Don Imus, "Nappy-Headed Hos," the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, and me.
One of Imus' old albums being sold on eBay: Pretty much says it all...
***UPDATE: Since the posting of this commentary, the Associated Press has reported that CBS radio has fired Don Imus, this coming on the heels of MSNBC's suspension of their simulcast of his show. This is the triumph of political correctness at its worst, and a chilling signal to broadcasters and entertainers. Read more in next week's Bird column about the controversy, and my stand against this b.s.***
Though I'm a great admirer of Phoenix mayoral contender Rev. Jarrett Maupin, President of the AZ chapter of Al Sharpton's National Action Network, and though I do believe that despite his age he would be a vast improvement over PHX Mayor Phil "Goober" Gordon if elected, I part ways with him on the subject of political correctness. I don't care if it's the controversy over Michael "Kramer" Richards and the N-word or the suspension of geriatric shock-jock Don Imus for his off-color comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team. Back in December, I ridiculed the idea that we should ban comics from saying the N-word on stage, a form of censorship that Maupin seemed to agree with, even though he claimed he was against censorship.
"If it's not okay for Michael Richards to use that word, it's not okay for anybody to use that word," Maupin said then."It's time for us to say that word's not good for anyone to use when describing our people. And we won't allow ourselves to use it."
Personally, I don't think Richards should have apologized for using the N-word, any more than Damon Wayans or Chris Rock or Tracy Morgan or Dave Chappelle should apologize for using that racial expletive over and over and over again in their routines. Richards' primary sin was not being funny in a comedy club. If he'd been funny (admittedly a hard task for an ofay spouting that sort of slur), there would have been no controversy, since presumably blacks would've been laughing right along with everybody else. Thing is, Richards bites at stand-up. And that's why his diatribe fell as flat as a white girl's fanny.
Now here comes Don Imus, who with that hair of his, looks like he should be playing some geezer wizard in the next Harry Potter flick. Imus' schtick as a shock-jock is that he insults everybody. Anybody remember when Imus roasted then-Prez Bill Clinton at the Gridiron Club's annual hoo-ha back in '96? He sucked donkey, people. The old fart's cornered the market on being insulting without being funny. So I'm sure he felt blindsided when the furor erupted over his "nappy-headed 'hos" remark. He's probably thinking, "Jeez, haven't they noticed? This is what I do for a living!"
Well, who doesn't? A shirt being sold by romperstompertees.
Maupin's boss Al Sharpton's indignant. He wants Imus' helmet-haired head on his wall. And he practically got it while administering the verbal hot-lead enema to Imus on Sharpton's radio show. This is the kind of controversy Sharpton loves. Who even knew the guy had a radio show? With Imus on, and all the cameras rolling, his ratings for that one day must've been through the roof. Can't see Maupin bucking Sharpton on this one, even though I know Maupin listens to hip-hop, and hip-hop is quite often un-PC and raunchy. Not that I blame him. I listen to it too, and love it.
"I think it's absolutely appropriate," responded Maupin when asked of Imus being dropped from MSNBC. "I joined Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Jackson from the very beginning, saying that they needed to remove Don Imus from the airwaves. But it's not enough, we're going to have to work very hard to make sure that we clean up the American media. I in no way mean censorship. But we're going to have to make sure that we have diversity in the editorial room, diversity in the programming room. And I think that this will be the incident that gives us the justification to do so.
"But I also think, in response to what Mr. Imus has said, that there are too many rappers and people in the hip-hop community that have been giving us an excuse or a reason to use words like `nappy-headed 'hos' or "nigga' or other words like that. And I don't think we can wait on corporate America to wash our rappers' mouths with soap. That's something we must do for ourselves."
Despite his statements to the contrary, what Maupin is talking about is essentially censorship. When you ask that a comic, or a shock-jock, or a rapper be banned or boycotted because you're pissed-off by something they've said, that's censorship. Like a lot of liberals, Maupin believes in having PC codes in the entertainment industry and elsewhere, and I find that completely ludicrous and contrary to the freedom of speech we enjoy in this country. Everyone's offended by something. If we start restricting the culture based on that, there'll be nothing left but pabulum.
What do you do if you're ticked by something Imus spits into his mike? Call him a dumb cracker. That's what he is. Combat speech with speech. What should Imus have done in the wake of this controversy? I agree with Howard Stern when he said Imus should've told 'em it's an effin' joke, grow up! This apology shit is for the birds. It just further empowers those who would make themselves our PC thought-police. I'm not talking about what's said in polite society here. We're talking about entertainers, comics, MCs, and dare I say it -- columnists -- who are paid to be edgy, challenging, controversial, and sometimes, absolutely outrageous. Would you really want to live in a society, where every utterance is monitored for political correctness? I certainly don't.