Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Imus and the ALA

I can't say I'm sorry that Don Imus isn't on the air anymore, but then I make a distinction between "constitutionally protected" speech and civil and appropriate speech. I wouldn't have recommended the FCC censor Imus, though I can't say it would have bothered me much if they had. But considering his very uncivil speech, I think it was a good thing for his radio and TV shows to be canceled. Now if only misogynist rap music was treated the same way, I think a lot of women would be better off. Actually, I think everyone would be better off.

Regardless, I've been waiting patiently for the ALA to make a comment on Don Imus. When it comes to Internet pornography, the ALA is always talking about how important it is to let everyone have access to all "constitutionally protected" speech. I'm waiting for them to raise a protest over the Imus's dismissal, since he was fired for exercising his right to free speech. Isn't this an example of someone being penalized because he chose to exercise his "intellectual freedom"? Where's the outrage from ALA? Why are they calling CBS and MSNBC and Al Sharpton censors? Because that's what they are--censors--and the removal of Imus from the airwaves is censorship, at least according to the ALA.

Here's a bit of their statement on intellectual freedom: "Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas." Isn't that what Imus was doing? Wasn't he disseminating an "idea"? I put that in quotes for a reason. I don't think he was disseminating an idea, but then again I don't think an Internet picture of a naked woman in a leather collar performing lewd sexual acts on a man is an "idea," either. But for the ALA everything is an "idea." (I guess that explains their accreditation standards.)

And here's a bit from their definition of censorship: "Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it. The censor wants to prejudge materials for everyone." Does a commercial radio station count as private or public? If it's purely a private institution, why would it be regulated by the FCC? The FCC regulates the public airwaves. Wouldn't that be enough to make this an issue of public speech?

If a public librarian said libraries shouldn't be buying Snoopy Snoopy Dog Dog or Dirty Old Bitch because of their misogynistic lyrics, the Office for Intellectual Freedom would be calling the librarian a censor and probably worse. Is this really that different? Is "censorship" by some group other than the government censorship or not? If it is, why isn't Imus's removal censorship?

I think the ALA should step up and decry the suppression of Don Imus and rebuke CBS, Sharpton, and the rest as censors. Then maybe they could recommend that public libraries rent Don Imus so that he can continue to exercise his "intellectual freedom."

That way they would be intellectually consistent and support yet another position I disagree with, giving me something to blog about.


Dances With Books said...

While I am not particularly sorry he is off the air (I did not think he really was that good anyhow), I do think it boils down to a double standard. Had he been a Black (ok, African American for those who need to be PC) radio host or rapper, no one would be saying anything, and he would probably still be on the air.

Overall, it seems censorship to some boils down to uncivil. Someone says something someone else finds offensive, take it off the air (or the media or what have you). No distinction between protected speech and just a case of having poor judgment and being uncivil. . .or just being a bonehead, which seems to be Imus's case: he said something boneheaded. Anyways, I would not hold my breath on ALA saying something about it, just as I am not holding my breath that Sharpton and his crew will be saying anything to their rapping "brethren" anytime soon.

Anonymous said...


It's fairly easy to remember:

C'est le "S" majuscule, oh oui, le frais N, le double-O-P
D-O-double-G-Y-D-O-double-G tu vois

And it's Ol' Dirty Bastard (often shortened to ODB). (RIP)

And you should set aside all your old skule classics and step to da Wu:

"Annoyed Librarian from this day forward you will also be known as Expert Mastermind"

Fo shizzle mah Annoyedizzle Librar-in-izzle.

--Taupey, who kicks it all styles.

Anonymous said...


Snoop Dogg or your life: choose your own adventure?

"Now, that, I got me some Seagram's gin
Everybody got they cups, but they ain't chipped in
Now this types of sh*t, happens all the time

Later on that day
My homey Dr. Dre came through with a gang of Tanqueray"

How charming is that? After out "friends" want to split up cheap gin, this doctor named Andre joins us for drinks and brings some Tanqueray?


Mental Meanderings said...

In the end, Imus was fired because his advertisers bailed. If they had not, he would have been back on the air at the end of the initial suspension. People do not censor the rappers because that material sells. Imus ceased to sell and thus was dumped. It is all about the money.

AL said...


Anonymous said...

If Imus had written a book for NAMBLA, then the ALA would have loved it and promoted it.

Brent said...

Porn is art if there is a government grant. Public libraries paying for porn (indirectly through bandwidth) is art. So ALA supports the arts. Your logic is flawed, AL.

AL said...

I thought there might be some problem with my logic. But then if public libraries pay Imus to come to the libraries and insult black women, then that would be art. If they would buy a book by Imus, why not just buy him? And if they wouldn't buy a book by Imus because it might be offensive, then according to the ALA that would be censorship.

Wait, I think I have something here. Since paying Imus to come vent at a public library would be equivalent to buying an offensive book by him (assuming that the cost would be the same), then not paying Imus to come to public libraries and insult people is the same as censoring him, since according to the ALA not buying an offensive book is censorship. Thus, public libraries are censoring Imus by not paying him for public performances.

And they're censoring me, too!

Brent said...

There ya go. I like that logic.

But we all know ALA's subtext for favoring pornography in public libraries: They love it. Plus, it gives bland librarians a chance to be part of the 2nd sexual revolution and talk about sex.

Stephen Denney said...

Personally I think firing Imus was an overreaction, and I was sorry to see it happen. However, the issue of ALA hypocrisy aside, I don't know that it is necessarily a case of free speech or censorship when a radio or tv network fires someone for making outrageous remarks. Remember Michael Savage getting canned from MSNBC tv after he told a caller that the person was a "sodomite" who should die of AIDS?

This is a case of an employee being fired for making inappropriate remarks. If a librarian were to make inappropriate remarks to people using the library, would it necessarily be a case of free speech if that person were then disciplined or fired?

AL said...

I don't know. I was just doing one of those provocative blogger things today because I didn't have time to write anything good.

However, I think there's certainly an argument that it could be made into a free speech issue depending on the inappropriate remarks, or as the ALA might say, the "inappropriate" remarks.

The Reactionary said...

I'm boycotting further discussion of the radio personality who must not be named; however, I think this will interest you if you haven't seen it:


Anonymous said...

The ALA should hire Imus to do a Centerfold Spread in all his Glory, do an interview with him so he can have his remarks written down. Then the ALA can give out a copy to everyone at their our next meeting.

Is that a book in Imus' pocket or is he just being censored?

Anonymous said...

This is something I've learned about liberals (ALA included): they are always* against censorship.

*Always, that is, except when the ideas being censored are something that offends them. Then it's okay to censor.

AL said...

I disagree here with the use of terminology. I think it would be more appropriate to say that some people who might call themselves "liberals" for convenience or strategic purposes fit this description, and it is in times like that that they are in fact betraying liberal values.

Dances With Books said...

I think Mr. Denney makes a good point about the issue of being disciplined in the workplace. I heard somewhere (could have been here)that if you have Free Speech, you have to live with the consequences as well. Sure, Mr. Imus was free to say whatever boneheaded thing he wanted, but it was not appropriate for his workplace, so he got disciplined. Sadly (for him) it led to an overreaction where he got fired. As MM said, it is all about the money (or, "it's all about the Benjamins"). Advertisers feel pressure, they pull the plug.

shade said...

I think the personal quality had something to do with it. Instead of making a sweeping generalization (which can be supported by stereotypes and therefore is ok), he chose to personally insult specific people (who have names, supporters and lawyers).

Like when Salt N Pepa said they didn't want a short-dick man it was ok because it was anonymous. Every guy could make the excuse that he was not the one lacking in substance. If they had said "I don't want the Chicago Bears because they've got some short-ass dicks", well, that changes it a little.

Anonymous said...

well said, shadey...maybe some soapboxes will get upturned in this re round...