Friday, April 13, 2007

Speechless

One of the reasons I haven't blogged this week is music: the Oakland Symphony Chorus is performing next Friday, and our director has scheduled extra rehearsals. Since I haven't retired yet, this brings the schedule down to eat, sleep, work, rehearse, and exercise if you can make time for it. Blogging does not make the cut.

The other reason I haven't blogged is the absolute overload of insanity in the news. I can not believe what's going on.

Don Imus calls a college women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos." (At least he made no references to "jungle bunnies.") Mr. Imus has apologized, and has lost his job. Some people have observed that when African American gangsta rappers use the same words in their offensive productions, nobody says boo, and they are perfectly right. If it's wrong for Imus to say it, it's wrong for NWA to say it (or whoever is hot this week). Or are we simply assuming that black rappers are inferior beings who can't be held to a civilized standard, which is even worse?

The governor of New Jersey, riding
in a police car to an interview between Imus and his targets, is seriously injured when the car swerves to avoid an out-of-control vehicle and crashes, because he isn't wearing a seat belt. There's a great public example for you. And in a police car; that's what floors me.

In other news, Paul Wolfowitz, of neoconservative fame, is about to be drummed out of his post at the World Bank because he arranged for his girlfriend to be posted to the State Department and given two outrageous raises. She now makes more money than the Secretary of State. It is doubtless unfair of me to feel that these are the homeliest two people I have ever seen pilloried for sex related peccadilloes. (I can't find a photo of both of them together to link, but just check the Google News files.) I don't think it's at all unfair of me to wonder why President Bush would appoint the man to head up an organization that "desperately needed shaking up", when even Wolfowitz' friends admit that "management was never his strong suit." (See David Sanger's article in the NY Times.)

And finally there is the astounding mess surrounding Karl Rove and the missing emails. Now, I support email for a living; and the amount of plain garbage flying around here is incredible. But the simple fact that the White House is trying to camouflage behind a barrage of possibly deleted emails, is that White House staff, including Rove, may have been using email accounts provided by the Republican National Committee for official government business. This violates the Presidential Records Act, which requires all official documents to be archived. I don't know if it violates the Hatch Act, which prohibits using government facilities for politicking; but it seems as if it should; the reverse behavior would. And the claim that Rove assumed that deleting email from his inbox did not delete it from the server is outrageous. I don't believe that Karl Rove gave one moment's thought to whether the server was archiving his deletes or not. I do believe he deleted emails he knew perfectly well should be archived.

Which brings me to a question I ask regularly. How many laws does this administration have to break before Congress realizes they are committing impeachable offenses?

4 comments:

  1. Boggart10:33 AM

    There are some things, I feel, are very difficult to regulate. One of those is free speech. You can have a law entitling the citizenry to free speech, but defining the exact boundaries of what free speech allows is difficult. These boundaries would also change from historical period to historical period. Society, on the other hand, can regulate speech. Society does this already and always has under the guise of manners. Types of language that cause no surprise in a locker room are not considered appropriate for social visits or conversation in the church social hall.

    Therefore, I found it a delight when society finally stood up, figuratively that is, and announced Imus’ descriptive phrase that so nicely slandered both gender and race in one low swoop was simply beyond the pale of acceptability. That he got fired is not only retribution but also indicative of the level of public disapproval. His firing is writing on the wall, in neon paint no less, that this type of language is offensive and not acceptable. Period. The warning is out.

    No, this won’t completely eliminate racially tinged or gender disparing language either in private or in public. What it may do is strengthen the backbone of those who previously bit their lips, shook their collective heads, and turned away saying nothing when they heard this type of speech. I hope we can expect, at the very least, more steely eyed glares, more, “Excuse me. Did you say what I thought you said?” and more overt body language that lets the perpetrator know he or she overstepped the bounds of what society allows.

    Perhaps even rappers may feel the financial pinch if parents can get over the idea that their children’s taste in “music” is a phrase. Society can regulate music and lyrics as well. Does anyone remember the riots in Paris that broke out with the early presentations of The Rites of Spring? Still tastes and what is acceptable does swing back and forth. “In olden times a glimpse of stocking was looked upon as something shocking. Now heaven knows. Anything goes…(Cole Porter)”

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  2. Yes, my husband commented that Mr. Imus has fully exercised his right to free speech, and now finds that it's so free, no one wants to pay to hear it any more. I think this is perfectly appropriate.

    I'm not sure there's hope for improving the rap community, not when Snoop Dogg chose to respond to the Imus flap with this classic self-exoneration:

    "We ain't no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel."

    I would hope that as he gets older, he will mellow; but Wikipedia indicates he's 35 years old, which is probably too set in his ways to change, short of some kind of personal cataclysm. As long as he feels that his personal inner angst (which can't be all that bad considering his income) allows him to make derogatory remarks about black women without apology, I'm afraid we're stuck with him. Unless you're right that people may actually quit buying his songs.

    Thank you for reminding me about Cole Porter. I must buy a Cole Porter songbook and start learning some of those songs. That man was a genius.

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  3. stephen7:04 AM

    Makes me wonder how long Howard Stern will have his job. I was impressed with the way the Rutgers team handled themselves. I think that they were very professional and represented themselves well.

    You know, all those people who got so indignant about Clinton’s “trustworthiness” are sitting there silent during these administrations flagrant illegal activities. Aren’t the republicans supposed to be the party of integrity? Didn’t Bush promise to “return” integrity to the White House? What ever happened to that?

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  4. I can't resist it - stephen, your comment about Clinton and his "trustworthiness" reminds me of yesterday's Doonesbury strip. It's just classic, and SO relevant.

    I can't guess how long Howard Stern will keep his job, but then I never understood why either he or Don Imus ever HAD a job, and let's don't even start on Michael Savage. Right-wing radio is the only employment medium I can think of in which one is allowed to be gratuitously rude to all the customers, all the time, and get paid for it.

    I agree that the Rutgers team handled this appalling incident with great dignity.

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