Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rutgers Players A Silver Lining In The Cloud

It’s the topic de jour. It’s the flavor of the day. It’s also a reminder that sometimes, the younger they are, the smarter and more pure they are. And how our youth can make the experienced and supposedly wise seem foolish and petty in comparison.
The only group that has handled themselves with distinction in the Don Imus incident has been the Rutgers women’s basketball players. They had a level head about it Tuesday. They seemed willing to judge the incident on its own merits, not because of an agenda.
The rest involved are clearly driven by their own ambition. For Imus, it is saving his hide. It’s one thing to have humor. Or to discuss issues in a frank and honest manner, ignoring our overly politically correct world in the process. It’s another to use bigoted slurs. The line isn’t that thin. It’s obvious, and so many so-called shock jocks cross it too often. Imus got busted for it - and it was deserved. It probably should have happened long ago.
Imus has apologized profusely, but it rings hollow. You can’t help but doubt whether he is sincere. I don’t trust his motives. Do you?
But I feel the same way about Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. It seems as if they use these incidents as their own personal formats to vault themselves into the limelight. It doesn’t seem to matter what Imus says or does, they are going to get him. They won’t let up. In the process, they are playing into Imus’ hands. People don’t like bigoted comments, but they don’t like witch hunts, either. And they don’t appreciate pompous and self-righteous people telling them what to think. We’ll make up our own minds, thank you. Sharpton and Jackson are coming across as if they are on a witch hunt, and if they are not careful, Imus is going to end up garnering sympathy votes.
The transgressions against the girls were bad. But Imus wasn’t Bull Connor turning the dogs loose on the streets in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s. It is understandable the coach would be upset, but Rutgers Vivian Stringer acted like Joan of Arc burning at the stake Tuesday. She was overly dramatic with her comments. Her players were not. They were to the point. They have been the only ones to the point.
There can be good that comes out of this. One is a better understanding about sensitivity. Another is pointing to the sometimes abusive nature of political correctness. Women’s basketball can grow in stature because of the way Rutgers players are handling the situation. They seem like such good kids, don’t they? But whatever is driving this issue, must be for the right reasons.
Can anybody say what is driving Imus, Jackson and Sharpton on this issue is the right reasons, or their own personal agendas? It’s troubling. That the Rutgers women’s basketball team has handled themselves so well is encouraging. We can be thankful for that.


Blogger WiredTiger said...

Once again you've hit the nail on the head. It's sad that the controversy has most likely just resulted in increased publicity for Imus, Sharpton and Jackson.

11:02 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right, Pat. The players rose above everyone else. And they should have. What sets this apart from just a "racial slur" is that Imus was singling out individuals whom he did not know anything about and characterizing them in a derogatory manner. It would have been wrong no matter what. Comedians and others get away with this type of statement when they use the terms generically and not to a small targeted group (See Michael Richards attacking individuals, not using the slurs generically). The comedy of Rchard Pryor, Freddie Prinze, and the like point to this. They may have slandered a wide group in the process, but not an individual or identified entity.

(This from a guy whose nickname is Dennyho - but not for the reasons you may think!)

12:04 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said Dennyho - I never looked at the differences that way before. At first glance it appears totally hypocritical, but your insight makes me think twice.

Even with that said, I think the African American comedians and musicians are doing a disservice to their race by demeaning women of color like they do. It is ugly and mean-spirited humour, even though it appeals to our younger generations.

1:49 PM 
Anonymous jpleezy said...

Hey Pat,

I think the Rutgers players have handled themselves well. However, don't you think they also could have ignored this whole controversy. Why do they need to meet with Imus? Why do they need to go on national tv with a press conference and media interviews? What do they have to prove to Don Imus? They say they want him to get to know them and see if he still feels the same way about them. Why do they need Don Imus' opinion. I thought it was contradictory of their coach to say how this has stole their thunder and then to have a whole press conference. If you admit that he's some moron and say his opinion doesn't matter and celebrate your season instead, it seems that is a beter response blowing up the controversy even more.

2:48 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Wired Tiger,
Imus' stance on this reminds me of somebody who finds religion while he is sitting on death row. Sharpton and Jackson always jump the forefront on issues like this when it is easy for them to get in headlines, but aren't there enough for the real problems that often don't garner such attention.

3:30 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You're right about comedy. It is OK in the context you are talking about because often what happens is people actually laughing at themselves. When it is personal is when it gets hurtful. And Imus' comments were personal. He painted the Rutgers players in a very unflattering light - and they didn't deserve it. Actually, they deserved credit for their accomplishments, which were considerable. I think political correctness often runs amuck, but in this case, people were not of line in raising the issue and screaming about it. The problem comes with the witch hunt aspect of it. People have minds of their own. Let them decide.

3:31 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...


I think they wanted to ignore the comments, but the issue just took on a life of its own. While I don't like the self-serving methods of Sharpton and Jackson, there was a problem here. A bad one. Imus has only himself to blame for it. These women were, unfortunately, dragged into it through no fault of their own.

10:09 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

That's the double standard of this, unfortunately. But one of the good things that could from this is that it could to some changes in that regard.

10:10 AM 

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