But Imus is hardly a martyr either. Simply because it's wrong - as he now admits - for blacks to insult black women, that doesn't make it right for whites to do it.
What makes this whole spectacle so repugnant is that, rather than ushering in some new set of rules, it merely demonstrates how the existing rules remain perfectly intact.
Is this current kabuki dance really so unfamiliar? Bottom-feeding opportunists like Sharpton and Jesse Jackson rile up a lot of racial outrage, and guilt-ridden white liberal journalists go into a feeding frenzy. Politicians and corporations start running for cover.The media establishment needs to prove how racially enlightened it is, the activists need a trophy, the advertisers wet their pants over bad publicity. Competing media outlets ramp up coverage of their colleague's desperate attempts to extricate himself, which only emboldens the critics to seek more limelight and sends the politicians even deeper into their rat holes.
The cycle continues until the desired scalp is delivered. Then everything returns to normal until the next full moon, when the werewolves once again must feed.
There's no need to cry for Imus - not only because what he said was wrong but also because he's been a star player in precisely this game for years. Indeed, some hilarious attempts to paint Don Imus as a conservative notwithstanding, one of the great ironies here is that Imus is the bad boy of the elite liberals' locker room. That most of his buddies left him high and dry at the first sign of trouble isn't a sign that there are any "new rules" in place. It's a sign of how well the old ones are working.