Imus, not surprisingly, has finally gotten the axe. It seems that all the bowing and scraping did him no good in the end, except to provoke his attackers like a wounded zebra provokes the lions.
I touched on a point yesterday that I want to amplify on today, because Imus' firing shows how important it is. First, let me reiterate something: I couldn't care less about Imus himself. As I alluded to yesterday, I think he's an unfunny, no-talent, egomaniacal hack whose main contribution to the history of radio broadcasting is a lousy western wardrobe, truly awful hair, and gum-chewing on the air. (And the last thing a marble-mouth like Imus needed was to jam something else into his mouth to make him unintelligible.) It means nothing to me whether he ever works again, because he's a crummy broadcaster.
But Imus didn't get fired because he's a bad broadcaster. Nor did he get fired because he said something far beyond the normal bounds of his show. He got fired because a lot of people in this country are frightened of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and are willing to pay them protection money. And Sharpton and company decided it was time to nail somebody. But Sharpton and Jackson are not the only ones in on the racket. Wherever the forces of political correctness are at work to punish heretics, the same same tactics are on display, allowing hucksters like Sharpton, Jackson, Abe Foxman, the ACLU, GLAAD, and a million other interest groups to cash in and build the fear factor.
Which is why we need Ann Coulter and a thousand more like her. As you may recall, Coulter ended up in the middle of a scrum last month by using the word "faggot" in relationship to John Edwards. Needless to say, she was pilloried by the Left as an intolerant bigot. But when conservatives also turned around and dogpiled on Coulter in an effort to show how golly-gee sincere and open-minded and tolerant they really are, they may have padded their benevolence cred with liberals (and a lot of good that will do them), but they did so at the expense of the far larger, more important battle. Unfortunately, by making the issue only the (admittedly offensive) content of what Coulter said and agreeing that nobody must ever utter (gasp) that word, they short-sightedly agreed to play the game on the liberal field using the liberal ball and liberal rulebook, while hoping to merely scratch together a few runs of their own. Sadly, that's a huge mistake, and they miss the bigger picture.
Listen, here's the deal. Hate crimes laws are coming in this country. They are coming. Another bill is already being seriously considered in Congress. Our country might be months away from making certain viewpoints illegal. And make no mistake, it will be mainstream conservative and Christian viewpoints that will be outlawed when it happens. Think I'm exaggerating? In Canada, which already has such laws, people are being prosecuted for merely criticizing homosexuality. Every time a conservative jumps on the political correctness bandwagon in setting fire to the effigy du jour (even if the effigy was dead wrong, like Imus), they bring this agenda one step closer to reality.
There's only one way I see out of this, and so far Coulter's about the only one who seems to get it. In order to preserve true freedom for normal people to have even civil conversations about controversial matters, the boundary lines are going to have to be moved back out to somewhere approaching sanity. Those who jump out front in pushing the markers back will take a lot of hits, and will say a lot of offensive things in the process. Some of them will say repugnant things. Even hateful things. Things we don't agree with. Things we don't like. Many will have to go well beyond what is proper in order for that which is proper (though controversial) and mainstream to have a comfortable place on the playing field again.
There was a time when people actually understood that things like the First Amendment protected the right to be offensive, and in order to get back to that ideal, a lot of people are going to have to be offended again and just learn to deal with it. People who care about freedom and have public platforms--lots of them--are going to have to start jamming some sharp sticks into these politically correct beehives and poking them around. The anger-mongers and thought police need to be stripped of their power. What is needed is for "politically incorrect" people to start, in large numbers, saying politically incorrect things and then asking, "So what are you gonna do about it?" One by one, the shock troops of tolerance (to borrow my friend Jerry Newcombe's phrase) can nibble away all dissension. But if they're made to face a gale of political incorrectness, they will prove utterly ineffective and lose their power.
When Coulter got hammered for making her statements, she hammered back. It's the only way to disarm these people. It's the only way to restore some semblance of free speech to this country. Did I like what she said about John Edwards? No. Would I have said it? No. I didn't think it was one of her greater moments. But so far only Ann seems to get what this battle is all about, why it's important--nay, imperative, and how to face it. She survived her controversy with her career completely intact--as opposed to Imus who pleaded and apologized and now is as done as a burnt steak. She knows what she's doing, and she knows what she's dealing with.
I know this idea is impractical, but it encapsulates the gist of what I'm getting at: I think every talk show host in the country ought to band together and each week agree on one horrific, politically incorrect thing they're all going to say on their shows. They can't all be fined, boycotted or fired. Every week, they need to trot out another fire-starter in unison and just let everybody be offended. After it's been going on long enough, we'll see that the republic has survived even after the horrible viewpoint was voiced. And we'll see that the republic has survived without the Perennially Indignant class being able to enforce their orthodoxy at sword point.
Don't kid yourselves. This is an organized effort to take control of what you think. We don't need less Ann Coulters. We need thousands more of them. For the sake of freedom, political correctness must be destroyed--from every side, liberal and conservative. And that's only going to come through a tsunami of political incorrectness that the grievance-peddlers are utterly unequipped to deal with.
Related Tags: Don Imus, Ann Coulter, political correctness, hate crimes