we all know it! So let’s not be dumb people!
    We have to wake up in smell the coffee, if you what things to get better. So tell me dumb America? What is really demeaning? Everything if you ask me! Not just the black hip-hop crap! What you watch on TV, what you read in the news ads, the lists go on folks! Wake up!!!!!!!!!!…You telling me that everything you see around you is not demeaning then you’re just in plan dumb! You can’t even go to a gas station & not see women & a magazine showing her ass!( Black & White!)


    I agree with everyone with you have the choice just change the channel or whatever, but the next generation doesn’t have a choice because its too much to destruction already! We are the strongest nation, but where falling hard! In every other nation knows it! What we need to do as a people its fight for all mankind!


    I challenge anyone that is living paycheck to pay check!

    I’m talking to the minority as my-self. We need a solution to more then just what’s happening to a few wealthy people. We need to worry about why is the media/government is 99.9 percent of the time lying about just everything! In if you ask me. In A few years we are as a minority group are in major trouble. I challenge everyone to do allot more research for the benefits of are nation—you might learn a thing or two!

    Open your eye people!

    There are signs all around you!

    To same sex marriage to just all kind of craziness—-wake up!!!!!!!

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