Friday, April 20, 2007

Say what you want! (As long as it doesn't offend anyone)

So, I'm following this story about the Ozarks Technical Community College instructor who was fired because of his attempts to lighten up his class before a test.

His crime? Walking into the class with his briefcase in hand, slamming it down on a desk and saying, "I'm a suicide bomber." This upset some of the students so much that they then went and complained to campus officials.

Evidently, these students (who have been in his class since the middle of January) felt that their instructor had been abducted à la “Along Came a Spider,” with his kidnapper wearing a look-alike mask and assuming his identity. Why else would they feel distressed?

Did they not know that he truly was not a suicide bomber? Were they genuinely fearful, running out the door, jumping out of windows, or huddling under desks?

No. They were “offended," we can speculate, in light of recent events at VTU.

OTC director of public relations and communications Joel Doepker sums up the university’s take on free speech:

“In light of what happened Monday at Virginia Tech, people are just more serious about comments that are made," Doepker said.

"We are still reeling from that news. But even without the Virginia Tech situation, (the instructor's comments) still would have been cause for termination."

What happened to college campuses being a center for free speech, to be able to say what you want, regardless of how asinine, ridiculous, or distasteful it may be? We don’t always like what is taught/said. I, like many people, have had professors who were so left wing, Marx would have been like, “Whoa, slow down, Comrade.”

I guess OTC (of which I am a graduate) has decided that their campus is more like a day care for adults than a place where adults voice their concerns or opinions over an issue. What a nice milquetoast atmosphere.

This was a satellite campus, mind you, with a makeup of students than can best be classified as “non-traditional.” What you have is a classroom full of grown adults who have not the fortitude to speak up against something they found distasteful. Instead, the only recourse they can come up with is to get the guy fired. Way to go!

I'm sure the guy's wife and kids love that you're "feelings" have unemployed their father.

Bunch of lilywhite zealots. I hope you are enjoying your feeble-minded lives.

Here’s the News-Leader link:
Remark Gets Teacher Fired.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fight the Power!

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) - A small radio station intends to run the "Best of Imus" next week in defiance of Don Imus' firing.

Fred Lundgren, chairman of 1,400-watt KCAA (1050 AM), said the station would start the series Monday with the program that wound up getting Imus cashiered.

"I'm not going to let networks dictate to me who I run on my station," said Lundgren.

The station, which has broadcast the shock jock's morning show since 2003, also plans to air mostly supportive listener mail and e-mail reacting to the controversy.

The station can be heard in communities east and south of Los Angeles. The Imus material also will be available on the station's Web site at Monday.

Calls late Thursday to Westwood One Inc. (WON), which syndicated Imus' morning program, were not immediately returned.

Lundgren said the motive for broadcasting the Imus reruns is in part financial.

"I hate to say it, but without Imus, we're pretty much toast," said Lundgren, adding: "What Imus did was deplorable, inexcusable, but it shouldn't end the career of a man who has done so much good. This is an overreaction beyond anything I've ever seen in radio."

Shaun Powell's column in Newsday:

Shaun Powell

It's more than just Imus
April 12, 2007

In retrospect, outraged people shouldn't have united and screamed "blank you" to Don Imus the last few days. No, instead, we should've stuck out our hand and said, "Thank you."

We should feel indebted to a shriveled, unfunny, insensitive frog for being so ignorant that he actually did us all a favor. He woke society the hell up. He grabbed it by the throat, shook hard and ordered us to take a long, critical look at ourselves and the mess we've made and ignored for much too long. He made us examine the culture and the characters we've created for ourselves, our impressionable young people and our future.

Had Imus not called a bunch of proud and innocent young women "nappy-headed hos," would we be as ashamed of what we see as we are today?

Or, to quote Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer: "Have we really lost our moral fiber?"

And our minds as well?

I'm not sure if the last few days will serve as a watershed moment for this MTV, middle-finger, screw-you generation. Probably not, according to my hunch. A short time from now, the hysteria will turn to vapor, folks will settle back into their routines, somebody will pump up the volume on the latest poison produced by hip-hop while Al Sharpton and the other racial ambulance chasers will find other guilt-ridden white folks to shake for fame and cash. In five minutes, the entire episode of Imus and his strange idea of humor will be older than his hairstyle. Lessons learned will be lessons forgotten.

I wish I were wrong about that last part. But I doubt it, because any minute now, black people will resume calling themselves bitches and hos and the N-word and in the ultimate sign of hypocrisy, neither Rutgers nor anyone else will call a news conference about that.

Because when we really get to the root of the problem, this isn't about Imus. This is about a culture we -- meaning black folks -- created and condoned and packaged for white power brokers to sell and shock jocks like Imus to exploit. Can we talk?

Tell me: Where did an old white guy like Imus learn the word "ho"?

Was that always part of his vocabulary? Or did he borrow it from Jay-Z and Dave Chappelle and Snoop Dogg?

What really disappointed me about that exhausting Rutgers news conference, which was slyly used as a recruiting pitch by Stringer, was the absence of the truth and the lack of backbone and courage. Black women had the perfect opportunity to lash out at their most dangerous oppressors -- black men -- and yet they kept the focus on a white guy.

It was a tremendous letdown for me, personally and professionally. I wanted Stringer, and especially her players, many of whom listen to rap and hip-hop, to take Nelly to task. Or BET. Or MTV. Or the gangsta culture that is suffocating our kids. They had the ear and eye of the nation trained upon them, and yet these women didn't get to the point and the root of the matter. They danced around it, and I guess I should've known better, because black people still refuse to lash out against those black people who are doing harm to us all.

Honestly, I wasn't holding my breath for Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, a pair of phony and self-appointed leaders, because they have their agendas and financial stakes. I was hoping 10 young women, who have nothing on the line, who are members of a young culture, would train their attention to within the race, name names and say enough is enough. But they didn't, and I was crushed.

You should walk around the playground and the elementary and high schools today and listen to how young black people speak to each other, treat each other and tease each other. You'd be ashamed. Next, sample some of their CDs and look at the video games they're playing. And while you're at it, blame yourself for funding this garbage, for allowing your kids to support these companies and for not taking a stand against it or the so-called artists making it happen.

Black folks, for whatever reason, can be their own worst enemy. The last several days, the media had us believe it was Don Imus. But deep down, we know better.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


We are losing icons left and right, Vonnegut being one of that bunch. In twenty, fifty, years are we going to be left only to mourn the likes of Paris Hilton and Snoop Dogg?!

Nothing against Snoop, personally. It's just that..I dunno..the relatively recent passings of James Brown, Johnny Hart, Peter Boyle (good lord, there are too many to think of right now): these were people who shaped and molded society, the arts.

Crap. I suppose in our postmodern world, the likes of Hilton and Dogg (?) are helping form the future.

Dammit, Vonnegut, why did you have to die now? The world NEEDS you!

An Icon, Gone

This morning, I recalled a 2006 interview of Kurt Vonnegut by Doug Brinkley of the Rolling Stone. I went through some things, and here is an excerpt from it:

...Vonnegut starts coughing, clearing his throat of phlegm, grasping for a half-smoked pack of Pall Malls lying on a coffee table. He quickly lights up. His wheezing ceases. I ask him whether he worries that cigarettes are killing him.

"Oh, yes," he answers, in what is clearly a set-piece gag.

"I've been smoking Pall Mall unfiltered cigarettes since I was twelve or fourteen. So I'm going to sue the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, who manufactured them. And do you know why?"

"Lung cancer?" I offer.

"No. No. Because I'm eighty-three years old. The lying bastards! On the package Brown & Williamson promised to kill me. Instead, their cigarettes didn't work. Now I'm forced to suffer leaders with names like Bush and Dick and, up until recently, 'Colon.'"....

Vonnegut's view on politics and politicians was as throwback as his sense of humor, and in this day and age of partisanship-till-you-die, he was truly one of the last of a dying breed.

God bless his ability to have been his own person.

Like many people, I read "Slaughterhouse Five" in high school. In the years that followed, I was fortunate enough to read many of his other works: "Cat's Cradle," "Breakfast of Champions," "Galapagos," and "A Man Without a Country" come to mind. I wrote a paper on him in college, as then he was one of the world's "greatest living authors." The fact that he is no longer a member of that club makes me feel vulnerable and small.

Vonnegut is quoted as writing and saying many things, but what drew me to him as a person was his labyrinthine view on the simplicity of life: that happiness can be obtained just as easy by laughing at the bullsh*t than trying to fix it.

As a throwback kind of guy myself, my favorite quote of his would have to be one featured in, of all things, Playboy, back in 1973:

“Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie - but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.”

One more thing: Vonnegut, when typed into a MS Word document, still shows up as misspelled. I struggle with the notion of labeling this ironic, or not.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus, the "n" word, and freedom of speech

Imus did it. The radio personality said a word that people who are devoid of color should never say.

No, not that 'N' word, but another.

"Nappy" is one of those words that originally had a meaning devoid of race. Of course, this is no longer the case. Nappy now signifies only the hair of a black, or more specifically, African-American person.

I point to the literally hundreds of rap and hip-hop songs that reference “nappy hair,” “nappy-headed,” and even, yes, believe it or not, “nappy-headed hos.”

Let’s be realistic here. The fact that he insulted a whole basketball team is secondary to the fact that the phrase referenced a hair texture common in (but not exclusively common in, mind you) black people.

And the fact that he called them “hos?” Poor taste, indeed. An ill-timed joke, yes. But then again, perhaps Imus was doing nothing more than simply using a phrase that is, in every sense of the word, a pop-cultural reference?

Who didn’t walk around in the 90’s spouting “Word” in jest? Or how about you women who incessantly said to one another, “Hey, Girlfriend!” What about "player hater?"

Nappy-head ho. Sure, it’s an insult. Imus was right to apologize.

But is he racist, or was the insult meant in a racist way?

I don’t believe so.

Suppose it had been a black sports jock who had called the team that. Would it be OK? Not as bad?

Would it be OK simply because he shares the same skin color?

I’m not asking these questions in jest. I want real answers here. In my opinion, it’s either wrong both ways, or not at all.

And then we have Al Sharpton calling Imus racist. Ha! Here’s a rat that only pops its head out when an opportunity arises to garner attention. The sooner he and Jesse Jackson leave the planet, the sooner we will all finally “get along.”

Imus, what you said was insensitive. I blame not the Rutgers team for taking offense to your remarks.

But, to everyone else still sitting around in disbelief at what he said, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for chipping away at my, and everyone else’s, freedom to say what we want so say. Because you have been heavily indoctrinated into the world of sensitivity and political correctness, I have no doubt that, if we were to have it your way, there will come a day when any and all insults (real and insinuated) result in immediate jail time.

What a wonderful world that will be!

Monday, April 9, 2007

First Post



More to come, of course.