April 09, 2007

Imus: An Appropriate Response

Radio talk show host Don Imus got himself in a world of trouble for referring to female basketball players at Rutgers University as "nappy headed ho's" last week, a comment still being discussed today, in the New York Times, on the Imus show itself, and elsewhere.

Predictably, there are those calling for Imus to be fired for the comments, and perhaps their argument would have some merit in a perfect world, but ours is not a perfect world. Should Imus get fired for this incident, a bidding war for his services would likely soon erupt, and Imus might very well profit from his transgressions, not learn from them.

There is another option, however, that would hit Imus on a more personal level, and would potentially remind him that the words he chooses to use in the future may have repercussions.

The City of New York, where Imus works and maintains a residence, issues "may issue" concealed carry licenses, allowing the police to determine who is allowed to have a concealed handgun. This is according the Sullivan Act, and in practice, it means that very, very few permits are issued.

Don Imus has a well-known history of alcohol and cocaine abuse in his past, and while he claims to have been clean for many years, his substance abuse history is certainly enough reason to deny him a permit even in "shall issue" areas. It is clearly his fame, and fame alone, that has afforded him the privilege to carry a gun in New York City.

It only seems fitting that his infamy caused him to be stripped of this privilege as well.

There is very little reason to think that Don Imus has any greater need to carry a concealed weapon in New York than anyone else, and there are some very good reasons that should have precluded him from ever getting a permit at all. By stripping Imus of his privilege and the false sense of security that comes with it, it might serve to remind Imus that he is not a law unto himself, and it may remind him in the future that the words he chooses to use may place him in harm's way.

If carrying a gun can give some people a false sense of invulnerability, then stripping someone that has (undeservedly) had that privilege may serve to bring them down to earth. Let him face the world without a Glock to lend bravado to his racism, misogyny, and homophobia. I think a disarmed Imus would prove to be a defanged one as well, and one less inclined to attack others with such reckless abandon.

Update: Double-secret probation?

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 9, 2007 05:10 PM

Huh? Are you saying government ought to bestow certain privileges on people based on whether they toe the company line? And are you suggesting Imus said what he did because he has a permit to carry a gun?

Posted by: steve sturm at April 9, 2007 05:34 PM

I think what CY's saying is that maybe Imus would mind his Ps and Qs a bit more if he weren't walking around strapped, which he really ought not be doing anyway, because he's got a history of substance abuse.

Is not condoning bigotry a "company line"?

I guess I agree with CY on this one but I don't agree with CY on this one. I'd like to see jackasses like this off the air, but it's not up to the government to censure Imus, it's up to the listeners. People will support him if they will, which is where the problem lies -- not with the government. And while it makes me uncomfortable to know that people like this are carrying a gun, I don't think it's the gun that is giving him the false sense of security to say stuff like this, it's probably a poor upbringing.

Posted by: paully at April 9, 2007 05:48 PM

yeah, not condoning bigotry is toeing the company line, inasmuch as the government is bestowing favors to people based on whether they think the way government wants them to. put another way, if it isn't up to the government to censure Imus, then why is it okay for the government to deny him a gun permit based on what he said?

Posted by: steve sturm at April 9, 2007 06:46 PM

Am I saying I believe we should deny Imus the privilege of having his CCW based upon what he said?

Yeah, I guess that is what I said, isn't it?

I guess I'm guilty of sending a bad message here (perhaps in fairness I should be censored), but as Imus shouldn't have a CCW to begin with based upon his substance abuse history, I was thinking it was a prefect way of righting two wrongs with one long-deserved solution.

My personal thoughts on CCW are in favor of "shall issue" permits, but even in most "shall issue" states, Imus would not be allowed to have a CCW based upon past alcohol and drug use.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 9, 2007 07:18 PM

I guess the same rules apply to you too CY -- if people don't like what you have to say, they don't have to be a part of your audience -- something I'm sure you're well aware of.

For what it's worth, I kind've agree that [substance abuse aside] giving a guy like Imus a CCW is asking for trouble. Being able to draw down legally on someone who was threatening him based on his hateful rhetoric would boost his ratings, and he knows it. That seems like a pretty dangerous game.

Posted by: paully at April 9, 2007 07:58 PM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 04/10/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at April 10, 2007 09:09 AM

What Imus said is something that is say and celebrate in hundred of rap and pop song. He did nothing wrong. The suspension was a cop out from corporate hq who fear "black" boycott. I think they give black too much credit and power. But Imus is under they employment so he have to take the lump. But from a personal viewpoint, the call a ho for a ho.

Posted by: Anh at April 10, 2007 09:43 AM

I am sorry. Perhaps something is wrong with me but for the life of me I can not understand what Imus did wrong. If you listen to the dialog of the event, the phrase he used is meant to be funny and in no way is racist. I would not have said this but would define Imus' use of the term or any other as that is his job. He is supposed to be funny. Sometimes he isn't and sometimes he is. But the nature of his dialog is such that to restrict him is to lessen his ability to talk in a manner that is supposed to be relaxed and entertaining. What needs to happen is that blacks need to mature. Simply because someone says something a bit off does not make them racist or hateful. The women on this basketball team are not "ladies". As Imus was trying to say, they look tough, play tough and dirty. I have watched particularly back teams play basketball and it is not anything like whites playing. It is mean and they usually try to inflict injury. These girls were likewise tatooed and not very pleasant to observe. As to working to get through college. That is a joke. We all know that players get priviledge and are often passed along in their education.

I would think that what you need to look at is why is Imus being singled out for this type of treatment. Who is to gain. I would vote that Hillary is behind the push as he is an out spoken critic of that witch.

Posted by: David Caskey at April 10, 2007 10:07 AM

Black players play to hurt and whites don't? what? Ever heard of kevin Mchale? You guys should really read your comments before posting. Those girls are not "nappy headed ho's" , and they do not qualify as public figures either. A nice slander suit might shut his fat mouth.

Posted by: luther at April 10, 2007 10:22 AM

Hmmm, interesting approach. A lot of pinheads have falsely defended the KKK-Man with a First Amendment argument. Yours is the first Second Amendment argument--one would not feel so emboldened to speak one's mind, were one not able to defend one's self with deadly force.

Quite a provocative statement. If nothing else, having an issue of Imus' CCW made publicly would add to the stigma of his inability to reign in his sophomoric hijinks.

Posted by: Jimmm at April 10, 2007 10:23 AM


This is clever and entertaining, and I suspect somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But I don't know if Imus was ever convicted or if he's just outed himself. If he has not been convicted then taking away his concealed-carry would be the worst kind of gun control.

And yes, I am a strong 2nd Amendment liberal.


Posted by: David Terrenoire at April 10, 2007 12:06 PM


Imus has admitted past additions to alcohol and drugs, and this would seem to come within a lawyer's argument of keeping him from even purchasing a firearm (see ATF form 4473, question 12 e.), if you buy the argument of "once an addict, always an addict." Knowing his history, I would refuse to sell him a firearm,and would have every legal right to deny such a sale.

CCW goes beyond the scope of the 2nd amendment, and states have the right to more stringently enforce who can carry upon their person a concealed weapon. I strongly doubt that a former drug addict and alcoholic would be permitted a CCW in even most "shall issue" states, and were it not for his celebrity status, he would assuredly not have the right to carry in NYC, with it's draconian "may issue" history.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 10, 2007 01:39 PM

...this would seem to come within a lawyer's argument of keeping him from even purchasing a firearm (see ATF form 4473, question 12 e.)

I wasn't aware of that, Bob. Thanks. You learn something new every day.

But I was only half serious, as I imagine you were with this post.

Posted by: David Terrenoire at April 10, 2007 01:44 PM

And Bob,

I hope you take this as a compliment. I've bookmarked this page because I'm truly enjoying your posts. I hope you don't think my comments are anything but sincere even when I disagree.

Posted by: David Terrenoire at April 10, 2007 01:49 PM

I might be slightly more than half-serious, but only because I take gun safety very seriously. I'm very leary of giving admitted addicts firearms, whether they claim to be sober now, or not...

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 10, 2007 02:02 PM

he could just hire a body guard, or he already does..

a good test is whether he would say it to thier faces

Posted by: judson at April 10, 2007 02:26 PM

Did someone just spill a can of stupidity???

A man said something that many found offensive while their children were paying to hear rap artists(??)to say similar or worse.

As the stupidity washes over you, you decide the appropriate response is for the government to step in and revoke a CCW permit. God, what if he didn't have one; could we get his drivers license??

Hey, electric companies are public utilities we could have his electricity cut off. Maybe the housing authority could throw him out.

By the way, I don't like what your saying so what are you going to pay. Maybe "we the Government" should take away your freedom.

Oh rats, stupid constitution says you can say what you want and so can the other side. Rotten deal. Its better when you can back up your argument with the coercion of law.

Posted by: RFYoung at April 10, 2007 03:11 PM

I have watched particularly back teams play basketball and it is not anything like whites playing. It is mean and they usually try to inflict injury.

That's some pretty potent stupid right there. My days of playing pick up basketball in NYC playgrounds are over but when I showed up to play I needed to foul all the time to be competitive with the black guys. I was made to understood that this made me typical for a white guy. You get respect by having skills and nobody wants to be know as a hacker.

Back to the point of the post though, I'd be all for disarming Imus and all other recovering alcoholics and drug addicts out there but does this mean Bush doesn't get to pack heat when he leaves office?

Posted by: Lawnguylander at April 10, 2007 04:59 PM

Hmmmm, I wonder what other American celebrity has a past history of alcohol and cocaine abuse that goes terminally unmentionned on this site? Ah yes, right, I remember, it's Shrub, the dimwit president of the united states of 'merica.

Posted by: Jacques at April 11, 2007 12:42 PM

Hey Caskey, you sniveling twit, I had one of the Rutgers players in class. She was an excellent student. I don't coddle athletes. I have not time for that b.s.

And if you cannot understand why what he said was racist and, particularly, sexist, well, you've only proved the point...

Posted by: truthout at April 12, 2007 01:52 AM

get over it a mistake is just that. what about duke team u dont even her the acuser name they spend long time in jail, ther blameing prosucter double stand ill say;

Posted by: bill at April 12, 2007 10:45 AM

This is something that all must know in a time that racial tensions occur. You have no one to blame but yourself, when making comments about something you know absolutely nothing about. All the years that black people have existed and manage to survive all the atrocities that have fallen on us based on the color of our skin. I leave you with this:

Imus be happy to be nappy, but I have never been nor will ever be anybodies ho. Now Imus be in the crappy after talking about who's nappy.

Posted by: Bernice at April 12, 2007 05:25 PM