Tenspeed & Brownshoe

Saturday, April 14, 2007

After our self imposed exile and a good suggestion from Craig over at The Artful Writer, I decided to post about this whole Don Imus situation.

I've also turned on the comments section because I'm really interested in what people think of this whole issue.

I'm not sure I've ever flip flopped so hard over a single issue. And I think a lot people feel the same way. Mainly because both sides are idiots.

It's like watching Donald Trump and Don King fight over who's got the best hair.

I guess I should start this whole thing off with the basic misinterpretation of what Free Speech is. Wikipedia's definition of Free Speech reads as this:

Freedom of speech is the concept of the inherent human right to voice one's opinion publicly without fear of censorship or punishment.


This Wikipedia definition is insanely vague and more than a little incorrect. But this is how most American's would define Freedom of Speech. No, what Freedom of Speech guarantees is that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Now that's the legal definition. As Americans we retain that right as long as our speech does not pose a clear and present danger (i.e. inciting a riot). Freedom of Speech does not however protect us from consequences.

Nor should it.

(Quick aside: As it turns out Wikipedia is updated by just about anyone and is as accurate as a blind man playing Operation.)

Speech will always have consequences. I'm free to call my boss an idiot but in turn, he's free to fire me. I'm free to call the head of Disney a fascist and he's free to never buy one of my movies. Speech without consequences loses its power. Speech without power is just babbling. And babbling is for brooks and babies.

So this brings us to Don Imus. Where to start? First of all, point of fact, I do not enjoy Don Imus or his radio show. Not because I think he's a racist but I just don't think he's funny. You want funny radio? Download The Ricky Gervais Show with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. Arguably the best radio (actually, they were limited podcasts) ever in the history of recorded sound.

Now first of all, has everyone actually seen or listened to the offending comment? We've all read the "nappy headed ho's" thing but let's see it in context.


Oddly enough, I feel like the entire piece had more offending material than just nappy headed ho's. Fast forward to Friday morning and Don Imus has been fired due to the charge led by Al Sharpton.

(Another quick aside about Al Sharpton. He's an absolute idiot. I'm offended that he thinks that he represents the interests of all black people and 9 times out of 10, he actually cheapens any credible cause with actual merit. That man has to go. Please.)

So here we are. And the question becomes: Did Don Imus deserved to get fired for his comments? Deserve? I don't know. But I do know this...he got fired. He got fired because his employer decided to fire him.

So is this a free speech issue? God, no. Never has been. Imus was never arrested for his comments. He was suspended and then he was fired. Which is his employer's right. I don't know about you guys but I've been fired before. Did I deserve to get fired? If you're asking me, then no, I didn't think I deserved to get fired. I'm not sure anyone does. I've heard people ask why he got fired before his employer's saw if his ratings were going to go down as if ratings had anything to do with a radio or television show. It's all about advertisers, folks. And when they don't buy, you die. Just ask the people behind the CBS show, Becker. For years it was rated in the top ten but CBS moved it all over the schedule, trying desperately to kill the show. Why? Because the people who watched the show weren't fiscally desirable. (Read: Old People).

So now the other question has to be, 'Why all of a sudden has Don Imus been raked over the coals?' Opie & Anthony have said things that are much, much worse. There's a lot of speculation. Some of it has been credited to Barack Obama and his bid for presidency. Some of it has been credited to our increasingly puritanical society. Pure speculation.

Here's the real reason and I want everyone to remember this:


That's it. Just pure and simple timing.

Every single person I know in this "biz", including myself, got there by pure and simple timing. Every single person. They just happened to know or bump into someone who knew someone, who knew someone. And boom...careers are made.

In the case of this Don Imus thing, someone who knew someone on the Rutgers team just happened to be watching that segment of the show. That someone just happened to know someone else who unfortunately knew Al Sharpton.

The rest is history.

I just think it's important for all of us to remember that as Writers, Directors, and Producers, what we say and what we write will always have consequences. In our careers there will always be someone who will inexplicably zero in on something you've written or said and you will become the target of political correctness. Personally, I've been accused of being a racist, a misogynist, and a homophobe. I am none of those things. But what makes America great is that there will always be someone who's Free to accuse of those things.