What would Imus say about Virginia Tech?
A week ago the biggest story in the United States was the firing of Don Imus as a radio and television commentator and clown.Then a crazed Korean student (who grew up mostly in this country and got cozy with our national schizophrenia), holding on hard to a serious identity crisis and a couple of guns, went to work on a small campus in Virginia. The nation’s eyes glazed over momentarily, refocused on mayhem in the classroom and the Imus story retreated to the back pages.But I’d like to return to it for a moment, partly because I didn’t get a chance at it a week ago due to deadline realities, but also because I don’t know that there’s anything I can say about the situation at Virginia Tech that would make a lot of sense right now.I can almost read the minds of some readers who are asking, “What the hell has the one got to do with the other, besides the fact that both incidents have made headlines lately? And what the hell is the matter with this pathetic scribe, that he should link two such disparate media moments in the first place, when we’re all still raw from witnessing such an irrational and murderous morning?”I’ve got answers to both those questions.To start with, I didn’t listen to Imus much, and watched him even less. I’m a bit of a news junkie, and I don’t need my fix on the day’s events to be filtered through the deliberately insulting, demeaning and misleading mind of a man who revels in his “shock jock” status and who must work hard to maintain that status every day.But on the occasions when I did catch his act, I was appreciative. His ego made it laughable, but his technique – using a mix of celebrities, politicians and working-class heroes as foils for his wit and wisdom – made it interesting.So, what is there that connects Imus to the shootings in Virginia, beyond the headlines and the timing?Just this: I’d like to hear what Imus would have to say about what happened at that school, his jaundiced, nonpolitically correct take on the event itself, the school’s role as an institution and the underlying social contributors to the murderous proceedings.But I can’t because a ruthless cabal of politically correct black journalists led a pack of opportunistic social and cultural vultures-at-large in calling for Imus’ head, despite the fact that he’d been saying the same kind of thing and worse for decades. Until this month, Imus’ blather had all been taken for what it was – entertainment with sociopolitical overtones, no worse than conversations on street corners all over the country or the lyrics of rappers making billions off their nasty utterances.A Pew poll, as reported on an Internet site, has found that some 54 percent of Americans feel Imus deserved to get kicked off the airwaves, while about 34 percent think the punishment did not fit the “crime.” The rest think he got away easy, possibly indicating a secret desire to bring back public stocks, open-air floggings or worse into our social web.But I also note that there is a website calling for Imus fans and others who think his dismissal was not the way things should have been handled, to rise up and demand that he be reinstated. It’s at http://www.supportimus.org for those who are interested.I don’t think Imus should have been kicked off the air, because I believe we need his kind, ranting and raving endlessly, poking fun at the power brokers and the elite, throwing our national bigotry and love of racist and ethnic slurs and jokes right back in our faces.For much the same reasons, I loved what Hunter Thompson was doing in the last years of his life. His creative well seemed to have run dry as far as new books went, but he continued to provide us with scathingly accurate (most of the time) and hilariously pointed commentary on the foibles of our times.I suppose friends of either might be outraged that I mention the two men in the same breath, but that’s one of the joys of our insistence on free speech here in the U.S. of A. I can say pretty much whatever I want, about whomever I want, and no one can stop me.Isn’t that how this is supposed to work?John Colson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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