Where are the First Amendment defenders in all this? They have fled Imus as if he's radioactive. Jackson suggested that the famous journalists who appear on Imus stop showing up in order to register their displeasure over his remarks. Will they? Most are liberals who might be expected to share the outrage over Imus' comments. But all have egos and the stroking they get from Imus, along with the feedback they receive from those who matter to them, may overcome any reluctance they might otherwise have to appear on his show.
During the 1980s, social conservatives who tried to control pornography, including that subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts, were told such things were the price we must all pay for a "healthy First Amendment." Artists must be free to express themselves. If certain people object to what is on TV, they can change channels, or turn it off.
Why aren't these keepers of the First Amendment flame coming to the defense of Don Imus? It's because they have a double standard. Evangelical Christians, practicing Roman Catholics, politically conservative Republicans, home-schoolers and others who are not in favor among the liberal elite are frequent targets for the left. Anything may be said about them, and it frequently is. But let someone insult the left's "protected classes," be they African Americans, homosexuals or to a lesser extent, adherents to the religion of "global warming," and they must be silenced and punished.
Was Don Imus racially insensitive and offensive? According to my standards, he was. But my standards no longer matter. They have been thrown overboard in favor of a different philosophy. Call it "Anything Goes." Look up the lyrics to that classic Cole Porter song and you have the mentality that passes for contemporary communication and entertainment.
If the Imus case went to trial, no jury in the land would convict him because the prosecutor would not have a universal standard by which to hold him accountable.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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