Jackie Mason | August 2, 2006
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Michael Paul Cote | August 2, 2006
Hey come on, the guy has a problem (drinking) obviously, but who hasn't said something they regret while under the influence? Once again, someone in the spotlight is not allowed to be a human being. He's apologized, some have accepted some haven't, that's their right. If it were Joe Blow on the street, it wouldn't even have made the news.

Megan Baxter | August 2, 2006
I think there are three reasons why this will continue to get a lot of play. Not necessarily in order of importance but:

1) It's August, traditionally "silly season" for newspapers. Anything with celebrities is a godsend;

2) Mel Gibson has been accused several times before of anti-semitism, and this seems to prove those accusations. Also, those in positions where they have a public voice are generally held more responsible for what they say precisely because their presence guarantees a larger audience;

3) There is a fairly strong cultural tradition that "in vino veritas" - the idea that what we do while we're drunk is not an expression of something "we'd never do." Instead, when someone is intoxicated, the belief is that people are more likely to have lower inhibitions and do things they've always wanted to do, but normally have a voice of reason in the back of their head telling them not to. Actions while drunk are not thought to come out of nowhere, but sometimes, even to be an expression of our true, if not exactly complimentary, selves.

Scott Horowitz | August 2, 2006
I for one will never give another cent to this fucker!

Steve Dunn | August 2, 2006
I agree with Megan. Lots of people suspected Gibson was anti-Semitic even before the Passion movie, based on his father and his Mel's odd brand of Catholicism. When the movie came out, I thought the people calling it anti-Semitic went a bit overboard, since after all, the Bible DOES get fairly specific about how the whole thing went down and the rabbis aren't exactly portrayed as the good guys. How could a Passion movie not be "anti-Semitic" in that way? Plus, Gibson threw in several specific elements to ameliorate the blatantly anti-Semitic passions from years past (Jesus's followers refer to him as "rabbi," the Jews don't have horns, etc). I, for one, was inclined to give Gibson a pass and blame the Jewish activists for being too sensitive.


Now here's the guy blatantly making anti-Jewish statements for no apparent reason other than they happened to be on his mind. Kinda makes me re-evaluate the whole thing.

Kris Weberg | August 2, 2006
Yeah, I gotta say there's a difference between saying stupid things while drunk and saying outright racist things while drunk. Of course, I still remember the interview Gibson gave to Barbara Walters in which he described the systematic mass murder of European Jews as just one set of casualties among others during the second World War. He also carefully avoided ever assigning a number to that, by the way, instead moving straight to the numbers related to combat and occupation-related deaths in the Ukraine. That somehow earned him a pass from a lot of people, since he was supposedly acknowledging the Holocaust.

Of course, the description of the deaths of Jewish people as war casualties rather than as the result of a systematic, industrialized slaughter and the refusal to pin a number to it should ring a bell. Most Holocaust deniers aren't stupid enough to claim that no Jews died during the war; they just deny that there was ever a "Final Solution" plan put into action, or that Hitler himself never authorized it, or that the people who died in the camps weren't gassed but died in shellings and escape attempts...the list of sick rationalizations and denials is endless, because the sick mind never stops trying to worm its way around the evidence. David Irving, recently convicted and jailed for denial in Austria, where it's a crime, made similar arguments in his books. Holocaust denial isn't just big-scale claims that the atrocity never happened, it's also picking at details to claim -- no, to LIE -- that the Nazis weren't involved in a deliberate program of genocide.

Also, while the BIble does portray the Pharasaic priesthood as the drving social force behind the Crucifixion, it's the Romans who carry it out...and much, much more importantly, it's the whole sinful human race that's genuinely to blame. I know that you know this, Steve, but I figure that with Gibsons out there, it can't hurt to say it once in awhile.

Steve Dunn | August 2, 2006
Well, the stuff about the whole sinful human race is theology. If you read the gospels as a story, it's pretty clear the Pharisees took down Jesus. There are many stories throughout the gospels about rabbis challenging Jesus and being completely blown away by his outright heresy (reasonably enough, I mean, the guy WAS claiming to be God). This was the major social problem with Jesus, and it bothered the Jews a lot more than the Romans.

Pilate tried to offer up the murderer Barabbas for crucifixion instead of Jesus, but the crowd demanded that Jesus be killed. So Pilate gave the order and then famously "washed his hands" of the whole thing. While it's accurate to say the Romans "carried it out," I think the gospels are very clear about the who really made it happen.

And if that's not enough, there's plenty of graphic and blatant anti-Jewish sentiment in subsequent books of the New Testament, reflective of the fissures between Jesus's burgeoning church and the adherents of pre-Messianic Judaism. The apostles, in other words, most assuredly "blamed the Jews for killing Jesus," not the Romans.

All your points are well taken, though. For me, this is a revelation, like, "Wow, Mel Gibson really does hate Jews." I'm the type who always wants to give a guy the benefit of the doubt, so I wanted to believe him when he kept reassuring everyone when the movie came out. I think that some Jews and other minorities believe there's more animus in the world against them than really exists... but then something like this happens and it makes me realize I could be the one who is missing something.

All the clues about Mel Gibson were right there for everyone to see. Plenty of people saw them and sounded the alarm. Sometimes I'm the one who needs to get a clue instead of always telling minorities to lighten up.

Related note, I analyzed the anti-Jewish elements of the Gibson film and other passion plays on my blog a couple years ago, here...

Michael Paul Cote | August 2, 2006
I agree that people in the spotlight get more of an oportunity to voice their opions to a larger audience, but I don't believe that Gibson called a press conference when he was stopped for DUI. His comments leaked out somehow.

John E Gunter | August 2, 2006
That's journalistic sensationalism at its best, Mike!

Scott Hardie | August 3, 2006
All weekend, I ignored the Gibson news stories because the headlines only mentioned the DUI arrest, and if I had a nickel for every celebrity-in-legal-trouble story that I cared about, I'd be broke. It wasn't until several days into the scandal that I actually read about his hateful words and had the same holy-shit realization about him that Steve did.

What a bastard. I don't see how being drunk makes much difference; could you imagine him getting drunk and shouting about the "fucking blacks" or "fucking Mexicans"? The only thing that lessens what he said is that he had just been stopped for driving drunk at 90mph, and saying hateful things doesn't compare to putting other peoples' lives at risk like that. One columnist's source said it was a suicide attempt, but that doesn't excuse it either.

Scott and I might not give him another cent, but it appears his career isn't over. Studio heads have begun talking:

Mandalay Entertainment Chairman Peter Guber said that any attempt to blackball Gibson would "fly in the face of what free speech is. ... Anybody trying to prevent anybody from being gainfully employed is distasteful to me." Similarly producer Lynda Obst told the newspaper, "This could be an opportunity where we say to anti-Semites that Jews don't boycott. ... I don't like any forms of blacklist."
On a lighter note, am I the only one kind of relieved to have an excuse not to sit through Apocalypto now?

Aaron Shurtleff | August 3, 2006
Scott, you needed an excuse not to sit through Apocalypto?! ;)

I actually still haven't seen Passion, and I probably won't, but that's got nothing to do with this. I think a huge mistake has been made (OK, several huge mistakes), and I'm more interested in what's going on overseas than in how much of an idiot Mel Gibson is. I don't want to sound like I'm giving this guy a pass, but who hasn't heard some drunk a$$hole spouting off the most vile of ideas? How many idiots jump behind the wheel of their car after a night of drinking, and we never hear about it? Mike's right: It's only because he's famous that this is getting so much attention.

John E Gunter | August 3, 2006
Plus, like Scott said, what about the people he put at risk driving drunk, beyond putting himself at risk and the effect it would have had on his family if he had killed himself and/or someone else?

I'm sorry there are people out there who hate others, I feel that's why we have so much trouble in the world, but I really don't think that's as big a deal as what he could have done had he hit somebody. Sure, what he said was hateful and nasty, but the do you know what happens when you hit something/someone going that speed?

What will really be a crime, but happens quite a bit is if he gets away with driving drunk!

Case in point, Reginald Roundtree, a news caster in our area was arrested for drunk driving. Since he's a celebrity, he ended up getting charged with reckless driving instead of drunk driving!

Excuse me! The man should have faced the same kind of result for his action that an other person would face, but because of his status, he got away with it! So Mel should get the book thrown at him for what he did, not what he said!

Scott Horowitz | August 3, 2006
I don't know if this article makes me feel better, or worse.

Gibson is a bigot

I personally would love to start a Jewish boycott of Mel Gibson, but my brethren in Hollywood seem to be pussies

Scott Hardie | August 3, 2006
So Rob Schneider has pledged never to work with Mel Gibson? I'd say Mel's career is safe after all.

Kris Weberg | August 4, 2006
My parents are actually throwing out all their old Gibson DVDs over this incident.

Scott Hardie | August 7, 2006
I can't help but feel a little sorry for the police department involved in this. They go just a little easy on Mel, they get accused of going easy on him because he's a celebrity. They go just a little hard on him, they get accused of trying to make a famous example of him because of a vendetta against celebrities. There's no way through this for the except to keep their heads down, do their jobs, and take their lumps.

As for why this is getting so much attention, to me it's because Gibson survived earlier allegations of anti-Semitism that many people, myself included, brushed off as unlikely. If he had said anything else offensive (like "fucking niggers" as above), or If a different celebrity had said this, it still would have been news, but only a fraction as much. Not to confuse this with the pedophilia discussion, but after Michael Jackson has maintained his innocence through years of thinly-veiled societal accusations of child molestation and all of his fans had stuck by him, imagine what it would be like for law enforcement to catch him in the act of having sex with a kid? Maybe that's a bad example because a lot of people (myself included) figure Jackson's damn guilty and there just wasn't enough evidence to convict him, but it would be the same jaw-dropper for his fans that Mel's anti-Semitism has for those of us who figured he was above it.

This story will lose its heat within a few days, but I'm enjoying the schadenfreude while it lasts. Gibson conflated himself with God during the making of Passion and passed judgment on lots of people over the years, and now the righteous man has his pants down. Oops!

Jackie Mason | August 10, 2006
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Scott Hardie | August 10, 2006
In the news: Robin Williams seeking treatment for alcoholism. Gee, what coincidental timing. Imagine the string of profanities he'd have strung together in Mel's place.

John E Gunter | August 10, 2006
But I wonder if Robin would have been as apologetic as Mel was?

Aaron Shurtleff | August 10, 2006
Does Robin Williams have any kind of history of racism or any other -ism? I mean, if someone tries to improve themselves by getting help, is it right that we immediately assume it's because he wants to avoid a Mel Gibson-esque outburst? I don't know Robin Williams history that well (nor did I know, other than the Passion comments, that Mel Gibson had such anti-semitism allegations previously), but I don't know of any reason to jump on his back now. Not every alcoholic is a bigot, eh?

John E Gunter | August 10, 2006
I know Williams has joked in the past using different voice types associated with the different races. Do I think he's being racist? Not really, he's just being funny. But of course, I also think that the racism card gets played way to often these days.

I know bad things have been done to the races in the past, but until we can accept everyone no matter what race, religion or sexual orientation, we'll never get along. I think part of the problem lies in people making a stink about those issues. Yes, we need to watch for them, yes we need to make sure things from history are not repeated!

But, if you keep looking for someone to be abusing you, whether it's real or not, you'll see it if you're looking for it, whether it's real or not. More to my point, if it's not and you're seeing it, who's at fault? Generally we'll blame the person who is perceived to be a racist, even if they're not due to the fact that everyone has to make sure that kind of behavior never happens again!

Scott Hardie | August 11, 2006
Did I say Robin Williams was a bigot? I think he just wants to avoid a public embarrassment of any sort, plus actual help with his alcoholism of course.

Good points, John. I like Morgan Freeman's approach:

Freeman has come out publicly against the celebration of Black History Month and does not participate in any related events, saying that "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history." He says the only way to end racism is to stop talking about it, and he notes that there is no "white history month." Freeman says "I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man."

Denise Sawicki | August 11, 2006
I like Morgan Freeman's point too. On a similar note, if my brother-in-law read this page he would be talking about stuff like the Violence Against Women Act and why there is no Violence Against Men Act. But then there'd probably wind up being an unpleasant discussion :P.

Aaron Shurtleff | August 11, 2006
So...what? Sexism is OK, but not racism? Huh? Do you think acts of violence aren't commited against men by women?

But seriously, it's not entirely without merit for discussion. I'm not suggesting it (since there's already an indication that it will end up ugly), but it is at least worth pondering the idea.

I'll shut up now.

Anna Gregoline | August 11, 2006
Not worth it for me - either pondering the idea, or talking about it here, cause I think it would get ugly quick.

John E Gunter | August 11, 2006
Thanks for the quote from Morgan Freeman, Scott! I like that he has that approach and not because his thoughts mirror mine! :-D

Course, I've always liked him and his stand on things.

Hopefully, we'll get enough other public figures going in that direction and get a change!

Hopefully, Robin Williams is actually seeking help. Alcoholism is not an easy thing to get over and the biggest part of working toward getting over it is admitting you have a problem!

Anna Gregoline | August 11, 2006
It's not like drug addiction is a foreign thing for Robin Williams. He's been battling that for a really long while. I hope it sticks for him.

Scott Hardie | August 12, 2006
I'm willing to discuss, though I doubt I have much to offer besides clichéd points about how VAWA violates the founding principles of the National Organization for Women that supported it. I doubt Morgan would care for it either.

Kris Weberg | August 14, 2006
To clarify my misplaced point from the other thread, I'm arguing that the social and the legal aren't on the same timescale, and that as a result sometimes the law needs to go farther to address an inequality in the social by providing a working counterbalance for a time.

That said, I support "hate crime" legislation on a different ground, in that I feel hatred for a particular group or class of persons generally ought to be treated as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. I don't see it as particularly different than the special sentencing guidelins in many areas for gang-related activity, in which the DA needn't prove conspiracy to get a harsher sentence so long as the accused in part of a gang.

John E Gunter | August 15, 2006
I agree that the law needs to deal harsher with individuals that commit crimes due to hatred or bigotry, I just think society needs to be less obsessed with those same issues. Acceptance should be the policy, not tolerance!

Granted, not everyone will be interested in that, especially those individuals who commit hatred crimes, but I think if we were to stop obsessing over outbursts like Mel's we might just get most people to accept each other.

Scott Hardie | August 16, 2006
Isn't the reason we go harder on gang activity, and have RICO laws providing harsher sentences for organized crime, that we're trying to eliminate gangs and mobsters as much as possible? Bigotry is a terrible thing, but it's awfully un-American of us to try to stomp out someone's opinions with a law. I hope I'm not the only American who cringes whenever he reads about a Holocaust denier going to prison in Europe just for speaking their beliefs, however repugnant.

(In looking up examples of those laws in Wikipedia, I think I found a candidate for best article title ever.)

Jackie Mason | August 16, 2006
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Scott Hardie | August 16, 2006
If you specify target="_blank" in the link code snippet, it will open in a blank new window. (Some people prefer target="new" but that will only spawn a new window the first time; every time after that keeps opening in that same window.) I'll add that to the style guide.

Lack of opening in new windows bugs me too. I was flabbergasted earlier this year when I read a semi-authoritative web style manual that claimed, year after year after year, that one of the worst web faux pas was making your site's links open in new windows. They say it clutters a user's computer and takes up system resources and frustrates users by "taking control" of their navigation for them. Wtf? In my experience, which includes a career in this stuff, standard web etiquette says links to other pages on the same site open in the same window, but links to other sites open in new windows. I'm frustrated when I pass to another site, finish reading, and close the window expecting to see the previous site still there, and instead I'm staring at the desktop because it's gone.

Amy Austin | August 16, 2006
Ditto -- something I've been meaning to bring up, too.

Megan Baxter | August 16, 2006
It vaguely irritates me when links open in new windows, but that's because I use tabbed browsing, so if I want it to open separately, I do that as I click it. If I just click on the link by itself, I'm done with the original page and don't mind if it's gone. So when a link opens a new page, I have to go to the new page, close it, and go back to the link and open it in another tab so everything's more manageable.

John E Gunter | August 16, 2006
OT: The standard proceedure here at work is to open any link that leaves our site in a new window. They really want you staying on our site, so it'll be in the background if you ever close the new window.

It's interesting what you say about the semi-authoritative site though Scott. Guess they're bending to popular user trend standards instead of industry standards.

Jackie Mason | August 16, 2006
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Lori Lancaster | August 16, 2006
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Scott Hardie | August 19, 2006
I understand that some people prefer tabbed browsing, but when it first came out, I was mystified by how apeshit people went over it, like it was the best thing to hit the Internet since image files. Me, I have numerous web pages open at once and I like to be able to select them from the taskbar with a single click, not to have to click on the browser and then choose them from a list. I'd think it's because I'm a web developer but most of the developers I know are Firefox devotees.

Megan Baxter | August 21, 2006
I don't understand what you mean by click on the browser and choose them from a list. I open a new tab by holding down the control key as I click normally on a link. (Or the apple key if I'm using Safari at home). It doesn't take any longer than any other kind of click.

I know the evangelical passion though - once I got used to Firefox and Safari, using anything else makes my shoulders tense up because I keep trying to open a new tab and it doesn't work!

Lori Lancaster | August 21, 2006
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Amy Austin | August 21, 2006
I know the evangelical passion though...

I find it funny that this discussion has devolved from The Passion of Mel Gibson to The Passion of Tabbed Browsing... ;-D

Scott Hardie | August 22, 2006
I mean that when I'm using a different program like FTP or email or notepad, and I want to switch back to the web page I was reading (usually several open at once), I prefer to click straight to that browser window in my taskbar, instead of having to click on the browser and then click on the tab from a list of the tabs open.

No taskbar grouping option for me; I turned that nuisance off so that it will show all windows separately no matter how many there are.

John E Gunter | August 22, 2006
I like the alt tab option for switching between windows! With a browser running tabs, you have to control tab to get between those windows. Sure that's not to difficult a change, but it still means I can't just alt tab to get to the next window. Multiple browser instances allow that!

Plus, if the browser crashes for some reason, you only loose that instance, not all of your tabs.

Scott Hardie | August 22, 2006
[Insert joke about Firefox never crashing compared to IE.]

Scott Horowitz | August 22, 2006
Actually, there's a plugin for firefox called googlesync. If your browser crashes, it can restore all open tabs. As well as sync your firefox across multiple computers (bookmarks,history,etc)

Lori Lancaster | August 22, 2006
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John E Gunter | August 22, 2006
I wonder what else that Google Sync syncs?

Jackie Mason | April 9, 2007
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Tony Peters | April 10, 2007
Imus was the talk of the office yesterday, one quote that stood out was "another dumb white person trying to sound ghetto" I tried to argue that words either can't be used by anyone or no one should be up in arms and everyone should be able to use them....I failed miserably. That Al (the next great ambulance chaser after Jesse Jackson) Sharpton doesn't have the balls of someone like say Bill Cosby to bring his own community to task for the same behavior but jumps up every time someone outside it speaks ill is just hypocritical. Personally I believe Imus to be a moron and this incident just reinforces the fact ...he essentially behaved like a rich white suburban kid who listens to Eminem and thinks he's a gangster and like them looks foolish.

Anna Gregoline | April 10, 2007
I'm glad this is a topic only because I felt like I was going crazy reading this story in the paper this morning. Yes, the radio show has the right to suspend him if they don't like his actions. Yes, he should apologize for offending people if that's what he wants to do.

But why this ENDLESS chastisement for saying something that offends people? Jackie brings a good point about rude shows on television like South Park, and in addition to that, we have free speech in this country! I can't believe the, "There must be consequences" and "He needs to face retribution" from anyone who wants face to face time. Why the continuous apologies - why are they necessary after the initial apology? What is even wanted in these situations?

People need to stop endlessly apologizing for these things. Make a good faith effort, and then back out of the witch hunt. It's amazing to me that this country feels they can berate someone for months over a single comment.

Kris Weberg | April 10, 2007
The real scandal is that most people think of white-on-minority racism in this country as a contained problem, or even a dead letter, so when someone high-profile says something that smacks of that kind of racism it shocks plenty of sensibilities and produces a reaction that's as exaggerated as the complacency that makes the initial comment so "shocking." There's plenty of casual racism out there on all sides, really, but it's much easier to excoriate a public figure for revealing their own racism than to acknowledge the degree to which everyday people trade in stereotypes.

Steve Dunn | April 10, 2007
The real scandal is that it is widely viewed as appropriate to atone for one's racist public comments by groveling to Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton.

These guys have the moral authority of my left butt cheek.

Anna Gregoline | April 10, 2007
Absolutely right, Steve. Hypocrites, both of them.

Amy Austin | April 10, 2007
I'm dying to know who has the moral authority of your right one, Steve...

Scott Hardie | April 11, 2007
At first I didn't understand the outrage, since it's the job of a shock jock to say outrageous things on the air, from raunchy hosts like Howard Stern to political hosts like Rush Limbaugh. It's very ironic work, trying to be as repulsive as possible in an attempt to attract more listeners. But then I remembered how I would also love to see Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh yanked from the air for being so aggressively and consistently offensive, and that put it in perspective. (And I'm not against Limbaugh because I'm liberal; Randi Rhodes is much worse.)

I don't think South Park gets enough credit for being a satire. It's offensive because it has points to make, and good ones. Consider the episode they just did on this very topic: (link) And if you think that's not offensive enough in satirizing an aspect of our society, check out the episode after it in the sidebar; NSFW.

Hopefully, I'm not as alone on this one as the OJ thing, but Richards doesn't strike me as a genuine racist. By his own admission before the incident, he's not a professional comedian and he gets horribly nervous on stage, and I can imagine him being overtaken by the pressure to say something outrageous just to get a laugh, even more so as the heckling continued. People say racist, sexist, offensive things all the time just to score an easy laugh (see: shock jocks mentioned above). Gibson is different because he had indications of anti-Semitism going back years, plus the whole in-vino-veritas thing. And Isaiah Washington seems clueless.

Amy Austin | April 11, 2007
You're not alone, Scott -- I watched the Richards video for the very first time last night, and I think it was just a case of a really annoying heckler, combined with the pressure you mention. Personally, I agree that this cracker took one for being ineloquent.

Steve Dunn | April 11, 2007
I won't let Richards off the hook so easily. There's nothing clever or witty about what he said. He just screamed an epithet over and over. I'm not saying that I think Richards "is a racist," whatever that might mean, and I don't think it matters. He stepped outside the bounds of what I consider appropriate behavior. I don't think his statements should be illegal, and I damn sure don't think he should apologize to Jesse Jackson, but I think it's appropriate for him to be criticized and for him to apologize for being an idiot.

Imus... I didn't hear the context of his remark. All I know is that he used the phrase "nappy headed hoes." It seems like a racially charged remark, at the very least.

As to Mel Gibson, I think the preponderance of the evidence leads to the conclusion that he is a straight-up anti-Semite.

Amy Austin | April 11, 2007
There's nothing clever or witty about what he said.

I didn't disagree with this part -- just agreeing that he caved to a heckler in bad form, and I'm pretty sure that it was probably humiliating enough for him without all the "JJ/Sharpton" crap that ensued, because you're right -- he was an idiot.

Amy Austin | April 11, 2007
Scott, I think I've found a glitch here... I cleared this discussion, but because it was a "Saved Discussion" (haha) from a while back, I guess it's not behaving right -- there is no button to clear it now, and it continues to appear in the current (uncleared) discussions box on the home page.

Edit: Hm. I thought maybe I was mistaken, but there is something there... I just don't know what exactly.

Aaron Shurtleff | April 11, 2007
That's part of the "problem" (I don't think it's really a problem, though) with free speech, though. If someone has the right to say "nappy-headed hos", you have to let everyone else who wants to say, "That's horrible to say. You should be fired." You can't (well, I guess you can, but you shouldn't) support one person's right to say something, but berate another person's right to say that what the first person said is ignorant, and they should be punished, if that's what they believe.

Now whatever "punishment" is required is no one's business but the people involved. I wasn't offended, and I don't care how they work this out. Whatever.

Amy Austin | April 11, 2007
It's not the "berating" of the next person's right to criticize... it's a criticism of the forming of a line of the next person and the next person and the next person to bitch-slap the first person over and over and over again. You remember that scene with the nun in Airplane??? Yeah. That's what I'm talking about here.

Tony Peters | April 11, 2007
the use of the phrase was said in context to the difference between the Tenn. womens basketball team being attractive compared to the "nappy headed ho's" who play for Rutgers. The same phraseology is used a hundred times a day on most rap/hip-hop radio stations countrywide....it isn't racist there so it shouldn't be for Imus and the fact that I feel the need to defend Don Imus irritates me more than anything else about this whle incident.

Jackie Mason | April 11, 2007
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Steve Dunn | April 11, 2007
In the context that Tony describes, I find the phrase "nappy headed hoes" less offensive than it would have been in isolation. Context really is everything.

One of my all-time pet peeves is the notion that certain people are "allowed" to use words and make jokes, and other people aren't allowed. Race is an obvious example, but there are many others.

Amy Austin | April 11, 2007
Some think Richards did not cross that line.

Again... I want to be clear that I am not saying that Richards didn't "cross a line" -- he quite obviously did. However, I think the line was really about good taste more than racism. I think that he was dangling by a very frustrated thread and had a stupid outburst based on experiential information, not that he hates black people. What do I mean by that? Well...

At the risk of painting myself a racist (I am not, and one of my very best, closest long-time friends is a black man -- who also happens to be married to a white woman), I will say this -- and perhaps Tony will relate to it, too: when I was still in the Navy, it was an EVERYDAY thing to find yourself irritated by a very loud group of black people. The enlisted galley is not a quiet place, by any means -- high-school cafeteria-type tables arranged close enough to pick your neighbor's nose and read his mind -- but still... there is a modicum of manners involved in that you don't generally hear anything more than a low din akin to the aforementioned environment. However... every so often, you find yourself Really Agitated by the Really Loud "conversations" taking place at one Really Hard to Ignore table (or two!), and Yes... 99 times out of 100... the individuals seated there are black. Causing one to wonder -- quite often aloud -- just why this is. In fact, on a couple of occasions I have found myself So Irritated by this behavior and by competing to be heard in my own conversation, that I would choose to engage in some choice of "crazy white girl" tactic: laughing at an equally audible and over-zealous level at the idiots so that they -- and everyone else in the place -- knew exactly what was meant by it was a favorite... as was telling/yelling to my meal companions on their 2nd or 3rd repeat, "I DON'T KNOW -- THESE FUCKING HYENAS & JACKALS WON'T SHUT UP LONG ENOUGH FOR ME TO HEAR YOU!!!" as I glared at the offending party. I would often receive reciprocating glares and/or derisive laughter for it, but the volume would usually subside and/or the party disperse... which was all I really wanted (and simply asking politely seldom works).

So... a) I can imagine exactly how Michael Richards might have been feeling about the rudeness in the "cheap seats" (as specified by the article), and b) he obviously didn't handle it in a manner one would expect of a public figure, let alone a comic who ought to know better how to deal with hecklers, and c) why the fuck is it, exactly, that this sort of behavior prevails without mention of how rude and where are the manners of these people??? I'm certainly not saying that all black people are this way, any more than I would say that you only ever see Mexicans in cars in groups of 10 or more (though, in San Diego this is practically true, and nobody ever has any problem with Carlos Mencia or Dave Chappelle making these same observations!) -- I'm just saying that, as white people, it is definitely true that we are held to a different standard of behavior in these situations. It's just too bad for Michael Richards that he would have needed his TV writers in order to be able to summon Kramer for a comedic shutdown of his hecklers.

(And before anyone launches into any socioeconomic reasons for these behaviors, let me also say that I am well aware and frequently the one explaining it to others... but even the most impoverished of mothers can still -- and often does -- teach her children manners -- so what gives, and why aren't more people (like Bill Cosby) calling to the carpet on it???)

Jackie Mason | April 11, 2007
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Aaron Shurtleff | April 11, 2007
Amy, don't worry about being thought racist, I've already made myself homophobic in a different topic, and people seem to be mostly forgiving around here! :P

But anyways, it seems to me that everyone wants to say their piece, especially those who shouldn't have any say in that ordeal. Imus said his apologies. Fine. The Rutgers B-Ball team expressed their hurt feelings. Fine. Prominent African-American leaders expressed their disgust at a comment which they considered racist. Their opinion, their right to state that (and, yeah, I understand that the African-American community has a lot of leaders, and no one of them want to miss their chance to bitch.) And even the prominent feminists are up in arms about this being distinctly misogynistic, and they want their right to speak up, too. We have to let those people have their say..it's what they are about...in my opinion. It's the rest of the people that, I think, need to shut their pie holes! ;)

Kris Weberg | April 12, 2007
At least part of Imus's problem is that he's not your typical shock jock, since he seems to get top-flight journalists and major political figures from both parties on his show fairly regularly. Unlike Limbaugh, who is unabashedly partisan, and Stern, whose major concern is entertainment, Imus has spent a lot of time setting himself up as a halfway legitimate commentator and pundit. That's no small part of why his remarks are getting so many people so hot and bothered, and why Obama and Hillary have declared that they won't appear on his show from here on out.

As tto your pet peeve, Steve, it's unfortunate but true that context matters, and where racial slurs are concerned, I'm not sure quite how the race of the speaker can fail to be part of a meaning-generating context. It's not so much about being "allowed" or disallowed as it is about there being contexts in which the words will carry some offensive charge and contexts in which they won't. That some of those contexts are partially race-based is a matter to take up with history.

Tony Peters | April 12, 2007
I saw Rose Mcgowan on the View (I'm working nights for a few days) and she quoted Sharpton a few times in protest to his status as the "Black person to apologize to" and for lack of a better term he certainly is the pot calling the ketle black. I had forgotten the number of times that he has publicly made racist statements in the past. And yet he is the first guy to point the finger when it directed at blacks. Barrack Obama didn't seem to have a problem with the whole thing until he was told that it was becoming a Black issue due to people like Sharpton. But then as half white/half Kenyan man he's not African American enough for most of the Aftican Americans in the USA....
As for the point that Amy brought up well I'll just say that I chicken'd out, most of the time I didn't eat on the mess decks and when I did I ate in the 1st class mess which had noise rules (except during March Madness). I also had an advantage that Amy didn't in that I was part of Ships force Security for a year so when I spoke people did what I said. However my biggest irritation in the Navy is with the Supply Mafia which is rife with racism. I've been a minority a number of times for more than 1/4 of my life and understand it, Haole in Hawaii, Gaijin in Japan, non-Filipino in Guam to name a few times. It sucks but that's life I don't expect it to change, and I certainly don't expect an apology

Mexican's....well they are a whole nuther issue and it's rather odd from my POV. I have a Mexican sister inlaw who's family is about as conservative as they come about immigration. But then through her I have discovered that most Mexicans who come to the USA legally are. They feel rightly (IMHO) that you need to embrace your new country and do things the right way not scam the system....This attitude is in direct opposition to my white, liberal father-inlaw who is all about the entitlements regardless of your citizenship status. Carlos Mencia and Dave Chappel just says things about the country that everyone wishes they could say.

Lori Lancaster | April 12, 2007
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Steve Dunn | April 12, 2007
As tto your pet peeve, Steve, it's unfortunate but true that context matters, and where racial slurs are concerned, I'm not sure quite how the race of the speaker can fail to be part of a meaning-generating context.

I absolutely agree that context matters, and I don't think it's unfortunate at all. My pet peeve is when race is used as a blunt instrument, per se determinant of context. In this instance, it's obvious that a black radio DJ could have made the exact same statement without ruffling a single feather. If Chris Rock said it, the Rutgers players themselves probably would have laughed.

In regard to the n-word, I think it's appropriate to evaluate whether the term is used as an epithet or in some other way, such as a salutation. I am not saying that the speaker's race is irrelevant - I'm just saying it's not the beginning AND end of the analysis.

The law, incidentally, is way behind society on this issue. There are controlling legal precedents stating that the n-word is, per se, racially hostile language. But every American past middle school age knows - knows - that's not true.

Where you say that context is "partially race based" I completely agree.

Kris Weberg | April 13, 2007
I'm not a supporter of any of the media personalities involved in this whole mess. Sharpton and Jackson have been involved in plenty of, let's charitably say "dubious" media spectacles, and Imus's record of similar (and stronger) statements suggests that he's hardly the victim of an innocent slip of the tongue or of a systematic misinterpretation of one isolated comment. The news reporters and former guests standing by him are standing by someone who has a track record of using racially-charged language. That recordf also suggests that the networks who've fired Imus don't really care one way or the other what he broadcasts using their transmitters until it impacts revenue; that's how their business works, after all, but the pose of moral outrage in their press releases is just part of the spin game.

People like there to be a good guy and a bad guy, but I'm not seeing any good guys here.

Steve Dunn | April 14, 2007
People like there to be a good guy and a bad guy, but I'm not seeing any good guys here.

Well, oddly enough, it seems to have highlighted the accomplishment of the Rutgers women's basketball team. They're getting the props they deserve, at least.

Tony Peters | April 14, 2007
But they were still losers....I mean look at the shit Ohio State got for losing a national championship not once but twice this year to Florida. Yet because of the hype surrounding Don Imus's politically incorrect but accurate description the ugly ducklings from Rutgers are getting more press time than the attractive Lady Vols (comparatively speaking).

EDIT: BTW I took Imus's comments to be "you lost and you're ugly"...at least that was the way it sounded to me until the media cut it and presented it out of context for all to condem

Kris Weberg | April 14, 2007
It's fairly hard to take Imus's comments as just meaning that, Tony. He did, for whatever reason, choose a rather racially-charged phrase...and I'm not exactly sure what "nappy-headed hos" and "they're ugly and they lost a basketball game" have to do with one another. Even in the midst of a conversation about how Rutgers women's b-ball sucks, it's a bit out of place.

Tony Peters | April 14, 2007
Kris have you heard the original context of the comments??? It was in discussion about the Womens NCAA championship game and the fact that in comparison to the Lady Vols the Rutgers women were not (and still aren't) very attractive. The comment wasn't intended to be racist though it was a sexist it's also true. The problem is that it was "sound bite'd" almost immediately and the rest of the skit (yes it was part of a larger semi-comedy sports presentation as most sports was on his show) was excluded by the media in it's rush to show "ugly racism". Imus made a mistake, a foolish one and he will pay for it with his wallet but I sincerely doubt that he did it out of some deep seated racism.

Kris Weberg | April 14, 2007
Tony...what exactly did Imus choose to focus on in calling them ugly? It's a horrible choice of words, without a doubt, and there's just not much in the way of context -- especially the context you describe -- that can save him from that.

But let's look at the whole bit from which Imus' quote is being "unfairloy" excerpted:

IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between -- a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.
ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night -- seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.
IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --
McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.
IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.
McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.
IMUS: Yeah.
McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes -- that movie that he had.

Looking at Imus's comments in the context of his sidekick McGuirk's, yeah, i ca see exactly why people would ascribe racism to Imus here. "Jigaboo" is a pretty racist term, period; the reference is to a Spike Lee movie in which a white basketball team uses it as a racial slur to taunt a black team they're playing against. And yes, I know, Imus himself didn't say that word...but the guy he banters with, the guy he worked the bit out with, and the guy he picked to be his on-air sidekick sure seems to have no illusions about just what is being said here.

And then we have this, from some years back:

[From a tape of the 60 Minutes program as it appeared in a transcript of "On the Media", a program on National Public Radio]
MIKE WALLACE: You told Tom ANDERSON, the producer, in your car coming home that Bernard McGuirk is there to do "nigger" jokes.
DON IMUS: Well I've n-- I never use that word.
TOM ANDERSON: I'm right here.
DON IMUS: Did I use that word?
TOM ANDERSON: I recall you using that word.
DON IMUS: Oh, okay, well then I used that word, but I mean-- of course that was an off the record conversation-- [LAUGHTER]
MIKE WALLACE: The hell it was!

And stuff like this:

"I remember when I first had [the Blind Boys of Alabama] on a few years ago, how the Jewish management at whatever, whoever we work for, CBS, or whatever it is, were bitching at me about it. [...] I tried to put it in terms that these money-grubbing bastards could understand."

"Boner-nosed … beanie-wearing Jewboy." [On Howard Kurtz, a frequent guest]

And more...but really, let's not pretend that Imus didn't, at the least, deliberately use racial humor in his radio show. I'm not really interested in arguing about whether Don Imus is "really" a racist, or if he deserved to lose his job over his comments, or any of that. But let's please not pretend that the language he chose wasn't chosen precisely because it has racial connotations, or that his remark wasn't directed at the race of many of the Rutgers players.

Tony Peters | April 14, 2007
To me what he said felt more like an old man trying to be hip than a racist, regardless he failed miserably at the former and came off as the latter due to the media. I honestly can't stand him so the fact that he is off the air doesn't bother me so much but the reason he was removed from the airwaves smacks of hypocrisy. And the biggest drum beater for his removal, Al Sharpton, has many more instances of racism in his background and unlike Imus, his actions and mouth have put him in jail (at least once as a felon which should exclude him as a presidential candidate).

Steve Dunn | April 14, 2007
Wow, I hadn't seen the transcript. To me it looks like the sidekick was the offensive one.

Tony Peters | April 14, 2007
you know the fact that they are both white is the big problem with this whole thing....worse things are said by non white DJ's, comedians and rap artists every day and it gets no notice but if a "cracker without cred" says something well "It's racism I say racism"....

Amy Austin | April 14, 2007
I agree with you, Steve... reading the comments in whole, the sidekick was the one who raised *my* eyebrows! (But I guess Imus is ultimately responsible for even his sidekick's commentary... though I'm not sure what I think about that -- and like Aaron, don't really care anyway. Stupid radio is stupid radio, and I don't listen or really care if/why it gets removed.)

Kris Weberg | April 15, 2007
The irony here is that Imus would likely not have gotten in so much trouble had he not managed to legitimate his show. Once he started taking on the big-shot politicians and journos as guests, it was probably time to dump most of the shock-jock stuff to avoid precisely this situation.

Jackie Mason | April 15, 2007
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