New Toons: Operation Solar Freedom, Imus/Coulter, plus some thoughts on Imus
- So yeah, nasty hate speech. Totally disgusting, worthy of outrage and protest and probation. But I don't know about firing, and not because I'm worried about Imus' right to get paid $10 million a year for hate speech. I'm worried about the right of left-wingers and progressives and feminists and anti-racists and LGBT people and humanists to push the envelope on the other side without being accused of, say "anti-Catholic" or "anti-Christian" bigotry.
- I'm not crying for Imus, or for Ann Coulter for losing newspapers whose editors should have had the good judgment never to run her column. My concern is about these kind of instant massive firing mobilizations in general, which I worry can make it dangerous for left-wingers and progressives to try to make a living pushing the envelope in over-the-top art/comedy/commentary/satire without worrying the rightwing attack dogs will take some out-of-context comment or image they made and turn it into a “destroy him/her!” campaign. By using these same tactics, I think we might be justifying them. And provoking the righties into going after leftwing commentators for “revenge."
- Sure we can clearly see the distinction between Imus’s hate speech and, for example, the firing of Bill Maher after 9/11 for making a comment that didn't fit the gung-ho patriotic Bush-can-do-no-wrong atmosphere at the time. But the rightwing attack dogs are all about playing the “gotcha” game, and they are happy to cry “hate speech” and “bigotry” at anyone who expresses anti-religious or “anti-Christian” views, for example. Or to cry “treason” at anyone expressing anti-Bush views. Think of the way rightwing Catholic groups launched a major smear campaign against the two feminist Edwards bloggers for their supposed history of “anti-Catholic bigotry” (i.e. feminist prochoice commentary), or the many campaigns that have been leveled against cartoonist Ted Rall. Many people who make a living from left-wing commentary and cartooning have been in fear for their livelihood due to massive campaigns of outrage based on words or images taken completely out of context or misinterpreted.
- I completely support censuring the haters and raising voices against hate speech and making it loud and clear that it’s not acceptable. In fact, that's pretty much what I've dedicated my entire cartooning career to.
- But there needs to be room for radical dissent and controversial content... and it'd be hypocritical of me to say that privilege only belongs to speech I agree with or don't find hateful or offensive.
- Not that there isn't a line somewhere, or that people shouldn't be fired for being openly bigoted assholes, and not that Imus shouldn't have been fired. When Trent Lott revealed that he wanted to see a segregationist United States Strom Thurmond KKK style, he should have been out on his ass. Instead he's now Senate Minority Whip.
- Sharpton said he wasn't trying to bring down Imus, he was trying to "lift decency up." But is emphasizing that all we want from our media is cleanliness and decency the way to make it more progressive? Or is just going to encourage editors to choose content based primarily on safety?
- The market and advertisers played a big role in this, and I'm not going to celebrate that (scroll down for reference). These same market forces don't make supporting or backing marginal progressive forces or voices a priority and they haven't squat to diversify who gets precious TV and radio airtime and audience: the same old bunch of white guys. They were happy to support Imus for years of similar comments, and only bailed when it became a PR problem. Would these same advertisers bail from a gay program if targeted on a massive scale by rightwing Christian activists?
- All that said, what I really want to see in the media is real race/gender diversity and some strong progressive voices, instead of a wall of hatemongers like Imus/Lou Dobbs/Limbaugh/Glenn Beck/Hannity/O’Reilly and a bunch of meaningless centrists.
- Obviously Imus's departure hardly marks the End of All Things Sexist and Racist on the Radio. But do we really want to get out big scrubby erasers and start making lists of who needs to go? And why didn’t Media Matters mention Lou Dobbs on their list of other racist commenters still on the air? His crazed xenophobic rants about Mexican immigrants trying to destroy the white middle class certainly qualify as topnotch racism. I still hold that he is an Evil Martian Overlord.
- End disorganized bundle of thoughts.
- What do you think?
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