I written often recently about the latest technique being used by various special interest groups to stifle free speech, or, more specifically, stifle speech with which they disagree. Here's just one example I'm chronicled recently.
The key technique used by the special interest group is to warn of some unspecified danger or threat, such as "protests" or "riots" or "boycotts" or "unfavorable press." If you let so and so speak, we can't guarantee the safety of persons attending the speech or the sanctity of the venue or the "reputation" you'll get for sponsoring this hateful (or evil or racist or militant or anti-religious or whatever) person.
A significant portion of the time these threats actually work. A speech is cancelled. A forum is closed. An art exhibit is removed from public view.
This technique has become so successful, it is now used almost every week. And it is used successfully by conservatives and liberals, Christians, Jews and Muslims, and virtually any group that seeks to enhance their position by eliminating competing ideas and all forms of criticism.
A variation of this technique is to attack the speaker or artist or performer with accusations of hate or, most often, religious, sexual, or racial prejudice. Usually the protesters demand the offender by fired, censored or muzzled.
Today the two latest victims are Rosie O'Donnell (offending the conservative right) and Don Imus (offending nearly everyone, but especially the black activist community).
My understanding of Don Imus racially charged remark stems from the fact that at one time or another and in one context or another "nappy headed" refers to the hair texture of many blacks and persons of color (and my ash blond mother-in-law).
"Ho" is easier to define as it is the frequently used slang term for whore, most often heard on literally dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of urban contemporary and rap songs. But "ho" is more complicated. It is also very often used as an alternative to "girlfriend," a slang tern showing some sort of possession and is sometimes used affectionately.
Don't believe me? Just listen to any urban radio station (or Wizard Radio).
In it's most common usage, a whore (or "ho") is someone who sells themselves for some sort of reward. In that sense of the word, Don Imus is a classic whore. He trades his name and good will for all sorts of treats and goodies and he brags about it daily. Someone gave him a flat panel television in exchange for a good mention. Anyone who has listened to Imus for the last 20 years has heard hundreds of such braggadocios claims by the I-man.
Imus is one proud "ho." In fact, looking at his hair, he is one "nappy headed ho."
I'm not here today to defend Don Imus. His free speech isn't threatened. And I love to watch the marketplace of public opinion work its magic. Imus might even lose his job. But he'll get another one.
I'm certainly not here to attack the horrible and obvious hypocrisy of Imus' attackers like Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton. I'll leave that to the acid tongued and incredibly prolific Mary over at Freedom Eden.
And I'm not even here to defend upside-down Rosie. She's a schoolyard bully riding roughshod over anyone who dares to challenge her unorthodox views on 9/11 or other U.S. conspiracies so secret only Rosie knows about them. But her frequent weird outbursts are driving up ratings for ABC and her free speech isn't threatened either.
But I'm a little worried about my free speech and yours. The attacks on Imus by the racially active left are a continuing step in setting up a "protected class." One group of people protected from most words, phrases or insults or even criticism because of the risk of a racial insult.
Non-blacks cannot use the word "N word" no matter how often they hear it on their favorite rap radio station. Now we all understand the racially charged background of the "N word" and it's use as a racial epithet
But I was appalled to read a blog this week by the civil rights activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson over on The Huffington Post. Hutchinson, in his entry "Why Imus Won't Go" raises the prohibited word barrier to nearly insurmountable heights.
Hutchinson sees racial slander under every rock and behind every tree. Among the code words Hutchinson fears are: "law and order," "crime in the streets," "permissive society," "welfare cheats," "subculture of violence," "subculture of poverty," "culturally deprived," "lack of family values," "crime prone," "war zone," "gang infested," "crack plagued," "drug turfs," "drug zombies," "violence scarred," "ghetto outcasts," "ghetto poverty syndrome," "hos," "welfare queens," and "baby makers."
To be certain, depending on the context they are used, any of these terms can characterize any group of people. Frankly, here in the South, I've heard every single term above, without exception, used to refer to whites. And don't forget "white trash."
While Hutchinson is defending the ladies from Rutgers, it seems to me these women are already among our best and brightest. I don't believe for one minute that these athlete scholars need any protection from the likes of Don Imus.
Imus was totally correct when he characterized these ladies as tough and aggressive. They don't need to be a protected class.
And we don't need to tread lightly, with great fear and trepidation, whenever we write or speak or characterize any group of people. Not blacks. Not Catholics. Not Muslims. Not Jews. Not gays. Not women.
I'm not condoning racism. Or any "ism." But I'd sure hate to not be able to use the words "law and order" or "crime in the streets" except when talking about middle aged white guys.
TECHNORATI TAGS: FREE SPEECH DON IMUS ROSIE O'DONNELL
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