Outside editorial: Vile remark was racist

Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This editorial appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

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"I am not a racist," talker Don Imus declared Monday morning on his CBS Radio show, which MSNBC simulcasts. Yet out of his mouth last week came a shockingly vile, repugnant and racist remark.

He referred to the predominantly African-American Rutgers women's basketball team, which had lost to the University of Tennessee for the NCAA championship, as "nappy-headed hos."

Despite his attempts to apologize, the National Association of Black Journalists and other groups have called for Imus' immediate dismissal. Indeed, he deserves heavy-duty punishment, up to and including being sacked.

Imus' show has been a stop for many performers and politicians through the years. Why would any return? They shouldn't.

This poison must stay off America's airwaves. The Rutgers basketball players, by sheer virtue of making it to the championship game, were women of accomplishment. Calling them prostitutes was exploiting an old racist stereotype.

No constitutional issues are at play if Imus is fired or his simulcast discontinued. The First Amendment bars government from limiting speech. The owners of private news organizations have the right and even the duty to set boundaries on content.

Imus leaped way over what ought to be permissible.

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