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Imus, and a New Morning

The recent, derogatory comments by American radio and television talk show host, Don Imus, toward female basketball players at Rutgers University warrants some attention.
    His remarks, made on national television, were both racist and sexist, and were directed at innocent young students who deserved only praise for their achievements.
    Admittedly, he was trying to be "funny" with his abrasive comments, so typical of his "I don't give a damn" humor. But the public uproar he instigated changed all that. Having hurt these young women, and getting penalized both in reputation and income, it is fair to say that Don Imus now "gives a damn" indeed.
    Mr. Imus is justly known for his good works, but he is also known for hurting people with his caustic rhetoric. He has made a lot of money with that kind of rhetoric, and no doubt helped to shape the milieu of talk radio and television we suffer from today. There are listeners who thrill by his bluntness and loose tongue speculations, perhaps wishing they had the nerve to be so free and uncaring.
    Attention has been focused on the racial and sexist content of his remarks, and the cultural ease in which he made them. While he claims he is not a racist or sexist, his initial insensitivity suggests at least a residue of each. Now that the damage is done, he apologizes. Like so many things, his good intentions are sadly too late.
    I take this opportunity to sidestep the issues of racism and sexism, which we all know is wrong and is amply covered by the somewhat hypocritical media.
    I prefer focusing on the cultural dynamics that brought about Mr. Imus' confidence that allowed him to say what he did.
    We see a lot of this on television commentaries, and on talk radio shows. Caustic, uncivil bantering and shouting, meant to shock the listener into subdued awe and admiration. Often these commentators support a particular political extreme, knowing that fellow extremists thrive on such unmitigated discourse. Everything they say is geared to twist the facts and personal motives of their victims. They proudly do this under the aegis of free speech, as if the right to free speech was meant to support malicious lies and manipulations.
    Their motives? Fame, lots of money, and political influence that cannot be justified by either truth or benign moral standards. They defend causes without questioning their validity. They flourish on being outrageous, and then sheepishly back away from responsibility when things go wrong.
    These men and women have strongly contributed to the lack of civility in our culture, and to the false image of morality based on glib confidence and resolve rather than right versus wrong. They pretend to be crusaders for truth, when they are just the opposite.
    This is the result of a culture that has lost sight of the primacy of truth, and replaced it with the thrill of entertainment discourse. Not only do they get paid handsomely for the disease they propagate, we all end up paying for the cultural destruction they feed into.
    This is where Chivalry-Now needs to take a stand. We see what's going on, and how wrong it is. We have the moral vision to know better, to cry out for manly compassion and social civility. This is not a ratings game for us. We are not entrenched by political extremism, or having to defend what is wrong to curtail corporate losses. We have a voice, a clear voice of reason and moral outrage that needs to be heard.
    It is time that we boldly speak out about the illusions and manipulations that harm the world we live in, from politics to the media to the gossip at work who relishes the surreptitious pleasure of hurting others. We need to speak out because human beings are more than what this broken culture is propagating.
    Celebrities like Don Imus (and scores of others) grow famous by pushing the line of acceptability beyond what is moral acceptability. They seduce the worst from their audiences, and then bemoan the cultural deficit that they created! Only when it is too late, when the truly innocent are publicly humiliated, do people condemn them, and even then only until things calm down. The truth is, the innocence of who we are as a people is constantly being attacked by their purposeful tirades. They profess moral outrage, while destroying morality itself.
A lack of civility lies at the base of this. A lack of chivalry as well, as Chivalry-Now sorely points out.
But please, keep in mind, in our attempt to change things, we must not become like them. As outrageous as the situation is, we must stay true to our beliefs and to reasonable, civil discourse. Once we stoop to their level, we become them, no matter what our good intent, and our goal is lost.
We must remain clear-thinking in our resolve, and take every opportunity to point out the shallowness of greed that seems to permeate everything around us. Speak out. You don't have to shout, or stand in front of a group. But let your voice be heard. Get people thinking and talking.
The time is right for something better.


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