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April 10, 2007

Questions from a Slitty-Eyed Ho

Don_imus I've lived in the Bay Area for over a decade and I've been surrounded by American culture my whole life.  But I have to admit that there are many nuances about US culture that I need to tread very carefully over.  Take Don Imus' recent racial remarks over the Rutgers womens basketball team, his subsequent suspension and possible termination.  I'm only being ignorant, not racist, when I ask, could someone please explain to me why there is such a huge outcry?  (and this is not a rhetorical question -- I'd really love to hear people's comments)

I do believe Don Imus when he said his remarks were meant to be funny, not insulting.  He's a shock jock, isn't he?  His "Nappy-headed ho's" remark sounds exactly like something you would expect to come out of Howard Stern's mouth every five minutes.  How can other people like Michael Savage or Rush Limbaugh call Nancy Pelosi every synonym for prostitute imaginable and not cause an outrage?   How come South Park can make fun of every race, religion and handicap and not be pulled from the air?

And I think I understand that African-Americans would be insulted, even though many call each other ho's and n**s and worse all the time.  I guess it's like having an Uncle John whom everyone in the family loves to make fun of, but woe betide anyone else who does.  But when black rap stars regularly refer to women in this way in their music, how is a twelve-year-old white boy supposed to know that it's ok for the black kid across the street to emulate the rap star, but not ok for him, because he's white?   Why not suspend or even reprimand Chris Rock for all of his racial jokes?  Even though he's making them against his own race, isn't he setting a bad example?

And is this outrage/respect reserved only for African Americans?  If Don Imus had been talking about a Miss Chinatown pageant and referred to the contestants as "slitty-eyed ho's", would it have caused this level of outrage?  Or how about if he had been commenting on the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and called them "white trash" or "bleached-blonde ho's"? 

I do believe that CBS radio has every right to set policies and guidelines over what to air, based on their corporate culture and values.   And as an Asian, if someone called me a "slitty-eyed ho" at work, I would be outraged and speak to my boss about it.   So does he deserve suspension?  Yes.   But does he deserve termination, all this bad press and eternal damnation?  In my opinion, it's time to move on -- but I'm not American, so I don't know how many people would agree.

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