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Don Imus: Not alone

Don Imus: Not alone


In wake of Don Imus' racial slurs against Rutgers women's basketball team, Advocate columnist Jim David reveals the dark secret of morning radio hosts: they're all style over substance white males afraid of minorities at their dinner table.

So Don Imus gets bitch-slapped, and then fired, for saying "nappy headed hos." MSNBC yanks him off the air, advertisers bail, and Imus starts the obligatory damage control mea-culpa tour, throwing himself at the mercy of the President Of All Blacks, Rev. Al, and the girls themselves. Perhaps he and Michael Richards could rent a bus and visit every black in America to personally apologize. Meanwhile, he denies he's a racist, as do his morning jock co-stars, using such unimpeachable examples as the fact that they listen to 50-Cent, live in a building filled with Jews, or grew up in a black neighborhood in the South Bronx. Whenever you hear the "some of my best friends are..." argument, stand back and watch the bullshit pile up. They said it's all just meant as jokes. The simplest Google search reveals reams of past examples of their "jokes," including the use of those hilarious, non-racist words "jigaboo," "sambo" and "brillohead." It was only a matter of time before someone uttered the straw that broke the negro's back. Imus deserves every punch delivered to his cadaverous face, but so does most every other shock jock in the country. What else is new? Without racism, sexism and homophobia, morning radio would not exist. In my travels performing stand-up on the road, I've done scores of morning radio gabfests to publicize the show. I dread it, never knowing what idiotic Morning Zoo I'm about to walk into. The shows are, almost exclusively, populated by a cast of characters similar to Imus' show: straight, while, middle-aged, mostly conservative-leaning males who seize every opportunity to make "jokes" about every group they feel uncomfortable around - gays, women, and every conceivable minority, from blacks to quadriplegics . Here's how morning radio usually works: the hosts arrive bleary eyed and grumpy at the station at an ungodly hour and go over the latest news to come across the wires. They pick and choose things they are going to talk about that morning, usually the most salacious "National Enquirer" type juicy bits, because they inspire snarky comments. There is seldom original, clever material or serious discussion about real issues - it's all fast, loud and designed to get the attention of the listener scanning stations the car. The last time I did morning radio there were discussions about Britney Spears' shaved head, just who was father of Anna Nicole's baby, and why Hillary Clinton is a bitch and Rosie O"Donnell is a fat lesbian. Writing good comedy is hard, and most of these guys can't do it. The finest political comedy on the airwaves, "The Daily Show," has a huge staff of seasoned comedy writers and a brilliant host. Most radio jocks around the country are not lifelong broadcasting professionals. They are hacks and Howard Stern wannabees who have somehow been plopped into the radio studio, overgrown adolescent males like most of their target audience. Whenever a woman is a co-host on a show, she is often referred to as "radio bitch," "traffic slut," or other term of endearment. She is seldom treated as an equal. When I spoke confidentially to one woman about the unbelievably sexist treatment I witnessed on the air, where she was obviously supposed to just play along and laugh it off, she replied, "I could complain about it or lose my job. I pick the job." Anti-gay comments on morning radio go completely off the charts. Just recently on Imus, Sanjaya of "American Idol" was referred to "sissy Sanjaya" who should only be the victim of a hate crime. (But folks, tip those waitresses, I'll be here all week!) I did several radio shows around the time "Brokeback Mountain" was all over the place, and the sniggering gay jokes were so prevalent and revolting it was all I could do not to hurl my chair at the jocks. They are so comfortable in their homophobia that when a real gay person who doesn't just sit back and take it, like me, walks into the studio and calls them on their crap, they don't remotely know how to deal with it. They're stunned that someone is sitting in the room who doesn't jive with their frat boy crap. Once, on the air on a morning show in Wisconsin, I was treated to a prerecorded sketch about a black welfare mom and her 19 "chilluns," as well as a sketch about "roommates" Bruce and Lance, pronounced Bruth and Lanth. The sketches did everything but give maps to where these people could be found and beaten. When I said, "Well, it's nice to be here on WKKK," the host glared at me like I was defecating at a garden party. Most of these jocks are not bad guys, they're just stupid and play to a stupid audience, think the whole world thinks like they do, and could care less what underrepresented group they offend. Not only that, they're lousy joke writers and seem to think that merely using an insult is in itself brilliant comedy and anyone who doesn't like it is PC and should just lighten up. On Comedy Central's "Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn," on which I regularly appeared, many of the comics were the same type of low rent clown, hurling out insults supposed to be funny but usually just demeaning. One of them was the most racist, misogynistic and antigay human I've ever met who, if he weren't a comedian, would be a Mafia hit man. He is now the host of his own radio show in New York. Imus is Edward R. Murrow compared to most of these amateurs, but he's still just another yahoo. He apologized, profusely, but never would have if he hadn't been smacked down, and never apologized for previous "jokes" that were equally as rancid. Imus is the sacrificial lamb, but there are plenty of equally deserving lambs out there. I personally await the day a jock is fired for a heinous antigay comment, but I'm not holding my breath. America cares far more about racism than they do about homophobia. Conservative America thinks that if a minority is offended, it's their fault and they should stop acting like such a pussy, just like Muslim women who are themselves blamed for getting raped. Conservative straight white males are up against the wall, and they're pissed. They have ruled the roost forever, and now that minorities are demanding their place at the table, they're fighting back like bears being neutered without an anesthetic. On Huffington, a reader commented thus: "It's the fact that when the Republican right is constantly pushing a line of bull saying there's no racism in America, and no such thing as a hate crime, occurrences like this prove without a doubt that there is a racial caste system in this country, where white men rise to defend other racist white men." Morning radio. It's not just for breakfast anymore.

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Jim David