About Don Imus:
"Of course I was aware of many of his obnoxious comments about minority groups, including my own, Jews. Sometimes he aimed invective at me personally. I wasn’t seriously bothered by much of it, even when it was unfunny or made me wince, because I saw him as equally offensive to everyone. The show’s crudest interludes struck me as burlesque. "
Frank Rich falls back on the tired old excuse that since someone is offensive to all, he is not an offender.
It is one thing to tolerate and even defend offensive speech because one believes in the freedom of speech; but it is quite another thing to support it, e.g., by repeatedly appearing on the show. I think Frank Rich is tone-deaf in that regard.
David Kamp (via James Wolcott) puts it well:
"But I’ve always winced at anyone who bills himself (or has his representatives bill him) as an “equal-opportunity offender”–which is the tack that the defenders of Don Imus have taken. Any true aficionado of comedy and comedians knows that “equal-opportunity offender” is apologist code for “hack entertainer trading in dated ethnographic material.” Jackie Mason comes to mind (he actually has a DVD out called Equal Opportunity Offender ), as does Carlos Mencia. A corollary to this, which I learned from my old Spy boss Kurt Andersen , is that anyone who uses a construction along the lines of “I treat people all the same; I don’t care if they’re black, white, purple, or green”–who uses colors that no human being can actually be –is inherently a racist bastard.* "
Wolcott quotes a standup comic to the same effect:
"People say,'Black, white, purple, polka-dot, makes no difference to me, I don't believe in discrimination.' They're so proud of themselves. Like some nice polka-dot family is going to move in next door, come over to borrow things. Hell, anybody can be tolerant of imaginary beings ."
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