Is Imus The Only One Who Is Sorry?

Say what you want about Don Imus, but he apologized until he couldn't say it anymore and paid the price for his bonehead comments about the women of the Rutgers basketball team. He actually left the industry with his head up -- not down. He was plastered by the news media, competitors and the increasingly powerful minority groups who wanted his head.

They got it.

Now, where are they?

Augusta radio personality Austin Rhodes repeated the Imus slur last week. The NAACP is after him but he is still gainfully employed. Advertisers are still advertising.

Get a load what Rush Limbaugh got away with just last week:

"If this Virginia Tech shooter had an ideology, what do you think it was? This guy had to be a liberal. You start railing against the rich and all this other -- this guy's a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it's a liberal that committed this act. Now, the drive-bys will read on a website that I'm attacking liberalism by comparing this guy to them. That's exactly what they do every day, ladies and gentlemen. I'm just pointing out a fact. I am making no extrapolation; I'm just pointing it out.

They try -- whenever -- I can tell you from the history of this program, starting way back in the early '90s, when there was any kind of an incident, crime or what-have-you that attracted national attention, in the early days of this program, the drive-by media went out and they tried to connect the perpetrator to this program. They did everything they could. In fact, it went so far as Bill Clinton blaming me for influencing Timothy McVeigh to blow up the (Oklahoma City federal) building.

These are the people sponsoring lies and distortion for the purposes of dividing this country and creating hatred. These are the people that invented this kind of tactic, if you will."
Nobody has the guts to go after Rush -- as my friend, John Parikhal observed.

Not insulting enough?

Last Wednesday Opie & Anthony did an on-air reading of a play written by Virginia Tech mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui and then posted it on the Internet. This all happened on CBS-owned WFNY-FM, New York. You know, that CBS. The one operated by Les Moonves and presided over by Sumner Redstone who he was sure would do the right thing on the Imus issue.

Does anyone at CBS listen unless or until the advertising boycott begins?

If Don Imus said this, he would have been hoisted to a strong branch of a steady tree with a noose around his neck:
"When history of this event is written, we will have 25 students standing meekly waiting for this guy to execute them. Waiting for what. The government to save them."

Well, Neal Boortz said it.

Boortz was trying to boost his ratings on more than 150 stations. Oh, and he added Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" going into the commercial break.

Or Michael Savage, the evicted MSNBC homophobic host, took the racial angle on his radio show:

"..the only reason (Cho) was walkin' the streets was because liberal scum have for 30 years handcuffed the police and the people of this country and made us hostages in their drama".

Is that offensive enough to the families of the Virginia Tech students who lost their lives?

And yet holding my nose and bending over a toilet to throw up my guts, I agree with freedom of speech advocate, the community radio owner Bill O'Shaughnessy who said, "Censorship which results from corporate timidity in the face of intimidation or coercion is just as dangerous as the stifling of creative and artistic expression by government fiat, decree, sanction or regulation."

So what to do?

Let's start with equal justice for all -- if one blow-hard talker can sound like a racist windbag on the air, why can't all of them?

Next, let's add in the impossible dream -- that broadcasters would exercise responsibility to be sensitive to our glorious right to freedom of speech and consider it with the needs and sensitivities of their communities.

Finally, does anyone but Mr. O'Shaughnessy stand up for both our individual rights of freedom as well as the media's fiduciary responsibilities to the people listening over the airwaves?

So play, run and replay all the offensive video you want.

Scare the hell out of advertisers with threats of boycotts. No advertiser ever did one thing to advance the cause of free speech.

But remember this.

If you're wondering why traditional media is in trouble, look no further than its inability to balance the public's two greatest needs.

If you're wondering why the next generation -- the one abandoning radio and chopping TV into video clips - is moving on, it's not just about new technology. It's about lame programming and pandering to anything that will gain them ratings in their time of need.

I'd just as soon side with the next generation on this one -- give me the Internet, get me WiFi so I can stream the world wherever I go. Let me click here and there for what I want to see, hear or read.

That kind of democracy will preserve free speech while deleting the likes of the pandering class -- talk radio hosts.

You've got it coming, radio.

You, too, TV.

You're going down with the ship. Mark my words.

If you'd like to read my thoughts on Clear Channel's new commercial-free radio station in Dallas and see the nominees for my First Annual Lowry Awards recognizing individuals and companies who embody the concept of Less if More -- both scheduled to run this week -- sign up below.

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