Friday, April 13, 2007

No Freedom of Speech for Don Imus?

Imus 2

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Beatrice Hall

Something troubles me.

It's not that I liked Don Imus. Frankly I despised him for his adolescent insensitivity. I still remember that obscene gesture that he did with a wet cigar around 1998 during the Lewinsky scandal. Despite whatever Bill Clinton did in the White House, he did not deserve that kind of treatment on national TV, even from a detractor like Imus. Captain Cowboy Hat and his crew has a long record of such abusive behavior of which the Rutgers incident was only the latest. He should be shunned. He should be ostracized. He is pond scum.

According to MediaMatters, Imus has a rap sheet on both arms. This year alone, he was accused of at least echoing a phrase that he attributed to his executive producer, "Besa mi culo," in reference to Gov. Bill Richardson. In March, executive producer Bernard McGuirk in character as "Cardinal Egan," equated Barack Obama's topping Hilary Clinton's fundraising to a stereotypical view of black criminals.

Imus & Co. are also is said to have cast racial slurs on Jews, Arabs, Latinos, you name it.

And women from all walks of life were special targets for Imus. The stronger, more powerful the woman, the more they got the Imus treatment.

Still, despite all that, his career shouldn't have been ended.

If Imus was fired because of something he said, and those girls were deeply offended, then we shouldn't castigate Bill O'Reilly's attempts get Keith Olbermann fired, because after all, despite the fact that Olbermann was being honest, O'Reilly was offended by what he said, and how he portrays O'Reilly. And what about Rosie O'Donnell?

Can we afford what may turn into a witch hunt?

Bill Maher is a man who may well understand the position that Imus is in because also lost a show for saying something which at the time, (somewhere after September 11, 2001,) was assumed to be contrary to the tensions and overwrought sensitivities of the time. According to Radio Ink, Maher rushed to Imus's show, and defended him with these words:

I just think there is so much in this country about making people go away for a mistake. It's a mistake, you apologized, and you know you don't lose your livelihood - I don't understand that people have to lose their livelihood because they made one rotten joke. It's like nobody in this country can have one moment of discomfort. If you were made to feel one moment of discomfort, the person who caused it has to go away and that's just ridiculous.

Yeah it was a bad joke, it was real creepy but after that people move on. You know? Don't listen to you any more. You will lose some black listeners and that should be your punishment.

Of course, Bill didn't take into account that Imus & Co. are repeat offenders, but essentially, he is right.

People on the Left have as much to fear from this business as well as the Right. While not nearly as caustic as a Michael Savage, Limbaugh and O'Reilly, radio Left of the dial has many provocative and envelope pushing talents that might one day go too far. Stephanie Miller mentioned fears of "a slight chilling effect." And I'm sure Mike Molloy his offended somebody with his acid tongue. Did I mention the outspoken Randi Rhodes? So many people ion the Left have been attacked and smeared for their speech by the Right, that we should be the first to defend anyone’s freedom of speech. And yet, sometimes even we turn on the A.C.L.U.

I really hate to say this, but there has always been a slight totalitarian streak in many on the Left. It manifests itself in their ability to dismiss out of hand ideas that they are opposed to. It gave rise to political correctness. It also manifests itself in uncalled for bullying, harassment and head hunting.

For this very post I fear there will be a very caustic reaction. Once again, I DO hate the sinner, and would consign him to a very special circle of Hell, as well as hate the sin. To those who tout all of Imus's charities and big heart I would say:

Forget it! He hurt people, and many of them were weaker than he!

But I would not consign freedom of speech to the shredder! just because someone abused it. That the Rutgers girls were deeply hurt and offended by what Imus said, I have no doubt, but those girls are at a point in their live where they can overcome this adversity. Imus, at his age lost his career.

I wonder if anyone remembers how many times certain groups tried to take a few library books off the shelves because they found some words or passages in those books to be objectionable? Some books I’m sure were like Mein Kampf, or maybe somebody didn’t like O’Reilly’s books. But then, some people didn’t like Mark Twain’s books like Huckleberry Finn, or Tom Sawyer, because they had the “N“ word in them. No one remembers what a great thinker Mark Twain was, or that his books were written with the best of intensions.

Freedom is only freedom if the least of us can have it. Otherwise it’s only privilege. And privilege only serves to control people.

Bill Maher

Huffington Post - Michael Fauntroy, PhD "What's Next Al?"

A Poem about Don Imus

New York Times - Networks Condemn Remarks by Imus

Thursday, April 05, 2007

John McCain and the Potemkin, sorry I meant Shorja Market

John McCain Potemkin 1

Potemkin Village - From Wikipedia:

Potemkin villages were, purportedly, fake settlements erected at the direction of Russian minister Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787. Conventional wisdom has it that Potemkin, who led the Crimean military campaign, had hollow facades of villages constructed along the desolate banks of the Dnieper River in order to impress the monarch and her travel party with the value of her new conquests, thus enhancing his standing in the empress's eyes.

So John McCain and Lindsay Graham took themselves a little stroll in a Baghdad sook didn't they? Get a little local flavor, some face time with the folks right? Show us all how safe things are becoming in Iraq by not wearing the old brain bucket right? And those quaint little Iraqi merchants were so friendly! Heavens! A little island of peace and love! A taste of what the future of Iraq will be!

All to be gobbled by the folks at home via the TeeVee!

Only, there's one small problem:

When you're trying to pull off as large a PR scam as this, you can't let them see the gears turning!

Lindsay, John, it's nice that you went to the market sans helmets, but you should've left your flak jackets at home as well. But that was just one of the smallest giveaways. There's more.

You see, I can't even remember the last time I went to the Farmer's Market with a couple of Blackhawks and Apache gunships flying overhead. Have to keep control of my expenses you know. After all Johnny, you did say things in Iraq are getting better now didn't you?

From Capitol Hill Blue:

Monday, 02 April 2007
According to Arizona Senator John McCain, life in Baghdad is pretty safe these days - so safe, he says, that he walked freely in an open air market without any fear for his safety.

On his "safe" walk through the Shorja market where 137 Iraqis died from a truck bomb in February, hundreds of combat-ready American soldiers surrounded McCain and his party while Blackhawk helicopters provided air cover. The Senator, and others, wore flak vests.

The market where McCain walked "freely" is also fortified with blast walls and "Jersey barriers" to restrict vehicle traffic.

Reporters weren't allowed along on McCain's "walk of safety." An Army spokesman cited "security" as a concern for limiting access by the press. Instead, the military provided photos and video afterwards. After the Senator and two Republican colleagues returned to the safety of the even-more-heavily-fortified "Green Zone," he bragged about how safe Iraq had become under the seven-week-old "troop surge."

While he spoke, roadside bombs southwest of Baghdad killed six American soldiers. They weren't surrounded by a security cordon of troops pulled off regular duty to protect visiting VIPs. No Blackhawks circled overhead to provide extra security.

It's a sad state of affairs when a photo op by an aspiring Presidential candidate warrants more protection than American men and women fighting in an out-of-control civil war.

And I'm happy that you brought along that nice Gen. Petraeus and 100 of his boys! They deserve a break! But in a new and improved more peaceful Iraq, did they really need to bring all that hardware? After all it's not like somebody was going to bomb the place! Pity that few other Americans had such luck in another part of Baghdad:


4 G.I.ís Among Dead in Iraq; McCain Cites Progress

April 2, 2007

BAGHDAD, April 1 ó Mortar attacks, suicide car bombs, roadside bombs, ambushes and gun battles killed at least two dozen people on Sunday, including four American soldiers, the authorities said.
The American military command said the soldiers were killed southwest of Baghdad just after midnight as they responded to an earlier bombing that had killed two other American soldiers. The insurgents have frequently tried to reap greater death tolls by carrying out attacks against rescue crews rushing to bomb sites.

Such a nice peaceful day! And why on such a day did you and the other Republicans feel that you needed to bring 100 soldiers with full hardware on a shopping spree? Maybe you were trying to hide something? Maybe you knew that without those G.I.s, those Apaches and Blackhawks your life wouldn't be worth a plug nickel! And maybe without that preliminary sweep, you'd've lost more than your big tow to an I.E.D as your were strolling. Maybe Dubya was so anxious to save his legacy and you were so desperate to prop up a sagging Presidential campaign that you put on an act and threw up your own Potemkin Village just to try and fool the people. All nothing but props while the media and the people float by in their barges and merely give it all a glance.

Well, guess what Senator McCain:

This time the barges decided to dock. Time for a little stroll of our own to see what's behind the props of your little Potemkin Market.

IraqSlogger Sen. John McCain Goes Shopping For Votes