Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Are talk show hosts bullies ??

This time around Don Imus has ended with his foot in his mouth. Not the first time and I'm sure would not be the last time other.

Why would anyone in their right mind while commenting on a college basketball match make derogatory racist and sexist remarks about the team ? Is there really an audience for that kind of stuff ? Does it help with ratings ? Does tagging a team with a racial, sexist epithet help in anyway with describing how they are playing or what they have achieved ?

One reason I can think of is that guys like Imus are bullies. They like the feeling of power and control they get from their ability to call people names and get away with it. And like any other bully their pleasure is greater when the other party is weak or is perceived to lack the ability to hit back. I am sure Imus would not have made such remarks about Condi Rice or Al Sharpton or any other powerful people. Hitting out at defenseless 18/19 year olds would have given him his kicks for the day.

My detractors would say that African American rapsters are getting away with using those terms. I agree. Their actions are deplorable too and may have contributed to some of those epithets becoming "mainstream" and being picked up by non-African American commentators. I do hope that African American Leadership would try to end the denigration of women in the current rap culture. Self respect is an essential prerequisite for getting respect from others. And by demeaning a large section of the community (women) they are demeaning the entire community.

However, two wrongs do not make a right. Use of these epithets by rapsters does not in anyway condone their use by the mainstream media. Nobody in their right mind - whether from the majority community or from the minority goes about calling people names. Courtesy and Civility are hallmarks of American social customs and traditions. Public use of these terms is an aberrant behavior which society needs to correct.

Another aspect sure to be raised is about "Freedom of Speech". I respect Imus' right to speak whatever he wants. But am reminded of the age old adage "your freedom ends where my nose begins". Freedom of speech was never intended to be an unbridled right to pillory people. Though Imus might win in a court of law, he is slowly losing ground in the court of public opinion. More importantly he may lose out in the "court of the marketplace" as advertisers pull support from his program. That's what I like about America - Market forces prevail !!!


Speedmaster said...

Well said on all counts Deepak.

Deepak Seth said...

Thanks !!

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