Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus n' Andy

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth.
The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.
--Kurt Vonnegut
Novelist and American Icon Kurt Vonnegut has passed at 86 from complications sustained in a fall a few weeks ago.

One of the last great writers to survive WW-2, he was captured in The Battle of the Bulge, and was a POW in Dresden during Allied bombings of that city. The title of his book, “Slaughterhouse-5,” referred to Vonnegut and four fellow prisoner’s who survived the Dresden bombings in an underground meatlocker.

Vonnegut adopted his sisters three kids when she died…which was a clue to the enormity of his heart…and hints of his compassion and understanding of the human condition might be heard in these words:

"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion.
I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. "

Vonnegut will most likely be best remembered for his quirky sense of humor. He once suggested carving these words into a wall of the Grand Canyon as a message for intergalactic travelers in flying saucers: "We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too lazy to try very hard... and too cheap."

Vonnegut's humor had a macabre sense of irony: "One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us. "

How prophetic, when juxtposed with the continuing Don Imus idiocy…MSNBC decided it can’t take the heat, and kicked Imus out of the kitchen, firing him from his TV simulcast.
Of course that’s all it took for the spineless and mindless to only now pile on with their public denouncements: Hillary Clinton figures the coast is clear to say she’ll not be on his show (psst—Hillary, he’s off the air for while, Mensa.)

Obama Barrack, that prodigal paragon of independent thinking and voice of the people, finally found his voice, ironically on the same day as the MSNBC decision, calling for Imus’ dismissal. Timing is everything, eh, Senator?

Interesting quote, too, from Sen. Barrack, who said, “…as a culture, we really have to do some soul-searching to think about what kind of toxic information are we feeding our kids.”

Does that mean that The Obamarator will be initiating a washing-out of the mouths of his brethren who regularly use such endearing terms as the N-word and the H-word, and the MF-compound pronouns in rap music that is spewed on FM and cable channels?

One other note on this issue---and at the root, we’re talking 1st Amendment, free-speech rights: We all have the right to free speech…and the right to refuse to listen. MSNBC has the right to refuse to provide a stage on which the players play, and Staples and Bigelow Tea have the right to extend or withdraw their marketing dollars as they see fit.

The freedoms we all enjoy and possess come with a price, and that is the responsibility to use them prudently. Whether you yell “fire” in a crowded theater, or describe a squad of female athletes using questionable adjectives, public commentators have a double burden of circumspection in filtering the language we use.

Don Imus is guilty of poor judgment, insensitivity, and mumbling the wrong phrase at the wrong time…but he had/has the right to do so. He said he was just trying to be funny, and the joke went horribly wrong.

Interesting insight on this from our notable quotable of the day, the late Kurt Vonnegut, who said, “the telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.”

Imus may have gotten tripped up on his word use, but he stumbled upon a profound truth: regardless of skin color, everyone’s is pretty thin.

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