This week's New Yorker has a piece on Don Imus. The hook for the story is Imus v Imus, a "bracketing" put together by Richard Sandomir to entice Imus to be in his book The Enlightened Bracketologist.

The NYer article describes Imus as a curmudgeon, and rightfully so given what I'd heard on the show sporadically.

Given Miss Snark is herself a curmudgeon, that caught my eye.

What Imus forgot, and what Miss Snark tries damn hard to never forget is you only get to bite the hands of volunteers. By that I mean people who in my case email questions, or send work into the crapometer, or pontificate on their blogs about the publishing industry, or in general offer themselves up to the blogosphere.

Going after politicians and public figures as Imus regularly did is fair game. I think his disrespect of the sitting presidents was loathsome, but a president is fair game in a democracy, and thankfully so.

The Rutgers Basketball team isn't fair game. They didn't ask to be on Imus's show, they weren't public figures in the sense of holding forth about much of anything other than wanting to win the championship, and they didn't do anything worthy of disdain.

The first rule of curmudgeons is you only get to disdain the deserving.

When you bite the hand that isn't deserving it's called bullying, hectoring, and witless, and you get called unemployed.

If Mr. Imus needs curmudgeon tutoring, Miss Snark is available. Written application of course. Spelling counts.


quietly writing said...

Ah, but assuming that the esteemed Miss Snark is truly female, then she cannot be a "curmudgeon," since the term only applies to men.

"Curmudgeoness," perhaps. :)

Dave said...

Well said. Absolutely right!

judy said...

Ah, good point.

But don't you think that these celebrity types think that anyone is fair game and after they get away with bullying whomever they want for so long, they know no bounds.

Anonymous said...

A sitting President, a man or woman who has the power to send our sons and daughters to their possible deaths with a signature, is absolutely the best target for extensive scrutiny, and if said target ends up being called a "monkey faced dolt who can't pronounce nuclear" by someone, it's just too damn bad.

Specific stories of Imus' racism and use of the N word have been surfacing for twenty years, by the way. Sadly, he will just find a home elsewhere.

Lastly, it's interesting that Isaiah Washington wasn't fired for his hateful comment, while the turkey necked Imus was.

Twill said...

I am surprised at the claim that prominent athletes are not public figures.

A more relevant distinguishing characteristic to me is that they didn't actually do anything (that I know of) to deserve the epithet.

Joni said...

Twill, re: "I am surprised at the claim that prominent athletes are not public figures."

We're not talking about professional athletes who need to curry public attention and favor for a buck. We're talking about college students who also happen to play basketball, and who don't get paid, and who never saw a warning before the team try-outs along the lines of, "Careful, being on this basketball team means you're fair game for personal and racial name-calling in the national media." There's nothing about that kind of athlete that meets the legal or even the common definition of "public figure."

And yeah, Judy, I think an unfortunate side-effect of our media channels, including the Internet and blogs, is that people "speaking" on them begin to think their words and opinions are heaven-sent. I have seen some amazingly arrogant things on blogs lately, things that nobody in their right mind would speak verbally to a listener's face.

Which is why I appreciate Miss S's frequent reminders to us (and to herself) that she is not the font of ALL wisdom (just some of it).

Anonymous said...

Rutgers is in New Jersey. Imus was in New York. Coincidence?

Q: Why are New Yorkers so crabby?
A: The light at the end of the tunnel is New Jersey.

Basketball said...

"There's nothing about that kind of athlete that meets the legal or even the common definition of "public figure."

That's not entirely correct. The games are televised to a national audience. College athletes are interviewed by television stations. Their performance is reported in newspapers with local and/or national distribution. This is the first step to a professional league--team scouts, the players and the public are very much aware of this. The statement from the team to Imus was made during a press conference, not in a meeting closed the public.

Team members' compensation is tied to scholarships and other perks, the value of which can be assessed. Sources of revenue are broadcasting conracts and sales of merchandise.

Miss Snark said...

The Rutgers Women's Basketball team suited up to play hoops. They didn't suit up to play the dozens.

Anonymous said...

I find it absurd that the people who have the most to say about Imus in the media and elsewhere never really listened to him on a regular basis.

I did. He was many things. Racist was not one of them. Jerk. Asshole. Snob. Prick. Yes. Absolutely. Many times over. Racist? NEVER.

He made the mistake of thinking he could go into "black speak." Obviously, he was not entitled. he apologized. He got that. But he should have just said "sorry," then shut the fuck up. Period. I could picture a black comedian saying the exact same thing and getting laughs galore. Imus forgot he was not a member of the club.

The Rutgers players are hardly victims. Neither are the political figures he and his cohorts have skewered over the years. If you play, you pay.

PLUS: NO ONE was more ridiculed on his show than he was. NO ONE. And by many of the same people who got their names out there, thanks to him. And they gave it back in spades. Funny, how few who reaped the benefits of exposure on Imus' show were willing to speak up for him.

Cowards all.

I am furious beyond belief at the fact that he was fired.

And I eagerly await XM to hire him.

Lin Neiswender said...

Will he include SSAE?

Mark said...

Yes. The first rule of journalism: comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. That said, free speech can tough and limiting it even tougher.

"Lastly, it's interesting that Isaiah Washington wasn't fired for his hateful comment, while the turkey necked Imus was."

Right. Less of a history on on hand and a special pleading on the other. Either way, society loses a little more.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Another thing that saddened me about Imus's comments, besides their racism, was the basic gripe behind them: these women weren't weren't cute and feminine enough, by his standards, to earn his approval. And so they didn't count. No matter that Imus is hideous lookking himself or that these women were competing (with dignity and strength) in a sporting event.

When will we get past the point where women are judged soley on how "doable" they seem to the men around them? Never?

Off topic, but I've noticed that even one of my favorite tv personalities, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, is often guilty of this. Women seldom seem to merit his attention unless he personally finds them attractive.

Anonymous said...

Molly Ivins said:
There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity -- like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule -- that’s what I do. Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel -- it’s vulgar.

ebdreamn said...

I listened to Imus periodically. I say listened because he wasn't much to look at. I remember he did a stint where he wore a nasal cannula after some ranch incident supposedly rendered him in need of more oxygen perfusion. Imus provided me with the same expectant hope that I get from perusing the occasional NASCAR event. I am on constant vigil for carnage, I know its comming...sooner or later. I came, I heard, I winced with glee...I quickly checked The Readers Guide to see if I could find some suicidal Jr's screaming around a circle or maybe a special on snake handling... or free speech.

Elektra said...

"Ah, but assuming that the esteemed Miss Snark is truly female, then she cannot be a "curmudgeon," since the term only applies to men.

Curmudgeoness, perhaps. :) "


Ryan Field said...

Whether these people were famous or not, this was in bad taste. For every action there is a reaction.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, am I the only person who thought he lost a lot of money on the game? Which, in turn, incited his vindictive comments.

Julia said...

Well said, Crabby

Janet Black said...

One anonymous said: “He made the mistake of thinking he could go into "black speak." Obviously, he was not entitled.”
Another anonymous said: “When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel -- it’s vulgar.”
Personally, I'm slightly surprised that there was such a knee-jerk reaction to Imus's ridiculous comments. It was so obvious (at least to me) that he was making a lame attempt to be clever, funny, and 'current' with his words. True, he had no right to include himself in black society - but who really wants to talk like that? Black people shouldn't even say those things. No one should. No one should be fired for saying something that someone else (because they're black) CAN say. And, apparently, the young women of Rutgers are NOT powerless. They are, however, more 'just' than the bulk of society. They accepted his apology and moved on. The rest of us are still jabbering about it and hoping he suffers horribly and is socially and financially destroyed? Shame on us. What does that say? We're no better than he is. We're just hiding behind our politically correct outrage. But, maybe this is how permanent changes are made. It's an excellent reminder of how we should think before we speak. He can apologize, but he cannot erase what he said. It will go down in history as his most famous moment.

Anonymous said...

Would Imus have gotten fired if he'd called Condoleeza Rice or Cynthia Mckinney a "nappy-haired ho?" Hey, maybe a good carmudgeon can say it about Mckinney because she did something thuggish. Still, not funny. And Condy? I might not call for such a carmudgeon's dismissal, but I would turn off my radio.

Anonymous said...

The third anonymous thinks Imus is not a racist. That's bullshit. Everyone's a bit racist, not everyone admits it, and not everyone has a radio show heard by 50 million people where they can casually flaunt it. As a native New Yorker, I listened to Imus regularly until his racism started getting too hard for me to handle. This is not the first time he has made outrageous remarks. This is the first time he got punished for it. And I say it's about time. Only racist white people think Imus is not a racist.

Anonymous said...

Given the subject of this post, it would've been awesome if the last word had been misspelled. Because that would've described Imus well.

I'm not sure about curmudgeonly. But I know that the major difference between Miss Snark and Imus, besides the one in this post, is that Miss Snark is entertaining.

-really Will Entrekin

Anonymous said...

People need to get off this business of trying to make this about what one group can say and what another group can't because it totally misses the point. The whole "Well Johnny did it" excuse didn't fly when we were kids and it doesn't fly now. Nobody got Don Imus fired except Don Imus. (Oh, and his apology? He only apologized when he realized his a** was in a sling. When initially asked about it, the gist of his response was 'I'm Don Imus, you're not, so FO.')

Now then, if anyone cares to launch a campaign against record labels producing trash/hate that some rappers spew, I got your back because I find it no less offensive. But I don't need to bring Don Imus or anybody else into it to feel that way.

toomanybooks said...

What I have found the most interesting about the "Imus thing" is people are finally being called to account for what they say. Thank dog for the internet!

Yes, we have free speech in this country. If you think you can say whatever you want---be prepared for the consequences!

writtenwyrdd said...

You summed it up brilliantly, Miss Snark! Well said!

Hmmm said...

"Only racist white people think Imus is not a racist."

The comment to which you refer is attributed to 'anonymous'. How do you know what that person's race is? You're making an unfair assumption.

LadyBronco said...

They say 'what goes around, comes around.'

Well, it finally came around to Imus and bit him in the ass...

And he deserved every little bit of it.

Irv said...

What about the fact that these NCAA colleges have long ago abandoned any semblance of innocent amateurism? Having institutionally chosen to make themselves a profitable media driven enterprise it is disingenuous to claim the special protected status of innocence while accumulating the rewards of public prominence. Heckling and insult are a price any publicly performing, entertainer, politician or athlete can not expect to be immune from.