and a New Morning
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
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
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.
lack of civility lies at the base of this. A lack of chivalry as
well, as Chivalry-Now sorely points out.
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.
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
time is right for something better.