No one wants to give this story more media attention. But ignoring it is detrimental in many ways. As sick as we all are of hearing about Don Imus, it's sad that most people don't even realize he was allowed back on the air this Monday (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22093587/). So CBS may have dropped him, but WABC had no trouble, monetarily or ethically, it seems, of picking him up.
Regardless of how you feel about Imus, and his status as shock jock king, the problem here is not so much him, but the media, the politics, and all the maneuverings associated. When Imus made those degrading statements (doubly degrading in that they not only showed disrespect to blacks, but women in general), the media caught hold quickly, and wouldn't seem to let go. Politicians and other figure heads disassociated themselves with him, and advertisers took their spots away from CBS. Whatever your opinion on whether or not Imus should have been let go, you have to appreciate the snowball effect, and the actions of many groups of people to get this guy off the air. Obviously, the politicians and past guests of Imus's show were jockeying out the line of fire for selfish reasons, but to some extent, that was just good sense. Even his supporters were weary of staying too close.
What Imus's firing did do was send a message: Degradation of women and especially women of different races is not to be tolerated in the mainstream. This was a good thing. While freedom of speech is important, these women are fairly private individuals - they are scholars, athletes, and they didn't deserve even the suggestion of the words fired upon them. Imus can say whatever he wants, true, to a point - but he learned that "whatever he wants" can still come with consequences, no matter how many people listen to his show.
But the most disgusting, appalling, and overall depressing aspect of this situation is his semi-quiet return to the airwaves, and the media's non-event reporting of it. Basically, the message is: take the flak for a few months, let things die down, and a recession-prone economy will welcome you back. It's altogether worse than not firing Imus at all. He was supposed to serve as an example for what happens in this country if you are prejudiced and misogynistic - and sadly, he is an example of how this country addresses questions of equality : Put up a good front, make a grand gesture, then turn that gesture on its head once it is more convenient to do otherwise--to hell with equality and fair treatment when budgets and cost margins are in play. As long as the dollars are in our pockets, we don't seem to mind what escapes our mouths or hits our ears - that could also be considered the systematic desensitization of our ethical and moral capabilities. It isn't even about what Imus said, it isn't even about what he's doing now. And this argument can be expanded to so many other areas -- people reasoning that cost effectiveness, and what the majority of people want, is more important than the ethics and moral standards we have written down and tried to live for years. At what point, on the sliding scale of human action, does morality overtake our feelings of comfort and reliance on status quo?
For another shocking and disturbing shock jock story, please read here: http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=645268&category=REGIONOTHER&BCCode=HOME&newsdate=12/7/2007. Being an acquaintance of the woman in this story, it hits home. She is a wonderful person, and deserves the settlement she received, and so much more. Best wishes to her.