Imus initially was given a two-week suspension for calling a mostly black college women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" on the air last week, but outrage continued to grow and advertisers bolted from his CBS radio show and its MSNBC television simulcast. Nappy is a derogatory reference to the hair of some black people, and "ho" is slang for "whore."
Losing Imus will be a financial hit to CBS Radio. The program is worth about US$15 million in annual revenue to CBS, which owns Imus' home radio station WFAN-AM and manages Westwood One, the company that syndicates the show across the US.
Civil rights leaders the Reverend Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson met with Moonves on Thursday to demand Imus' removal, promising a rally outside CBS headquarters today and an effort to persuade more advertisers to abandon Imus.
Jackson called the firing "a victory for public decency. No one should use the public airwaves to transmit racial or sexual degradation."
Said Sharpton: "He says he wants to be forgiven. I hope he continues in that process. But we cannot afford a precedent established that the airways can commercialize and mainstream sexism and racism."
Let me first start off by stating that I firmly believe in the people's right of free speech. Now, having affirmed that, I really have to say that it seems as though there are two main schools of thought about the issue of free speech. With one school of people the feeling is that a person should be able to express themselves without censorship or reprisal. The other school of people feel that there indeed is a level of responsibility that comes along with the people's freedoms, as well as there being responsibility that comes with being a celebrity, and such a well known and influential celebrity as Don Imus. They feel we, as a society, should be much more conscientious about exactly how we make use of our own freedoms. I am of the latter sort. Yes, freedom of speech is important and it is one of our constitutional rights as Americans. But should the right of free speech be seen as being the most important issue here? In my opinion, I think not. Should we not all look to promote positive social change? Why are we all so unwilling to get along better with one another? Why has it become the considered “norm” to speak to and treat other people so horribly? Then, god-forbid if someone should speak out against people who make use of racist, or sexist comments, they often foam at the mouth about their civil rights. Also, it seems as though there are people who suppose that if they use racist or sexist comments in total jest or for the use of comedy, that it becomes more acceptable, even encouraged! I think it’s absolute bullshit! We all deserve and have the right to be respected. We ALL have the right to have our ethnicities, religions, political views, and sexual orientations to be treated with a certain level of reverence!
Everyone seems to be asking whether or not Don Imus had the right to pass that offensive, sexist, and racist comment. Well I have a better question: Why would people want to say sexist, racist, bigoted, ignorant comments? I group all such words as “nigger”, “kike”, “spic”, “nappy”, “ho”, “bitch”, “faggot”, “coon”, “uncle Tom”, “picanniny”, “mammy”, “goyim”, “shfartza” – and other ethnophaulisms as instigative and incendiary. My biggest problem with the whole issue is this: if we allow people in our society to use these terminologies, to think that the use of racist, sexist, or bigoted comments is acceptable, where do we go from there? I’ll tell you. It will lead to rioting in the streets. It will lead to further social tension within the masses. And my question is: Is that what we truly want? Is that in what direction we all want to be headed in? Really??? After all the fighting and protesting women have done to gain their civil rights and be seen as equals with men, after all the years African Americans have fought to become emancipated, after all the struggle every minority and faction of people have been through to have the rights they have in these modern times, look how we, as a collective whole, still get on with each other!
A point a friend of mine made just the other day, and one I fully agree with was that if the people decide to begin censoring people’s freedom of speech then, only to create a more even playing field, that censorship should apply to all people. Let me make myself clear, I totally and wholeheartedly agree with that view. If we are going to begin censoring freedom of speech, it should apply to everyone. Yet do I, in truth, think that freedom of speech should be taken away? Definitely not. I would just prefer to see all of us use the freedoms and rights we have respectfully and responsibly.