I wrote the below before reading Marty Kaplan's post at 8:40 PM Wednesday night. He said it all and far more brilliantly, so those of you have read Kaplan, think of this as a lame P.S. (Why send it along, then, you might ask. Hey, I have nothing against the lame!)
I would defend with my life Don Imus and everyone else's First Amendment right to utter what I might consider the most offensive -- BUT where is the leadership, in this case at NBC and CBS, that legislates: "Go get us ratings, be provocative, but this is our network, you work for us, this and this we will not tolerate; here are the lines you will not cross. Cross them and you are out of here!"
This could be an historic, watershed moment if American leaders in every field, in every business, were to see the opportunity as well as the responsibility to use this incident as a teaching moment, an opportunity to hold up a mirror to Americans everywhere and show them the truth of racism in our culture. And then exercise their right to clean up the areas in which they have control -- and rid them of the demeaning and the dehumanizing hostility toward race and gender.
The problem we face is endemic in our society. Imus was the boil reflective of the disease and the unending coarsening of our culture. He lanced himself and I pray we will see some long term good come out of it.
In a late update, MSNBC has dropped its simulcast of Imus, with these words: "... it''s about doing what's right." See what happens when I pray?