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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Shock-jock crosses the line

The circus shocks me. Marilyn Manson shocks me. Racism, on the other hand, offends me. On April 12, CBS pulled the plug on longtime radio host Don Imus for referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team, runner-up in this year’s NCAA tournament, as “Nappy-headed hos” a week earlier. Imus was fired, not solely based on his racist humor, but also because many of CBS’ sponsors dropped and scheduled guests refused to go on his show.

Then he apologized – not immediately to the women he offended – but first to Reverend Al Sharpton. He later apologized to the team, who accepted and claimed to be “in the process of forgiving.”

But still, some came to Imus’ defense. Rosie O’Donnell, who recently parodied Chinese people in a racist manner on her talk show, defended Imus’ right of free speech.

You can cross the line with free speech, and insulting a whole race and gender is crossing the line. No half-hearted apology can do a thing to make that better.

The belated apology and firing shows that America is too accepting of racial epithets. There are many people out there who are willing to write off this incident as a bad joke and not enough people writing shock-jocks like Imus off entirely.

Howard Stern, and others in the shock-jock genre, should not get away with racial remarks for the simple fact that “it’s their job.”

Racism should never be accepted, and Imus, the most legendary shock-jock, has made a career of walking the line between offensive and humorous. He has referred to both gays and Palestinians with socially unacceptable expletives. He has received multiple fines, given multiple apologies to those he offended, and then he went off and did it again.

Those slaps on the wrist were not enough to shut Imus up, because he was essentially getting paid to be crude. Shock-jocks like Imus get away with making these generalized statements, because they are not directed at anyone in particular.

The truth is Imus will get another job. He will offend more people. And he will get paid more money. It was Imus’ job to shock us, but it’s our job to refuse to be shocked.

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