[Note: This post has been updated (4) as of 9:48 PM Eastern on 12 Apr. See below.]
I had my first taste of broadcaster Don Imus some eight years ago via the simulcast of his syndicated three-and-one-half-hour WFAN-AM (New York City) early-morning radio show (5:30-9:00 AM Eastern), "Imus In The Morning", on cable's MSNBC. It took me almost a year to grasp what the show was about because it seemed to me a puzzling, incongruous, even bizarre mix of vulgar, offensive, macho locker-room chatter and humor, all of it richly larded with nondiscriminatory, equal-opportunity insults, side by side with some of the sharpest, most penetrating political and pop cultural commentary to be found anywhere on network TV which regularly included interviews and discussions with some of this country's most respected journalists, politicians, writers, TV news personalities, and other newsmakers.
When I managed finally to grasp the peculiar genius of this brilliantly choreographed show, at the center of which is the curiously charming, even endearing character and personality of the often caustic Don Imus himself, I understood why for the past 30 years the man and the show have been one of the biggest draws and most successful shows in all of radio broadcasting. And the hallmark characteristic and cornerstone of Imus's curiously charming and endearing character and personality is without question his always blunt, straightforward, and unflinching honesty and integrity in everything in his public life, which is in large measure responsible for the absolute, and I think justifiable, belief of his vast audience, myself included, that Don Imus's public persona is virtually identical to what the man is in private. In short, WYSIWYG. What you see is what you get.
The above is prelude to my asserting my certain conviction that Imus's thoughtless (literally, thought-less), vulgar, offhandedly joking locker-room remark concerning the players on the all-black Rutgers University woman's basketball team that's raised such a furor and storm of protest over the last few days was, in fact, just that: merely a thoughtless, vulgar, offhandedly joking locker-room remark, and nothing more; least of all a purposeful racist or sexist slur, or an insult meant to wound.
Below is a video clip of Imus's apology for the remark, which apology is preceded by the offensive remark itself ("nappy-headed ho’s") in its original context wherein Imus is speaking on the phone with sportscaster and erstwhile "Imus In The Morning" regular, the often mindless Sid "Sidiot" Rosenberg). In the light of my above comments, see what you think. And when you're watching and listening, note, please, that the players on both teams are all black (if there are any white girls on either team, they don't seem to be in evidence in the video clip).
Update (6:59 PM Eastern on 11 Apr): The appalling crucifixion this man is having inflicted upon him for his admittedly crude, vulgar, and repugnant but ultimately harmless remark is positively terrifying, and whole orders of magnitude more repugnant than the utterance itself (and if you're tempted or mindless enough to insist the remark was not ultimately harmless, then you're part of the problem — the very real and terrifying problem). I all but retched on witnessing on MSNBC that self-aggrandizing, grandstanding hypocrite, the Reverend Jessie "Hymietown" Jackson, assail Imus for his "racist" slur, and call for his firing declaring it's the only proper punishment for his "crime". Ditto that other paragon of virtue, the Reverend Al "Diamond Merchants" Sharpton, as well as dozens of others of the publicly visible leftist persuasion. The advertisers on Imus's morning show are jumping ship in droves in the wake of the vicious onslaught, and not on moral grounds either, but economic ones. That something like this could happen in this country in the 21st century after all we've learned from other countries and from previous centuries is not only egregiously shameful, but a red-light, alarm-bell warning of worse — much worse — to come.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Update 2 (2:56 AM Eastern on 12 Apr): Effective immediately, MSNBC drops from its schedule its 10-years-running simulcast of the "Imus In The Morning" show.
Craven little weasels — most particularly Chief Weasel Steve Capus, head of NBC News who made the final decision (watch the interview on the video linked in the above linked article).
Update 3 (6:07 PM Eastern on 12 Apr): CBS fires Imus. And the appalling beat goes on ... and on ... and on.
Craven little weasels.
Update 4 (9:48 PM Eastern on 12 Apr): New Jersey Governor John Corzine in critical but stable condition after being involved in a multi-car accident on the Garden State Parkway en route to a meeting with Imus and the Rutgers University women's basketball team.