Let Me Just Say This One Thing…

I usually keep myself above frays involving hot button issues outside of sports. However, like everyone else in the nation I cannot avoid the Don Imus flap over his remarks concerning the Rutgers women’s basketball team and particularly one remark made by one of the players.

“It kind of scars us. We grew up in a world where racism exists, and there’s nothing we can do to change that,” said Matee Ajavon, another member of the team. “I think that this has scarred me for life.”

No actually having your college life disrupted, your athletic career prematurely ended, and your reputation profoundly destroyed by a false accusation of rape and the overzealous actions of a power hungry prosecutor is the textbook definition of a life scarring event. I have no point of reference to know what a minority person feels when an offensive phrase is used like this but I would imagine that it is far from being a life scarring event.

And if it is, does that not mean you are letting the bigots win?

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30 Responses to Let Me Just Say This One Thing…

  1. Kyle says:

    I enjoy your posts and appreciate the web site.
    This post was a little surprising to read- surprising that you would link these two separate incidents and essentially suggest that the white guys got it worse than the black women… so the Rutger’s player shouldn’t express her hurt because of this??
    Not sure what your intent was and not clear your comment does much to promote productive discussion on the subject of race or gender relations. So maybe your usual staying above the fray is a wise choice.

  2. C. Michael says:

    Well said, and yes, I will say that the Duke players got it FAR worse then the Rutgers players. What the two groups of players went through isn’t even comparable. Words, people… they are just words.

  3. C. Michael says:

    Oh, and the term “Jiggaboos and wannabes” is from a Spike Lee movie, so if we are going to point fingers, let’s not forget to point them at everyone.

  4. C. Michael says:

    Just to make things clear, Imus is still an idiot…

  5. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Kyle,

    Just a change of pace, not something I plan to do that often.

    In this limited case, yes I would say those three guys got it worse than these players did. I am not speaking to whatever history of racism these women may have experienced but rather to their response to one phrase used by a washed up radio jock who has a history of baiting pretty much everyone. It was one phrase directed at her team of which a small percentage of the country actually I have seen or know about so I would surmise her loss of reputation is minimal. The three Duke players in the past year have been accused of rape, had their team suspended, their college lives disrupted, and their reputations destroyed over a false charge brought by a disturbed woman and carried forth by a power hungry prosecutor. Their lives have been in total flux for over a year and whatever else may be the case their lives have been altered because of it. The last I checked the Rutgers players were still on the team, still going to class, and were not awaiting a trial which could put them in prison.

    Offended, yes. Scarred for life. No.

  6. Ron B. says:

    I disagree completely.

    Why even compare the two? I mean the Duke Lacrosse players weren’t pinnacles of holiness to begin with. They were at a party with booze and strippers. Why were they scarred? Because of the accusation from the stripper and because of the media’s tendency to publish criminal cases in news. Once that information is out there you cannot take it back. Who takes the blame? The media, the people who rushed to judgment and the accuser should take the blame for these scars.

    What were the Rutgers players doing? They were playing basketball, but that is what they were supposed to do! They were being models for young women everywhere and yet they were derided and made fun of.

    Maybe when they speak of scars they are talking about the cumulative effect of being ignored by basketball fans. In addition maybe being scarred means they have been made fun of in the past for not being as good as the men and Imus’s comment just adds to that effect. Maybe when they talk about scars it isn’t just that Imus’s comment was made but the media took his comment and continued to repeat it over and over. Who should take the blame for these scars? The media, Imus for being an ignoramus, and society for unequal treatment of women and men should be responsible for these scars.

    Sure racism is different than being falsely accused but to some extent it is the same. Those girls weren’t even close to the description that Imus called them. As far as racism goes I would have to say those women are right, they will have to deal with an uneven playing field for the rest of their lives. To those Duke lacrosse students I say welcome to the world of the underprivileged.

  7. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I disagree as it pertains to this limited scope of the two incidents. I am not going to get into life histories and what not because no one knows them.

    Let me point you to a great article by Jason Whitlock who hits the nail on the head:

    http://www.kansascity.com/182/story/66339.html

  8. Chris says:

    THF, I enjoy and appreciate this site a great deal. That being said, I think you missed the big picture by a wide margin on this one. Sure, an 18 year old college freshman was a bit overly dramatic about comments that were offensive to her. But this certain-
    ly cannot be used as a counter-argument to racist and abusive statements made on a national level by a man making large amounts of money doing his daily job of basically being an arrogant egotist. As long as we continue to make arguments that support such behavior, such as going back and saying so and so said this or that back in 1981
    or somebody’s reactions to the statements were not valid, we make no progress. I take the comments for what they were: racist, inappropriate, and an attempt at humor at someone else’s expense. I’m no saint, but I say punish the guy, and continue in the future to punish those of any race who continue to promote anger between us all.

  9. Tar Heel Fan says:

    And I would agree with that. I have no problem condemning Imus for what he said. I just think she embraced the victim role a bit too much which is pretty much what Whitlock said.

  10. Josh Bowling says:

    I don’t necessarily think that Imus has anger or racism in his comments. Where is the anger at? It seems to me to be just an ignorant event to have One person, in spite of all of the fanfare from the media and institution for their success, to let one person and one comment do this to them. You want to punish someone for words said in a radio format? I don’t think that he is arrogant or an egotist-basing it on just this one comment, I don’t know his historical work. I support the freedom that a person or institution has to say what they wish. The checks and balances should be on how We the public respond and think of it, not to make it a punishable crime what he said. Most of us think he has made himself to look foolish in the public eye. THAT should be the punishment. What does it say about our mental stability if we want someone who doesn’t think or talk like we do to be punished? How on edge are we? And should we be punished for being so sensitive? Just some things to ponder. For you idiots out there who want to equate a moral equivalence to the Duke situation and the Imus situation. What would you rather have someone say about you? The fact that you are nappy-headed and look like a criminal, or would you rather have your name scrutinized for being a Rapist? No matter what Imus said, these kids from Rutgers aren’t having their name being put out their by the media as “bad girs” like Imus said, but rather by smart-intillectual-decent citizens. Their appearance plainly displays that fact!

  11. Josh Bowling says:

    Chris, this life and country gives us too many opportunities for success and to achieve the things we want to, than to let one comment cause anger. The only one who are angry about it is you. Why let such stuff bother you? Only the truth should cut so like a knife.

  12. Josh Bowling says:

    Ron B. Even though you try to draw an equivalence to being a victim of racism to being a purpetrator of Rape, I don’t see the equivalence. I would rather go home and tell my wife that I made a racist comment before I would want to tell her I raped someone. Also, ask women who have been raped and see if they had a choice between being called a bimbo or some other word, or being raped, which would they choose. I know what my choice would be. Wouldn’t it be considered Insensitive to those that have been raped to make this kind of argument that you have Ron B? Maybe we should have your right to speak punished like Imus’? Just something to think about? If we are going to be consistent in our philosophy of punishing “words”.

  13. Chris says:

    Hey Josh, let me clear two items up for you: 1. If you think that I’m the only one angry about the comments, then you need to come out from under the rock. The guy got fired by two national corporations because of the national outrage over his comments. 2. Please don’t waste any more of your precious time sermonizing to me about how I should act or think; I’ll let you know the next time I need your help.

  14. Josh Bowling says:

    You are still displaying your anger Chris. Don’t let it get to you like that. The guy got fired because of the sensitivity of what was said, not because of “mass anger”. If you want to let it anger you fine. I was simply stating that you don’t have to let it bother you so. Please accept my apologies.

  15. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Actually he got fired because the advertisers flew the coop. If it was really about what he said, he would have been fired on the spot. What he said did not get more offensive with each passing day, they were offensive the moment he said them. It was only after enough outrage was stirred up to the point it made the shareholders queasy that he got the axe.

  16. Josh Bowling says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of this situation TarHeel fan. Your arguments come from a premise of fact and not emotions. That was a great write-up link you sent out as well. That is a good perspective to have when events like this arise.

  17. Josh Bowling says:

    Also, I feel like a Superhero. Whenever someone gets on my nerves, or I just plainly don’t like them, I can draw my weapon of word and scar them for life!!

  18. actuarializing says:

    I wouldn’t harp too much on the comments from the Rutgers players. They’ve been pretty much thrust into this victim role by the media in a slow news week. I’m not saying it wasn’t an idiotic thing to say on the radio or that it’s not a big deal, but they didn’t ask to be at the center of a controversy this week. Right now this probably seems like the biggest event of their lives, and it centers around a racial slur. That, to them right now, must seem pretty life-impacting.

    That said, the Duke LAX guys really did get a raw deal if everything turns out to be as we think. However, there’s something to be said for not being in the wrong place at the wrong time …

  19. jc says:

    THF, you hit the nail on the head. The Rutgers chick had some wrong words aimed at her; she’s not “scarred”; she’s just way too ready to be the offended “victim.”

    The Dook Lax players had their lives ruined, at least temporarily, if not permanently.

    There’s no comparison. The whole Imus situation is indicative of a soft society waiting to be offended, and to punish those who it’s OK to punish (white males) for mere speech. Lookit, Les Munvez of CBS just fired Imus….will he fire the cadre of rappers that make millions for his record company who use the words “nigga” and “ho’s” every third word of a rap song? Of course he won’t…..rappers are untouchable. Poverty pimps like Sharpton and Jackson are, too….they can and routinely do insult anyone with whom they know they can get away with it (again, white males or conservative males or females of any color).

  20. Kyle says:

    THF- I think it is useful to have a discussion like this on your site. My concern was with how you introduced the topic by allying with the white lacrosse players and mocking the black women’s players. Concerning because as a white male who has enjoyed your commentary I was left wondering what led you to compare the two in the first place. I am all for free speech in this country, including Imus’s. I would have liked to hear your condemnation of his comments in the initial post rather than as an afterthought in the thread of comments. I imagine your African American readers would have appreciated this as well. Adam Gold on his show recently said as white men in this society we HAVE to accept the double standard to a degree. I agree because racism and other forms of discrimination are often about the abuse of power. Thank you for providing this forum and fan site.

  21. Josh Bowling says:

    I don’t think THF was allying or mocking, just merely making a comparison. This has got to be the most sensitive era this country has seen. All of this hatred by the media over One man’s words. The only way One man can have this kind of power is if you give it to him. You can flame me all you want, and I may get frustrated, but it will not scar me for life. Good points JC and THF.

  22. Tar Heel Fan says:

    “I was left wondering what led you to compare the two in the first place.”

    Like everyone else in the nation I had a strong opinion on what happened and I debated fairly heavily whether I would post anything or not. I did the political blogging for awhile and understand how divisive it can be. I was concerned that saying the wrong thing would drive some of the small group of readers I have away. At this point I do understand that I have a forum which is mine to basically say what I would like. I have also generally be careful about tipping my hand too much where politics are concerned since I actually like for this blog to be a forum where we debate sports which to me is something that is a bit of a relief from the hot button issues in the rest of the world.

    As for the comment itself, it really kind of ticked me off. It was being a victim and while these women were victims in terms of the fact they had the offensive remark directed at them that does not mean they have to act like victims. Jason Whitlock was on Anderson Cooper last night and he basically said that what should have happened was Vivian Stringer should have declared it offensive but also said it did not define them. And that was kind of how I thought it should have been responded to. I thought instead of all of this intense protest and fist shaking over the racist remarks that the offended party should have rejected the statement as the pathetic attempt of humor by a washed up radio personality carried out in bad taste. In my opinion it afford the phrase more power than it would had they simply rejected it as offensive and denounced it’s effect. Now on one level maybe I am just profoundly ignorant as to the extent to which this statement would be hurtful to a group of black women. That being said I still did not get how that could be a life scarring event. And if that is a life scarring event then what do we call what happened to the Duke Three?

    There are several aspects of the affair that bothered me and I might have been better served in exploring those. I thought the utter unwillingness to forgive by men who called themselves Reverends was profoundly disturbing and the general hypocrisy associated with the language found in hip-hop vs what Imus said.

    So I apologize to anyone who was offended or who thought I got it way wrong. I am sure it will not be the last time. I imagine I could have easily opened up a discussion by just making some general statements about the incident without the comparison. At any rate the Rutgers women have accepted the apology and are moving on and I think I will do the same.

  23. Ron B. says:

    We live in a society in which people are punished for words everyday. Take for example the Michael Richards situation. This is because our society is already highly polarized by parties which are depicted as having opposing views and because of our history. As far as a comparison my stance remains the same. I do not agree with a comparison between the Rutgers team and the Duke Lacrosse men.

    I would have been more comfortable if you compared the Duke team to say Kobe Bryant or to the OJ case. In all these cases I believe that their lives were changed dramatically for the rest of their life.

    As far as making equivalences goes, this all rests in the head of the girl who made the statement. In my comparison I was creating a hypothesized constant racism/ injustice to the experience of being accused of rape. Sure there is a bunch of relatives going on that don’t add up but you can’t make an assumption one way or the other. How might her statement have changed if you had seen the entire context of it? You can’t always take media blurbs and run with them because they are often taken out of context to produce dramatic effects.

    If we go back up to the scenarios I suggested I would agree that Kobe and OJ went through sometime similar to the Duke men. The woman who made the statement didn’t say, “This is worse than being accused of rape”. When she said scar for life she didn’t say how big or how small the scar would be. Maybe it is large maybe it is small. Maybe what she was trying to convey was that this event left a mark on her life. Words do leave marks on our lives despite everything that has been said to the contrary.

    It doesn’t matter if it is our parents, people we were in relationships with, teachers, or complete strangers. I am probably safe to say that all of you have been marked by events in your life in which you remember something negative which was said to you. Just because you remember it doesn’t mean that you let the person who said the negative thing win. How you respond in the face of those negative words speaks to your character. Maybe at the time the mark was said to you your maturity influenced how you responded.

    As far as the culture of gansta rap being the enemy instead of Imus, I believe that is a cop out. I listen to all types of music both rap and non rap. Rap doesn’t make me go out and call people racial slurs, or carry guns. A battle is being fought against negative words in the black community and that doesn’t preclude that battle being fought in the larger public sphere as well.

    Words are open to interpretation and when people say something we can take them negatively or positively.

    I could care less about Imus or his words. I actually think losing his job over this is a very sad way to leave but this world is crazy so what are you going to do?

  24. Ron B. says:

    Josh Bowling I wanted to respond to a couple of the items which you directed to me.

    No the comments I made IMHO could be construed as insensitive to people who have been falsely accused of rape.

    Josh I think in your analogy you might say “I was accused of being a racist” vs. “I was accused of raping someone.” If we were being more precise we would say, “I have to deal with the scar of Imus’s comments.” vs “I have to deal with the scar of these false accusations of rape.”

    I actually agree with a lot of the points which have been made here, I think what we are arguing about are the various details.

    I don’t think the two ( being falsely accused of rape vs. having Imus’s comments directed at you) are equivalent. I believe you are going to be more effected by being falsely accused of rape. However I said “to some extent they are the same”. They in the previous sentence compares “a life of dealing with racism” to “a life forever changed by an accusation of rape.

    I hope this clears up any confusion about my comments.
    Oh and Josh, thanks for calling me an idiot!

  25. Kyle says:

    THF- for the record I understand what your saying about victim mentality and appreciate you posting the whitlock article. Someone can be a victim without playing a victim. Imus was playing a bully/persecutor and found a college student to play up victim on a national stage.
    It would have been nice for the leader of that team to set the tone as you mentioned- It is easier for me to expect this of her than the college student thrust into the national media and pressured to play victim by those rushing to “rescue” her. Google “drama triangle” for more on the persecutor, victim, rescuer dynamics.

  26. Chris says:

    Think back to when we were all 18 years and some of things that we did and/or said. It is very difficult in my mind to make a big deal about what this 18 year old female said in the glare of national publicity, perhaps with a microphone shoved in her face, Jason Whitlock or no Jason Whitlock. I suspect that any of us at that age might have said something a little too dramatic or not quite on the mark, and I don’t believe that at that age or in that situation the remarks were much to make a big deal about. It would have been different if Oprah had declared that she was “scarred for life”over the whole situation. Having said that, THF you’re doing a great job with this site, it is enjoyable to come to every day and read and participate, and a little politics here and there isn’t a bad thing.

  27. ericboggs says:

    Guys – I’m not sure if you’ve heard or not, but Snoop already put the Don Imus/Gangsta Rap issue to rest:

    http://ericboggs.wordpress.com/2007/04/12/snoop-dogg-don-imus/

  28. Chris says:

    Here’s a thought from the editor of the sports page of my hometown newspaper. It was actually Duke’s fault that Imus lost his job……if Lindsey Harding had made her free throws at the end of the Duke-Rutgers game, Rutgers would have been out of the tournament and Imus would have been Ok, unless he called the Duke players nappy haired hos……

  29. Tar Heel Fan says:

    ericboggs,

    Okay, just so I am clear what he is saying is it is okay to refer to some black women in this vain but not all of them, correct?

    Of course not. If the whole message behind this is that all people should not be referred to with hateful language then the gangsta rappers should be held to the same standard as Imus. Then again we all know that will not happen because there is no money or power in getting rid of the gangsta rap.

  30. 52BigGameJames says:

    I know some will interpret this as an excuse or subject changing, but really, the “victims”, and the “victims advocates”, in the Imus case are trivializing true racism, as long as sexist, violent Rap videos exist. I consider myself a Progressive Liberal Democrat but this would be laughable if the implications weren’t so profound—ie-the so-called “Leaders” of the Black Community. The best way for the Rutger’s Gals to handle this would’ve been to march right into Imus’ studio dressed up as Nappy Ho’s, and diffuse/disarm the marginally racist humor with humor. Michael Richards was a different story entirely. Imus was responsible as it’s his show, but anyone familiar with the show knows that the real racist is Bernie. Don was just stupidly playing along. I feel bad for Don, but satisfied that Bernie got his comeuppance!

    Bernie, manning the grill at Mickey D’s: “da-da-da-da-da…I’m Lovin It”!

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