I personally think that Don Imus’ statements about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team were mean, nasty, uncalled for, and just plain un-cool.
Nevertheless, I think the outcry over them and his firing were not justified. Most of those shrieking were more interested in promoting themselves than actually protecting the women.
Well, someone has managed to actually put me 100% on Imus’ side. One of the players has found an attorney willing to make a swipe at the constitution, and has sued Imus for defamation. (source).
This is only one in a large and wide collection of frivolous defamation actions taking place across the nation. However, the clear nature of the comments was rhetorical hyperbole. There was no false statement of fact, and while identification can be a bit wishy washy, I’m not sure that Imus identified this particular player. Neither will I. I’m disgusted with her. I’m disgusted that she would file this action.
Remember back in the 1980s when the left was the great threat to free speech? Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin had not yet become laughingstocks, speech codes were all the rage on college campuses, and there was this swelling of sentiment that if we didn’t roll back the First Amendment, we would all have our “feelings hurt,” which was (of course) a national crisis. Tipper Gore was the poster child for censorship.
Then the Bush years came around, and the left became the champion of the First Amendment. Bush-era “free speech zones” and restrictive religion-based laws against expression rode a wave of Rovian superstition.
If you watch carefully, you can see the pendulum swinging the other way. Here come the left wing crybabies again. Every hurt feeling must be addressed with a tort suit. Imus must be pilloried.
Just wait and see. If Hillary gets the nomination, just watch a new breed of leftist censorship.
And as I was ridiculed by the left in the 80s and 90s (when I was at the University of Massachusetts) for being a right winger for supporting free speech, I spent the better part of the past decade being criticized for being an America-hating liberal because I believe in the First Amendment (and hate the imperial president who wishes he could repeal it).
I guess that I had better go join the Federalist Society, because the winds of censorship are starting to come from the other direction — and I remain right here where I’ve stood all along — in love with Free Speech and the First Amendment.
Update – Professor Moss has a great comment on this case:
Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to see Imus penniless and Vaughn thriving – but just not at the expense of warping our justice system into a tool of lawless revenge. Verdicts have to be based on law, not on our value judgments about whether we like the plaintiff or the defendant better.
Those cheering on Vaughn’s lawsuit in the name of fighting racism should keep in mind that crony judges bowing to political will have often been the enemy of civil rights, and unbiased letter-of-the-law courts have often been the ally. Is a high-profile, legally-questionable verdict against Don Imus really worth getting in bed with the ugly side of the judicial system? (source)