In Riydah, the sprawling capital of Saudi Arabia, a man’s nose had to be reattached to his face after his two wives attacked him for threatening to marry a third woman. Apparently, he learned the hard way that sometimes, enough is enough. People will only stand so much.

On our side of the globe, Don Imus, the host of the popular line-toeing “Imus in the Morning” radio program, learned the same thing. He was suspended for two weeks after he made some ridiculous comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, who recently lost in the NCAA Women’s Basketball finals to Tennessee. “That’s some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos?. Those are some nappy-headed hos, yes,” he joked last week.

Al Sharpton expressed the nation’s disgust first, calling for Imus’s show to be cancelled while appearing on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. “We want him fired,” he said, adding, “If there’s no punishment, what message are we sending to the country?”

Sharpton could have, for once in his life, added gravitas to his divisive rhetoric, had he condemned anyone else making similarly inappropriate comments.

I do not – do not – condone Imus’s comments in any fashion. They were disrespectful to women, African-Americans and to the Rutgers basketball team, along with their friends and fans, of which I am one. However, to call for the end of his career is simply irresponsible when his comments are compared to other radio broadcasts and pop culture icons.

For example, the Mims’ “This is Why I’m Hot” lyrics: “Another bitch another drop/ 16 bars, 24 pop/ 44 songs, nigga gimme what you got.” It is currently sitting at number one on the Billboard Rap Chart. At number two is R. Kelly’s “I’m a Flirt,” with its socially acceptable lyrics, “When it come down to these hos/ I don’t love ’em/ We don’t cuff em….That’s why these niggas can’t stand em.” Jive Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment, employs him with no qualms, despite his pending child pornography charges and constant use of one of the most offensive words in the English language.

American Express Co., Staples Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. and General Motors Corp. have all stated they were pulling their advertisements from Imus’s program. MSNBC has announced that they will no longer be airing the program.

Nevermind that Imus was a staunch supporter of Harrold Ford’s failed 2006 Senate campaign, denouncing the racist undertones in the Republican National Committee’s attack ads. He was also one of the first national icons to call for aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and to openly address the problems race was playing. In 1998, after the James Byrd lynching in Texas, while Congress dragged its feet and other radio hosts cracked jokes, Imus spoke solemnly about his disgust for the deed and contempt for the culprits. Clearly a double standard exists between performers and shock jockeys, or between – and God forbid we acknowledge its existence – blacks and whites.

I wrote last semester about the problem of intolerant racism facing American Muslims, specifically regarding Keith Ellison’s election as a congressman in Minnesota. We are, as a nation, facing a problem of overtolerance, in addition to intolerance.

It is the ludicrous notion that if you’re part of an ethnic, sexual or religious group, anything you say isn’t offensive. It’s why comedians obnoxiously mention their gay partners, Jewish mothers and Italian cousins, as if each group has one unique experience and by having shared in it, any remark made cannot be offensive.

We will never treat each other as equals if we aren’t held to equal standards. Sometimes people have had enough, but other times, you just look stupid getting mad.

Before jumping all over an offensive white shock jockey for calling someone a nappy ho, let’s attack the record label supporting an indicted pedophile who’s rhyming about niggas and hos.

Kirstein is a member of the class of 2009.



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