Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Imus memory hole

I guess I don't have to post a link to radio man Don Imus' "nappy-headed hos" debate. And I wish someone would slam his ignorant sidekick's remark, which I won't even repeat.

Imus doesn't shock me because I don't listen to him. He's just another provocateur, in my opinion. What did raise my dander was a call from a friend upset so many TV pundits are sympathetic to Imus.

"What's the matter with their memories? WNBC took him off the air in the '70s during the serial killings of black boys in the South. He told listeners, 'I have one thing to say about that,' and then played the song 'Another One Bites the Dust.' It was a huge controversy then! Are all his listeners too young to remember?"

WNBC fired Imus in 1977, citing problems with his cocaine and vodka habits and unprofessionalism. Why'd they take him back, and why will they keep him now? Ratings.

(Hat tip to Thought Theater for creating the picture. Its post also mentions Eric Deggans of the National Association of Black Journalists and formerly of the Asbury Park Press.)

My friend, now 52, says she was at Freehold High School, experiencing race riots in 1971 and was appalled at how Imus used Queen's lyrics, "another one gone, and another one gone, another once bites the dust; Hey, I'm gonna get you too, Another one bites the dust."

To this day, she says, she still shudders at the hellish depth of human callousness every time she hears that song.

Bigotry has a lifelong effect.

Update 1: I'm figuring my friend's date is 9 or 10 years off, because Queen didn't release "Another One Bites the Dust" until 1980. The description of the serial killings matches the string of Atlanta murders pinned on Wayne Williams that started in 1979.

Update 2: At least one other person remembers:

Un-uh. His game needs to be over. He's been saying crap like this for a good twenty years and has been skating for far too long. He was the guy who thought it was funny to play "Another One Bites the Dust" as victims of the Atlanta Child murderer were turning up. He thought it was a laff riot at his first broadcast gig to host an "Eldridge Cleaver lookalike" contest--first prize being a week in jail. (That little stunt got him canned, too.) Black folks are angry because this guy has gotten away with racism on a grand scale without consequence--and he's been able to do so because he's never paid the price. It's past time he did. --deering


Anonymous said...

The First Amendment debate has long included the notion of whether it's legal to "yell fire in a crowded theater." I think that debate is pertinent when our public airwaves are used by the likes of Ann Coulter ("We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee") and Pat Robertson ("We have the ability to take him [Hugo Chavez] out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," confirming he referred to the U.S. assassinating the democratically elected Venezuelan president).

Why does the mass media give these bigots an outlet? Their "shock" isn't based on facts and is a stretch to even be called an "opinion." All it does is push the public's moral boundaries lower and lower.

Ted said...

I remember. I lived in Highlands and there was talk of if he should go then. He was off awhile and then I thought WTF when he just came back.