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23 April 2007

Responsibility, free speech, and Bill & Ted

I'm tired of hearing Imus sympathizers invoke the First Ammendment in his defense. It's not an issue of whether or not Mr. Imus had the right to say what he did. Nobody hauled him off to jail. He's been pilloried metaphorically, but physically nobody's laid a hand on him and he'll be licking his wounds (back to metaphors again) very comfortably in the privacy of one of his own lavishly furnished dwellings until such time as he sees fit to announce his triumphant comeback. He had and he has and he will have the right to say what he did.

I think the debate should be about whether he should have said it and I think the reason that's not what most people are talking about is that for the most part, reasonable human beings can agree that he shouldn't have.

I think what we should be focusing on is RESPONSIBILITY. As this media storm continues to gain strength and the frying pans cast eyes on larger and larger fish, I sincerely hope the organizations that truly profit from those who would do hurtful things in the name of ratings continue to feel the heat. And I hope Imus isn't the only casualty.

Imus, Limbaugh, Coulter, the KKK, etc. all have the right to say what they want to say. But none of them have the right to a nationally syndicated radio program. None of them have the right to step on whomever else they please (verbally) as they claw their way ever upwards to the top of the dung pile. They have every right to stand on the street corner and rant and rave. They are not entitled to a paycheck in return, and they are not entitled to a nation-wide public address system. Always remember that the airwaves are licensed to the employers of these blustery windbags by the federal government and by extension, the American people.

"But that's censorship!" you cry. Well, no. But even if it were the FCC already applies archaic censorship rules to the public airwaves. Hefty fines await those who would dare utter a fuckword or two during afternoon drive (children might be listening!) but Jerry Del Colliano compiled today a pretty stomach-turning sampler of what passes for decent broadcasting these days.

No, I advocate not censorship but responsibility. I ask why advertisers have to pull spots before companies hurry out press releases about doing the right thing and excising a tumor. I wonder when decency will be more than a euphemism for PR expediency. I wonder when the major purveyors of this bile will heed the advice of Bill & Ted, who told us to "Be excellent to each other." And really, I don't think it's ever going to happen on the airwaves at all.

Which is why, as I commented on Mr. Del Colliano's blog and as you might have already guessed if you read this blog often, I've turned my back on broadcast radio almost entirely. With a few notable exceptions, radio has become a vile, wretched tar pit, and I could care less that these dinosaurs are sinking into it. Let them shriek and howl all they want on their way down.

I'll be on the Web, where the voices that resonate with me can be heard (and read) loud and clear.

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