Integrity Matters
April 11, 2007

Don Imus a reflection of our culture

Question: (E-288)

Radio and television personality Don Imus has crossed the line of professionalism and propriety. He used cruel and destructive language to describe women college athletes. What should happen to him?


Imus hosts "Imus in the Morning," that has a history of coarse language, allowing and even encouraging caustic commentary. Having listened and watched his program, periodically, because some times I am awake at 3 a.m., some of his guests are quite interesting, well-informed and talented. He and his sidekicks are lively storytellers, sometimes pushing the limits of tastefulness, often stepping across the line in terms of graciousness.
Nonetheless, that is his prerogative and the choice of his listeners and viewers. To his credit, he helps children with cancer, supports health care for members of the military and supports the use of nontoxic cleaning supplies.

His employers will determine the seriousness of his latest blunder. The racially charged language he used is inappropriate and he will suffer the consequences.

However, the bigger issue is the callous and vicious language that permeates the airwaves in music and in interview-talk shows that feature yelling, screaming and even physical attacks. Jerry Springer, Rosie O'Donnell, Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly (most recently becoming red-faced and verbally aggressive with Geraldo Rivera) and other screamers and yellers have set a tone that the masses buy and encourage. Some rap lyrics encourage behaviors that are so far outside the limits of decency that name-calling would seem tame.

There was a time when the word "gross" meant that the topic and the way a subject was being discussed were to be stopped, out of respect for the audience. Today, extreme seems to many to be the admirable direction.

The "old-fashioned" word graciousness seems to have gotten lost. Too many ex-changes between individuals lack respect and discipline.

Such insensitivity can be observed in the rudeness of disrespectful reporters interviewing victims after a crisis such as an automobile accident, fire or even a death. Gory details are theirs to report to a public that often appears numb to the pain of others. Comedy is the current defense some are using to defend rude and abusive language.

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