Imus did the rest of us no favors by trying to find redemption by appearing on Al Sharpton's radio show, thus helping legitimize Sharpton's aspiring role as the nation's offensiveness cop. A notion that is itself offensive, given that he made his chops by falsely accusing an innocent man of rape -- something for which he has never apologized -- and that his specialty is inflammatory self-aggrandizement.
The Rutgers basketball team played its assigned role in the saga. Given its pluck and its athletic toughness, the team would have seemed perfectly suited to tell an aging shock jock where to go and leave it that. Instead, it held an hour-long press conference wallowing in just how hurt it was, and then team members headed to "Oprah."
The Imus saga is another sign of how we've degraded the importance of politeness and decorum, and how we try to make up for the loss with political correctness. Imus' show was always boorish, but that was OK until he offended the wrong people at the wrong time with the wrong term. We shouldn't want our public conversation to be limited to the dulcet tones of public radio -- some shouting and barbs are healthy -- but it should have a grounding in civility. On that score, Imus struck out long ago.
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