Thus spoke Imus

Pop culture echoes the talker’s boneheaded “ho’s” slur
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  April 11, 2007

As longtime listeners of the Imus In the Morning radio show, broadcast locally on WHJJ-AM, Phillipe + Jorge were amused by the “I am shocked! Shocked!” response to how Imus referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed ’ho’s.”
 
The National Association of Black Journalists demanding Imus’s immediate firing. Executives at MSNBC, which nationally airs his show on TV, and at CBS, which produces his radio show, promised to keep him in line. As it stands, Imus is already on a two-minute delay on WHJJ. (MSNBC and CBS have announced that Imus’s show will be suspended for two weeks, after that arbiter of all that is good, ethical, and non-exploitative regarding women of color, Al “Tawana Brawley” Sharpton, called for his ouster.)
 
For better or for worse, Imus has a reputation for being an equal opportunity offender — upsetting Asians, Jews, Arabs, blacks, what have you — abetted by his colleagues on the show, including producer Bernard McGuirk, who played off Imus in the run-up to his latest insulting remarks.
 
Those vaguely familiar with Imus In the Morning know that anyone is fodder for the show’s barbs, however low-rent and questionable in taste. What seems more baffling is how high-level politicians, media, and music folks clamor to be on the program to express their opinions on real issues of the day. It’s hard to fathom since they often face more intelligent dialogue and a tougher interview than with media talking hairdos like Brian Williams or Barbara Walters. Have no fear that very few will heed the hysterical calls for these guests to boycott Imus in the future.
 
What P&J find very offensive reaches beyond the Imus program, into the world of music and multimedia, including TV and other radio shows. We refer to the repeated use of words like “’ho’s” and “bitches,” in reference to women, or “dykes” and “faggots.” Many rappers and reggae “artists” are heavy-handed users of these vicious terms.
 
Tolerating this type of denigration of a whole range of individuals opens the door to not just demeaning them, but to persecution, be it psychological or physical. That is a real problem. Kids now grow up thinking it is OK to call girls and women “’ho’s,” while such talk would have earned them a trip to the floor or worse, courtesy of the female in question or her male friends, 20 years back.
 
With tacit public approval, this kind of talk can quickly move from words to sticks and stones. Imus should know much better.

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