Thursday, April 12, 2007

Democratic Candidates Should Let Rutgers Women Defend Themselves

Shock jock Don Imus's remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team were hateful, irresponsible, and certainly nothing to ignore.  At a press conference earlier this week, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer and her team proved that Imus, and anyone laughing at his comments, is completely ignorant.  How is it that his remarks continue to draw attention from presidential campaigns? 
John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama have all weighed in on Don Imus's remarks, but unfortunately, their contributions to the discourse have been at best unnecessary, and at worst, transparent attempts to play the headlines for votes. 
Edwards spoke of his "obligation" to speak out against such intolerant remarks, although he has never spoken out against Imus before and still might appear on his program in the future. 
Clinton posted a call to action on her web site, encouraging visitors to send a note of support to the Rutgers team. 
Since when must presidential hopefuls speak out against a shameless bigot who has been spewing derogatory remarks on the air for years? 
Let these talented young women continue to defend themselves.  They are doing a more than ample job of shaming Imus, and will have every opportunity to shine again with their appearance on Oprah.
Let let the marketplace act.  With Imus's advertisers dropping like flies, and MSNBC dropping his telecast , the market is speaking loud and clear that hate speech is not entertainment. 
In the meantime, pundits will stand up to defend Imus as a harmless entertainer with a history of charitable giving .  Others will dissect the event as a chance to discuss all of the racism and sexism in our culture. 
Drawing more attention to Imus's stupid remarks, indeed, making him the subject of comment for our presidential candidates, only legitimizes that racist sentiment in our national discourse, and ultimately encourages other "shock jocks" to push the free speech limit.

These presidential candidates trying to tout their wholesome values instead offer hollow and belated criticism of a man who scarcely deserves their, or our, attention.