Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Good vs. Evil

For months now this topic has been playing in my mind and I have wondered just how I wanted to address it. Well I think the "Don Imus" controversy has finally given me a good platform from which to launch my views on the continual lack of good in our society. Our world is becoming more and more evil by the second and Imus has brought this to the forefront.
Over the last three days I have listened to everyone from Al Sharpton to Michael Baisden lament the outrageous comments made in reference to the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. This whole controversy spoiled a wonderful experience because I had the good fortune to watch these young ladies fight for the championship in Quickens Loan Arena here in Cleveland. It was a good game, they are a very young but talented team with long careers ahead of them.
When I first heard about Imus' comments I was appalled and saddened for these young ladies who did nothing to deserve such degradation. They are some of the best and brightest in our community and they work hard daily to try to improve their lot in life. Something that everyone hopes for and encourages in young people. How then did they become the brunt of some sick old man's "joke".
My question is, "Where was the joke?" Then there are all of those who have stated well he's a "shock jock" and their aim is to do things that shock you into listening to them. Unfortunately for a large segment of our population this type of entertainment is acceptable and something they look forward to, I for one, had only a vague awareness of Imus prior to this incident and based on everything I have heard since I'm happy I did not have the opportunity to waste any brain cells or valuable time listening to his take on life.
As I pondered this situation I had a number of conversations with many people who agreed that the comments were outrageous, degrading, sexist, racist and they all called for harsh punishment. One conversation with a twentysomething male however rendered a different response. While he found the remarks offensive he felt the outcry from the National Association of Black Journalists in particular was unwarranted because they just as Imus are protected by the 1st amendment offering the freedom of speech. He also recounted comments made by nationally syndicated radio host Russ Parr who also spoke of the freedom of speech and indicated that he himself has said outrageous things, but because he doesn't have the following of Imus they don't make national news.
According to my young friend, the Parr show regularly hosts skits on the Chinese, elderly black women etc. Which leads me to my title - Good versus Evil.
Today we (the black community) live in a world in which young men and women appear to have a genuine disregard for one another. We do not respect one another and find it acceptable to use derogatory language in song, comedy and the written word. Many of our young people proudly peddle negative images of themselves and their community, but why?
In many ways this is because they see adults performing in the same manner. We have become a society of people with limited levels of self-esteem and the way one attempts to elevate oneself when hurt is by hurting others. But this phenomenon is not limited to the black community it is a reflection of the larger community. In the constant fight to move ahead we must first denounce and step on those who are the least among us.
It was encouraging this evening to hear that MSNBC had dropped the Imus show, yet despite their statements about the image of NBC Universal I would bet it had a lot to do with the fact that Procter & Gamble, General Motors and Staples had withdrawn their advertising dollars from the show. The bottom line in America is the bottom line! To that end I applaud the aforementioned advertisers for taking a stand against hatred in our community.
I strongly believe in the Freedom of Speech, but I do not believe in degrading young women of any race!
Let's all take a lesson from this incident and attempt to live our lives in a positive manner. As our mothers taught us - "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything", and barring that make your point without being hurtful and bigoted in your remarks. Think before you speak, write, rap or make public your views!

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