Readers respond to Mike Straka's last column...
Tony B. in Fla. writes: Hello sir, finally a voice of reason! Let me say I am not an Imus fan, never have been. He says offensive and unfunny things all day long so I do what anyone else who does not like what he says can and should do: I do not listen to his program. Like you mentioned, rap music does say far worse things all the time. I exercise my freedom in that case as well and do not listen to it. I believe that there are people out there who look to further their own careers by stirring up trouble from an already unfortunate situation. I think they know full well they are also helping Imus by creating interest in what he said, but do not care because it puts them in the spotlight. Imus' ratings will probably go up after this. The ladies' basketball team could have been above all of this by responding about this situation by saying "Imus who?" Anyway, I agree with you, just wanted to tell you. Thanks.
Russ of Beavercreek, Ore. writes: Mike, the white male population has no corner on the racist market! In the real world, the minority people in the United States have just as much hatred for the whites as visa versa. Racism is racism, regardless of what color the person is. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton are more racist than the average white person ever thought of being. They have gotten rich through racism.
Jen M. of Cleveland, Ore.: Show me where in the Constitution it says that Americans have the right to not be offended. I'm offended when the race card is played relentlessly, I'm offended that my constitutional right to free speech (READ the right to say what I want) is constantly under attack. I'm not a racist person, I judge every individual based on their own merits, but there is no such thing as hate speech because I'm allowed to hate people for whatever reason I want. Imus is in trouble because he referenced the texture of someone's hair ... well there is a new movie coming out starring Halle Berry called "Nappily Ever After" about a black woman who shaves her head and learns to live with herself as a bald woman. Is this title a reference to the texture of a black woman's hair? Why is nobody up in arms about this? Because it's a movie supported by the black community? Why the double standard? Why can blacks call each other the N word, yet if a white person uses it, it's the end of the world? If you want to be treated fairly and as equals then stop victimizing yourself, take the good with the bad like everyone else and get over it.
Pat B. in Dallas writes: There is no such thing as reverse discrimination, that is an oxymoron. Discrimination is what it is, no matter the ethnic backgrounds. I'm truly GRRRRd at that term.
Dianne B. writes: The problem with Imus is that he has been insulting and degrading to all women for so many years and neither NBC or CBS has done anything. He is even cruel to his own wife on-air. It is time for him to go. You need to go back and review many of his shows to get a real feel for the cruelty of this man.
Frank C. writes: Do you think if Imus wasn’t in New York the media would really care what came out of his mouth? I find it disturbing that any “journalist” would spend any energy on this issue. Imus is rude, crude and not worth the time of any individual with half a brain. Just hit the “off” button and put it to rest.
Joanne T. in Sewell, N.J.: Mike, thank you a million times for your sensible article. I think that Imus should proceed to make this right with the girls' team, and going forward, use his voice to ensure that ANY AND ALL PARTIES WHO WISH TO DENIGRATE WOMEN ARE REMOVED FROM THE AIR. This double standard must stop. They say there are no accidents. Perhaps this is the impetus that is needed to get these gangster rappers and all who turn their heads the other way to own what they have done. Let's face it, they gave Imus his material! If I were Imus, I would keep my foot on the peddle and hold all others to the same standard and I would out all of them. He can be a positive force in the sea of vulgarity and misogyny that has pervaded the youth of this country with impunity.
Ywain writes: As long as you insist that Sharpton and Jackson are spokesmen for black Americans, you will never have a valid argument to what the public feelings are about any topic dealing with race issues. What source or document are you using to place them in that position? Who is the spokesperson for white Americans? Exactly, no one. So why do you feel we need one? Where is this so-called “Black Community”? Right next to the “White Community”? The whole premise and ranting on by the media is ridiculous. You included. Why doesn’t FOX News do a story about how those two are not the leaders of black Americans? The answer: Because there will be no one to counter your argument. You seem to have these “leaders” identified as such to keep a divide in the American public AND to make it seem as if black Americans have no intelligent voice. I will look for your next story on how Obama has the “black vote” … yeah, we all think alike and are lost sheep looking for a shepherd. Wake up.
Corey H. writes: Mike, I'm not your typical angry-with-white-people kind of African American guy. But the real truth is all of these people who use degrading language toward women in any venue are ridicules. The rappers and hip-hop guys are just as wrong. The real issue here is the fact that "Imus IS WHITE." A white guy just cannot get away with those kind of remarks in America after the dark reality of slavery. Let's not drag the other into this debate, that deserves it's own debate. Two wrongs don’t make a right. In addition, no one can change how Imus feels about blacks or women. He has a right to be a racist. He just doesn’t have a right to use FCC airwaves to make it known. Just my opinion. Do you really think this guy should continue working? IF so, you also need a soul check. Our country is bigger than these idiots who still have a problem with gender and color. I mean come on, it's 2007. Black people, Jews, gays and women aren't going anywhere. "LET IT GO." He's had a long career of similar incidents. He's had a second and third chance. If profit is more important than human dignity, then we are in a sad state of affairs.
Vicki L. writes: He should not be fired ... since he wants to be known for street vernacular that's the way it should be handled. I read he has a gun for his protection -- usually guys like that are cowards. If Imus lived life like he talks, OK ... the truth is he doesn't and he would probably call the police and want to prosecute anyone who popped him in his mouth. He has done some good things ... does not think twice about complimenting himself for the person he is. Compliments are better received when someone else gives them. He is shallow and made good money ... it's about money ... what a sad life. Not that it matters: I'm black and 60 years old ... I have seen and done a lot over the years -- any people do anything to make money.
Michelle L. writes: I agree with you that the uproar and call for Imus' firing is a bit far-fetched in the sense that this type of outrage is never directed to rap artists who make millions off of degrading women on a regular basis. I do, however, want to come to Spike's defense and correct your impression of his film. "School Daze" is a political movie with statements about the various divisions that exist within the black community. The division between light-skinned and dark-skinned (particularly women) is highlighted by the "jigaboo/wannabe" issue. The socioeconomic tension between those blacks who are students at the college and those blacks who are what we used to call "townies" is also spoken about in the film. The militant "Back to Africa" group that calls the other side "Uncle Tom" and "sell out" for bowing down to "the man" is also an issue in this film. The context of and purpose for highlighting all these things is made clear in the end scene where Laurence Fishburne repeatedly implores us to "WAKE UP" to what we do to destroy ourselves. So, what I'm trying to say is this: Spike's reasons for using these images and words were markedly different than Imus and his producer. Spike was not trying to make us laugh -- he was trying to make us think about the condition of our own race. I do not fault Spike for using these words for this purpose. Spike was pointing to a reality that exists within the context of the black community and asking us to wake up to it and change. You may think that a double standard, but I would say the motive behind the use of such words and images is key in understanding why Spike's use of them would not be offensive in the same way that Imus' use of them would be.
Melody B. writes: I'll never understand why white people in the media continue to perpetuate the idea that black people in America all share one brain and the voicebox and mouthpiece of that brain are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Instead of hopping in a time machine and bringing up movies and skits from 20 years ago or bringing up the words and actions of filthy-mouthed "entertainers" who represent such a small, small percentage of the black community, and whose support comes primarily from white young people, by the way, why not find out how average black Americans feel about this situation.
You can start with me. I am a 30-year-old American who happens to be black and I think this situation is absolutely appalling. Not only the hurtful words that were uttered from the mouth of Don Imus, but also his adolescent argument that apparently you find plausible. "That's what black people call each other." Give me a break. I've been called quite a few things and I've called some folks a few things. But I'm happy to say that one wasn't in my repertoire. Using your argument, because white people killed the Indians and Jeffrey Dahmer, who happened to be white, ran around killing and eating people, I could, using your argument, say all white people are crazy. But let's not stray from the subject at hand. Mike, my GRRRRRRRRRR is this: it is unfair to subcategorize groups of people in this country and then punish them for the behavior of a few. Just because Snoop Dogg and whoever else behaves poorly doesn't mean we LIKE it. And it's no excuse for anyone else to do the same. No excuse. I'm very disappointed in your thinking. And there is no spokesperson for every black person in America, FYI. You might want to write that down, use it as a reference for future articles.
Michael C. writes: Read and appreciate your perspective. I really think that Imus is way past his prime and I am not African American or any kind of activist. I met my wife at Rutgers, and have two young daughters that I encourage to participate in sports. We followed the success of the Rutgers team and it was a real Cinderella story. My daughters saw what women could do, and that they were relevant in sports. At a life-defining moment for these young college players, they were attacked in a way which took their dignity and said they were less than relevant. I cannot see how the words can be taken any other way. What does it say to young women who are active in sports when the Florida Gators are treated as national heroes while the Rutgers women have their dignity taken away? It was not funny and not relevant to any news story. Again, I appreciate your perspective, but I would ask you imagine that was your daughter he insulted at a defining moment in her life and reconsider.
Ms. H. writes: Hello, as an African-American, single mother of a middle-school daughter and a son, I agree with your view on firing going a bit too far for Don Imus. I am sick and tired of my fellow African Americans slapping each other on the hand for behavior we are ready to impale other races for performing. It's like a child-molesting father, brother or uncle ready to kill an outside man for raping their daughter, sister or niece, but he's sneaking in the room at night taking what he wants and expecting the victim to understand. How can we complain about other races if we don't hold ourselves accountable? I understand the anger, but why only get this angry when someone outside the race does something like this? It's something I wish would stop and is a bit embarrassing.
Mary C. writes: Your comments today about Don Imus has been what I’ve been thinking since this happened. I am not sure if Imus should be fired or not, and since I’m not a fan of his, I don’t care either way. I do feel that he has taken accountability for his mistake. What I do care about is the fact that not one person should ever be using these words, and as you stated in your article, if Sharpton and Jackson want Imus to pay, then make EVERY person of EVERY color pay STARTING NOW!!! I hope your article gets people talking and gets all races realizing this type of vocabulary is wrong. We cannot allow one race a free pass just because they happen to be the same color as the victim.
Paul V. in Steamboat Springs, Colo., writes: What do you think would happen to you if you made the same comments in your office? I know that I would be looking for a new job. Why should Imus not be held to the same standard that every working person is held to?
Charles in Alabama writes: Great article Mike ... I totally agree with you. There's most definitely a double standard in our society. Had the Rutgers team been predominately white, and Imus said; "those soda-crackers didn't have a chance against Tennessee," nothing would have been said. Everyone would have laughed about it because the joke would have been directed toward white people. Heaven forbid a black person be the brunt of the joke by a white person. Charles Barkley cracks jokes on white people ALL the time, but I don't recall anybody (Al and Jesse) demanding that he be fired??
Curtis from Columbus, Ohio: In response to Michael S.'s response to your previous column, one in which he remarks how your piece didn't have a depth of knowledge, then proceeds to show his own obliviotness by stating the "4-alarm" Spicy Chicken was from BK, when in fact it is from Wendy's as you correctly stated in your column. Nice! Maybe he should have worked more on his "Depth of Knowledge" before GRRRRing yours.
Curtis R. writes: "Is that to suggest that Don Imus should be more responsible than a rap artist or the people who profit from rap music that prominently features misogynistic lyrics?" The answer is quite simple: YES. Imus, and other opinion jockeys, should be more careful in their speech than rappers. When a radio host like Imus is given a multi-million dollar contract to entertain the public by exploring the hottest topics of current events, they must find a way of doing it without using language that will get the FCC license pulled or to rip apart the delicate and frayed fabric of American society. If they want to rant hate speech, then they should get themselves a little-seen Internet radio program like the rest of the kooks. If they want to represent a major communications icon like NBC, then they must rise to higher standards. Imus does not do that. He should be fired, and let new talent move up.
Kris in Fla. writes: I am a blond-haired, blue-eyed, white-as-snow woman and I think a real statement should be made. "FIRE HIM" and let it be heard loud and clear that comments like this are just simply unacceptable!!!
Jeff A. writes: I won't try and defend Imus ... I don't like his program or what shock jocks do for a living. However, after many "high profile" cases of people finding out after the fact that what they said was racist, I propose a more active solution that I believe we can all benefit from. I recommend that the NAACP produce a list of "racist words and phrases" that should no longer be used in the mainstream. It should be a list that no one is exempt from ... if it is a racist phrase, then neither whites nor blacks should be able to use it without immediate condemnation from the NAACP and its leaders. This is an easy solution that would help everyone move forward and produce something besides what we keep seeing in the media. Right now, the NAACP is reactive ... this solution would help them be proactive.