In his most recent HuffPost piece, John Ridley mocks Al Sharpton for claiming he "wasn't really talking about [Mitt] Romney when he used the phrase 'the one Mormon running for office'...[but] was actually contrasting himself with Christopher Hitchens." According to news reports, however, Sharpton said no such thing. Ridley is apparently confusing Sharpton's explanation that he was alluding to Hitchens' atheism when he opined "those of us who believe in God" will not vote for Romney. So although Sharpton deserves much criticism for his aggressive opportunism and faux indignation, Ridley misses the mark here, and enables the loudmouth cleric to escape essentially unscathed.
No semantic argument about what constitutes censorship can conceal the effort Sharpton recently made to silence Don Imus, even though Imus hadn't violated any rule. But instead of exposing this failure to distinguish between permissible and impermissible speech, Ridley callously gloats: "There are no tears shed in the Ridley household over the loss of Don Imus from waves of either radio or TV."
As for why Ridley is ignoring the stench of arbitrary punishment for which Sharpton is largely responsible, it might be because Ridley is a smug beneficiary of Imus's firing. About his appearance on MSNBC yesterday morning, Ridley writes it was "in Imus's old slot, I sweetly say."
Ridley's career opportunity, however promising it is for the lucky guy himself, comes at the expense of a man's livelihood, and the public's option to tune in to a popular commentator. Sharpton led a pack of bullies who believe its GREAT MENTAL ANGUISH should determine what the rest of us can hear and see. When he should be decrying this actual outrage, Ridley bemoans an imaginary one instead.
I invite Ridley to admit he erred, or produce a quote that corroborates his so far unsupported accusation. He might also explain exactly why he's so pleased by the lynching of Imus.