Thursday, April 12, 2007

Don Imus - Double Standard

By now, the world knows what Don Imus called the Rutger's Women's Basketball team. His words are inexcusable. The media frenzy and retribution over those words, to me at least, is inexcusable.

Why? Simply put: double standard.

It is perfectly okay for rap artists, hip-hop artists, filmmakers of colors, to use such language in their music and films. It is considered cultural in those contexts. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition are protesting Imus, but I have yet to see them protesting the artists who perpetrate such language for the almighty buck. Why aren't Jesse and friends picketing the record labels and movie production companies? Why aren't the news personalities so strongly deriding Don Imus, doing the same thing? If it is wrong for a white person to make such comments, based on the cultural phenomenon of rap music and certain films, then why is it all right for others to make such comments?

Simply put: It is not. Or rather, it should not be. Plan and simple: double standard.

I do not agree in any way with what Don Imus said. I think it is wrong. It is ignorance at its worst. There is no defense for his actions, not even the rampant use of similar language by hip hop and rap artists. If he has no defense, then the hip hop and rap artists, the movie directors, etc., should not have a defense either. If the punishment for Don Imus is to get fired (which is happening, so it seems), then the same punishment should apply to rap and hip hop artists, et al.

Now, before the rage and indignation begins, before the name calling, and the protests by the Rainbow Coalition, please do remember I am a gay male who has heard more than my share of derogatory comments - faggot, queer, fairy, and so many other lovely terms. I am not defending Don Imus. I am simply protesting a double standard.

Society cannot change on its own. Society cannot (rather, should not) exist with the multitude of double standards. No one - black, white, or any other color - should be able to use the terms Don Imus used to describe the Rutgers Women's Basketball team. No one - gay or straight - should be allowed to use the term faggot, queer, fairy, or any of the other more colorful terms that exist to deride gay people. No one - men or women - should be able to use the term bitch to describe a woman. The fact is, within the Races, the Sexual Orientations, the Genders, there is a tendency to take the words, the derogatory terms, and empower them, limit the negative connotation, and create a positive connotation. My friends and I sometimes refer to each other as faggot, queer, fairy, nellie, etc. We take the negative and make it positive. It is wrong. Women do the same thing with the word 'bitch'. It is wrong. It is a double standard. We - society, one unit, not separate - must move forward as a group and stop. It is that simple. If one person is punished for using derogatory language, then all people using the same language - no matter the Race, Orientation, Gender - should receive equal punishment.