Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus Fired; Sykes Dodges

A couple of days ago, I submitted a fairly timely and newsy post, I thought. I had just heard Charlie Sykes call Al Sharpton a "pimp" on his radio show, while he was discussing the Imus imbroglio. The use of "pimp" referring to strong, flamboyant African-American man is certainly as offensive as Imus calling some basketball players "hos".

In fact, it was worse. The Imus incident happened because he was egged on by his incredibly stupid producer to say something about people he knew nothing about, based on their physical appearance in some sports footage. In contrast, Sykes chose to use his racial slur against someone he seeks to belittle, on purpose, with premeditation and malice.

My post fell in the blogosphere like a leaden balloon on a bright summer day. I got some comments and a couple hundred people checked it out, but I didn’t get the post linked on WisOpinion (always a disappointment, but that often happens when I pick on one of their other featured "bloggers") and surely no acknowledgment from Sykes or anyone seeking to defend his wacky racist antics.

One of my favorite wing-nut tactics is when they point out supposedly progressive bloggers or commenters that have written something so outrageous that they can use it to slur all Democrats or lefties. The most prominent recent example is when somebody dug deep in the Huffington Post comments section to find celebrations of the bombing outside of a compound where Dick Cheney was staying in Afghanistan. "This is the Democratic base!" they exclaim, when such comments are nothing of the sort. In fact, like the phony "lefty" callers that provide comic relief on local and national wing-nut radio, such comments are left by probably plants – someone pretending to be left just to give the left a bad name.

But they ignore the effective progressive voices, because they don’t have an answer for them. Although I know I am being read by them, they refuse to engage. As I have always contended, the wing-nuts are repelled from honest debate like Superman from Kryptonite. Sykes or Belling wouldn’t let themselves get caught in a even-up public debate if their life depended on it. The radio emperors would be exposed without their clothes. They hide in their corporate studio cocoons and their safely-constructed TV-show panels. If they said half the stuff they do on the radio in public, they’d get eaten alive. They are the wimpiest tough-guys in show business.

So, now, for his sins, the relatively progressive Imus has been sacked – banished to the false futuristic promise of satellite radio, no doubt. But Sykes (with his "pimp" calling) and Belling and (with his "wetback" comment) remain on the air and untouchable. Is Milwaukee really this desperate for media personalities that we have to put up with these divisive poisonous personalities? Can’t we do better? Shouldn’t we try?

P.S.: Speaking of (not) engaging, I called in to the Belling show this afternoon. He was exercising his remarkable intellect on the Iraq war, which is always good for a laugh. I was calling to say he actually was very close to the Democratic position of pulling the troops out of harm’s way in Baghdad and keeping some in the country (read: redeploy) to fight Al Qaeda and protect borders. The screener put me on hold, eventually told me I was "next", then clicked in to tell me he was "sorry" and the line went dead. I don’t know why they even bothered to pretend I was going to get a chance on the air with Belling, who is a notorious debate-wimp. Several years ago, I actually got on the air and he was in trouble dealing with an honest debate. Suddenly, he asked me a question and then cut me off. On the air, he actually pretended like I was still there, and pretended that I couldn’t answer the question. These are the kinds of people we are dealing with – paranoid, manipulative wimps with microphones.


Anonymous said...

We should try - the example we should all be following is Spocko in San Francisco. He's the guy who taped and posted vile commentary from a local radio station and encouraged other bloggers and viewers to send letters to advertisers.

The reason Imus was dumped had nothing to do with what he said - he's said worse. It was the fact that it was on tape and "YouTubed" for all to see. When his major advertisers pulled out, his program was not salvagable. He may have a life in satellite radio, but who cares.

For more about Spocko -

Hopefully that link will work.

Of course, someone would actually have to listen to the Bellings, Sykes, and McBrides to record and transcribe (yuck), but then again, maybe someone already is. We should all be so lucky.

krshorewood said...

When you look at Imus off the air he does done a lot of public service. That doesn't give him license to say what he said. In fact what he has said on air cheapens those activities.

On the other hand, can you think of one charity or cause that either Belling or Sykes has advanced or fronted (the Republican party doesn't count), except Sykes' bogus support the troops?

Point is they add nothing positive to Milwaukee.

Third Eye said...

Give me a break, Mike. Now "pimp" is a racial slur? Better call Webster and have them update their definition of the word.

And if you're going to slime Chucky Sykes for the use of the word, you'll have to do the same for Casey Hoff and John Sylvester, two liberal talk show hosts on my local dial. Both of them used the word to describe Sharpton and Jackson the other day. And perhaps you didn't hear Jason Whitlock's recent comments on them.

Mike Plaisted said...

Well, you fight your battles in Madison, if you want, and we'll fight ours.

And so what if some African-American guy in Kansas City (Whitlock) has written a column that has been picked up by GOP talking-pointers as the perfect deflection to dodge the impact of the Imus saga? Whitlock says what Imus said is OK for a "shock-jock" and not nearly as bad as the gangsta rappers who talk this kind of trash and worse all the time.

That has been (part of) the wing-nut rap all week. All of them have to say "Imus was wrong", then they get to all the "buts": BUT Jackson said "Hymietown" - BUT Sharpton supported Tawana Brawley's claims - BUT rappers all use the same language - BUT Imus was a many BUTs, apparently, it is hard to say why we don't give the I-Man a medal rather than a boot out the door.

"Pimp" is the male version of "ho". When you use the word to degrade not only personally, but racially, it is a racist use of the term. If Imus used the word "ho" generally -- and I'm sure he has -- it's silly, but not the same sort of problem. If he uses it directly AT innocent African-American women, then it's a racist attack.

When Charlie Sykes used "pimp" in order to degrade and dehumanize a flamboyant, strong black man, he is using cheap racial stereotypes to racially attack him. That's racist.

Saying other people in Madison or otherwise have used the same word in relation to Sharpton or Jackson means nothing. If they did it in the same way for the same reasons, they are wrong, too.

Third Eye said...

"So what?" The opinions on Sharpton/Jackson of those who are actively advocating for the welfare and advancement of blacks don't matter? Baloney, they're the ones with the most credibility here. And speaking of credibility, a majority of the black callers on both Sly's and Hoff's shows agreed with their assessment. That's how I first heard of Whitlock, so it isn't just the conservative crowd who agrees with him. Sounds like there may be a silent majority out there.

"Pimp" is certainly not the male version of "hoe". The former is most commonly used nowadays to praise someone or something, while the latter never has anything positive attached to it. However, "pimp" can also be used to describe anyone who takes advantage of a group of people to further his/her own personal agenda, image, and bank account, which is precisely what people like Sharpton, Jackson, Robertson, and Coulter do. There's nothing racial about it.

And now you get into the argument that whether a word is racist or not depends on: a)the race of the person using it, b)the race of the person it's used to describe, and c)the other personal traits of the person it's used to describe. The permutations of that are just endless, which gives way to hundreds of different standards and a general feeling of racial resentment in this country. It's convoluted linguistic psychobabble like this that so many people have found so absurd in the last week, and rightfully so. The PC intellectual Gestapo is trying to make it so no one can say anything anymore.

A wise man once said, "You can't be afraid of words that tell the truth. Even if it's an unpleasant truth, like the fact that there's a bigot and a racist on every street corner and in every living room in this country." So let people call a spade a spade. Our language can be used to unite or divide the races in this country. While Imus' remarks certainly do the latter, so does telling a white guy that he's automatically racist if he calls a black guy a pimp.

Mike Plaisted said...

Jason Whitlock is a sports columnist in Kansas City who calls Sharpton and Jackson "domestic terrorists" in his follow-up column. I think he might be in a bit over his head. He may want to stick to explaining why Kansas didn't make it to the Final Four.

When a sport columnist is picked out of deserved obscurity to score points against regular right-wing targets like Sharpton, I say -- that's the best they can do? And, yes, I also say: So what?

And so what if some African-American callers called in to a talk-radio show in Madison and supported the host's pimp-calling? If you know anything about how calls are screened, you know that you cannot assume that the sample on the air was representative. People who do not support the host's point of view just don't make it on the air, unless the screener senses a weakness he knows the host can exploit.

A better example is what happned on Belling's show this past Friday. An apparently African-American guy called to call Sharpton and Jackson a pimp. Didn't say why, just "pimp, pimp, pimp". Belling didn't say it himself -- now he didn't have to. Do you think this caller just spontaneously called the station to do that or was it a set-up? If you don't think such set-ups happen, how gullible are you?

There is only one thing you can say about a white guy calling a black guy a pimp -- If the white guy is smart, he's probably not in the same room with the black guy when he says it.

Whether it's racist or not depends on the context. If you are Charlie Sykes trying to take Sharpton down a notch by calling up decades of racial stereotypes, you are a damn racist.

I love this: "PC Gestapo". Nothing like bringing the Nazis into it -- I mean, you know what the Gestapo did, don't you? My words and complaints are not nearly as powerful as that historically ugly organization and I wouldn't want them to be. What cheap phrases like that do is try to shut up anyone who complains about poor Charlie Sykes and his right to throw around hateful racist attacks.

I've never heard so much whining in my whole life as a wing-nut on the defensive. If they want to play the game of hate language, let them come out and defend it. Instead they hide in their studios. They create the heat on purpose, then whine about it, and then lock themselves in their 50,000-watt kitchen.

Awww, "no one can say anything anymore". Poor babies. You can say what you want and I get to say what I want in response and in addition. Except some get to say their piece on their three-hour daily radio programs. I get to write a blog, read by hundreds (on a good day). Now, whose speech is more free?