Letter to the editor

Free speech a bad excuse

Dear editor,

I found the April 16 article entitled “Don Imus, I salute you” by Shelley Blundell to be somewhat disturbing. As everyone knows, Imus recently made an appalling remark about the predominately black Rutgers basketball team. Shelley Blundell is critically apologetic, meaning she doesn’t agree with the comments Imus made but still thinks he has the right to say whatever he wants, no matter who he offends. She even calls him a “hero” at one point.

Shelley Blundell’s argument is typical of the “free-speech libertarians” who believe the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis have a right to promote a race war. As a matter of fact, she brags about how the First Amendment entitles both the Ku Klux Klan and people like Martin Luther King Jr. the same right. What Shelley, as well as other “free speech libertarians” fail to acknowledge is that the KKK wants to use violence against innocent people, while Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about ending that same violence against innocent people. The concept of “freedom of speech” for oppressed people is completely different from that of the oppressors; therefore, they should never be equated.

To be fair, Shelley points out that she does not support Imus’s comments, even calling them “racist” and “stupid,” but she then stoops to his level by calling him a “drunk hillbilly.” Simply calling someone a “drunk hillbilly” for making a racist comment can have its own negative consequences, too. In a way, it is implying that all rural whites are racist (which is not true), so it’s “OK” (but racism is never OK).

No, Imus is not a drunk hillbilly. Imus is another right-wing, radio blowhard who enjoys provocation by spewing reactionary bigotry. Just like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage as well as Akron’s own Howie Chizek and Bob Golic, Imus makes foul comments about women, immigrants and people of color all of the time. What caused controversy is that Imus’ comments were caught on television and not just radio. Limbaugh and Savage were also fired from television for offensive comments they made, but they still have their own radio programs where they make similar statements that Imus made on a daily basis.

In a climate of rampant racism on college campuses, student journalists should be more careful in what they say they support. Just last Martin Luther King Day, some white college students from Texas took vulgar pictures of themselves mocking African Americans.

A few white students here at Kent State posted disgusting comments on the Stater Web site about black Kent State students in response to an incident involving police brutality. When all Kent State students, workers and faculty should have united in anger at the police, a few ignorant students decided to scapegoat certain students instead. Student journalists should speak out against racism, not support it, in any way.

Jeremy Radabaugh

KSU Alumnus, International Socialist Organization