Let me repeat. Yawn.
The Story So Far
So, Imas said something stupid. What else is new? He’s been saying stupid, offensive things for his entire career. He’s called a shock jock for a reason! However, I’m not writing this about what he said, or expressing an opinion as to whether he should be fired or not. That argument is boring. It’s going to take a little bit to get to my point, so please bear with me.
So, he said his stupid thing, and immediately there was outrage from the left. They started picketing CBS and MSNBC, going on talk shows and demanding his immediate dismissal, and intimidating political candidates into making statements about the mess. They succeeded, and he got fired.
Next came the outcry from the right in which they cited the [[First Amendment]] and freedom of speech saying that Imus shouldn’t be punished so harshly for something he said.
Dixie Chix Redux?
Remember a few years ago when one of the Dixie Chicks at a concert in France said something about being ashamed about Bush being our president? Now, we can argue whether or not that was stupid or prescient, patriotic or unpatriotic, but I’m not worried about that. That discussion is completely pointless. Why? Because whichever stance you take, it’s entirely a matter of opinion, and everyone has a right to their opinion.
What happened next is much more interesting. There was a backlash here in the [[United States]] from the right that called for boycotts of radio stations that played their music and of sponsors on those stations. This continued until their music got pulled from a lot of those stations, and their record sales plumetted.
And finally, there was an outcry from the left in which they cited the [[First Amendment]] and freedom of speech saying that the Dixie Chicks shouldn’t be punished just for expressing their views.
Reaction to the Reaction
Do you see the similarities in the stories above? Do you see the problem with both of them? The reaction to the reaction is completely wrong and downright un-American. Why? you ask? Here’s why: freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences of that speech. It means that the government won’t come knocking on your door and arrest you for something you said.
In each case above, both Imus and The Dixie Chicks got exactly what they deserved because the markets decided that’s what they deserved. In each case, enough people used their own right to free speech, and the right to assemble, and the right to petition to affect a change. There is nothing wrong with that, whether you agree with them or not.
Ultimately it comes down to this…
Lighten up people. This national outrage over some stupid words by an irrelevent, inconsequential, has-been of a radio-host is mind boggling. Yes, what he said was totally offensive, and my first reaction was that I couldn’t believe that he was stupid enough and insensitive enough to say those things. But ultimately, words have power over us only if we let them have that power. Do you think the hip-hop artists would continue to use these offensive phrases if suddenly the only reaction they got was deafening silence? Their goal is the same as Imus, to shock us. And if they can’t shock they lose their power.
Our society is losing its civility. There’s no question about that. But its our own moral indignation that’s allowing that to happen. People will always do and say stupid things, and when it rises to the level where it deserves it, we should react. But if we react to every little thing, the reactions lose their impact, and then the reactions to the reactions just escalate the stupidity.
Save the outrage for things that really matter, like what happened to the Duke lacrosse players over the last year. But that’s another article.