After initially serving him a two-week suspension, CBS has fired Don Imus for his racist and sexist remarks against the Rutgers women’s basketball team (pictured, with junior Matee Ajavon standing). The players appeared on Oprah today, before the news was announced, and said what they really wanted was to meet with Imus face-to-face. “We wanted to see the man behind the mike,” said junior Essence Carson. Neither the players or their coach had called for Imus’ firing.
But now, that’s done. As someone who had never listened to Imus’ talk show and never would have, I think this is the right move in terms of acknowledging that times are changing. “Free speech” alone was not reason enough for Imus to get to stick around, having said what he did about innocent teenagers, not to mention all the other offensive things he’s said throughout his career. That’s not free speech; it’s hate speech, and why should it exist on the radio if it doesn’t have to? The guy was old, set in his ways, and assumed he could get away with being a jerk. Happens all the time. Just because he was singled out and got tons of press this week doesn’t mean anyone overreacted here. An important question, then, is: Will Imus be the designated scapegoat for the verbal swamp that is the rest of talk radio, or will broadcasters, sponsors, and potential guests start paying more attention to the murkier regions that probably offend plenty of people every day?
What do you think? Would CBS and MSNBC have made such a drastic move if Imus in the Morning’s advertisers hadn’t pulled out? Will Imus pop up again elsewhere, or is his career over? And even if you think CBS overreacted, I really want to know: What would anyone gain from one more bigot staying on the air? It baffles me.