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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Don Imus & The Rap Debate

Long-time radio host Don Imus was fired this past Thursday (Read MSNBC's article here), 1 week after making highliy controversial and derogatory comments towards the Rutgers' womens basketball team. On his radio show which he has hosted for 30 years, Imus refered to members of the Rutgers' womens basketball team as "nappy-headed hos". His televised version of the show was also pulled from MSNBC's lineup. Imus did issue a public apology and meet with the womens' team since his remarks.

Imus, a radio shock jock, has hosted a rather controversial show for years, not quite in the same way Howard Stern has, but offering political jabs and "locker room humor". It brings up the topics of free speech, and yes, now rap music. The latest discussions have started to bring up the usual debate; why's it ok for record companies to promote rappers who use the same terms and worse in their music? CNN Headline News and other news stations showed debate panels on the subject. One guest said it's the context in which the term was used, where Imus slandered the Rutgers' womens team, while rap music is rappers talking about circumstances they have come from.

The other side of this now "racial debate", is the audiences who are affected by the comments. It's doubtful that "youngsters" listen to the Don Imus radio show, while rap music plays to and is bought by a younger, more impressionable crowd. One news channel memtioned that young people listening to rap music are more likely to engage in violence. (It should be also noted that Don Imus engages in charitable work and provides a ranch-style farm camp for children to learn about responsibility and hard work). Many people will use this as a new way to say rap music creates violence in children, causes people to kill, and generaly promotes negative images in society. But it's best to always remember music is music, entertainment is entertainment and people make their own choices in life. At the same time, when your words reach millions its a touchy situation, because of the widespread effects they can have. Remarks which slander an organized team of women are just that, and Imus received the appropriate punishment for his words.

This debate is far from over as politcal figures and scholars and news anchors continue to press on.

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