- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007

Radio ‘relic’

“Civil rights leaders like the Rev. [Al] Sharpton are not going to forgive [fired radio host Don] Imus. Even after Imus apologized on his radio show, Sharpton still called for his firing. …

“Imus has a long history of insulting different ethnic groups and individuals, which is why he is known as a ‘shock jock.’ … Hopefully, this incident will mark the end of the shock jock era, in which foul-mouthed disc jockeys and talk show hosts insult people ruthlessly in the name of entertainment. A much better brand of broadcasting is to treat all callers and guests with respect, even those who have a different point of view. It may not be as ‘entertaining,’ however; it is certainly more enlightening and interesting. Imus, although he is a legitimate talent, is a relic and the sooner that the radio and television industry moves on, the better for everyone involved. …

“Such comments and behavior should be consistently criticized, no matter the source, not only when old, idiotic, washed up white men use the terms.”

— New Orleans talk-radio host Jeff Crouere, writing on “Imus in the Mourning,” April 10 at RingsidePolitics.com


“Jimmy Wales, creator of Wikipedia, and Tim O’Reilly, the man credited with coining the phrase Web 2.0, have proposed a code of conduct for online debate.

“Predictably, [they] have now felt the wrath of the blogosphere themselves.

“For the blogosphere represents an enormous democratic opportunity. … Free expression is now just a click away. But that advantage is surely outweighed by the risk that the blogosphere instead becomes a stale, claustrophobic environment, appealing chiefly to a certain kind of aggressive, point-scoring male — and utterly off-putting to everyone else.

“Ah, but this free-for-all is democratic, say the devotees. … But imagine that public meeting. Would that constitute a democratic debate, or a shouting match in which the loudest, most intimidating voice wins? Surely the more democratic encounter is the meeting properly chaired, allowing everyone their say and ensuring no descent into barroom brawl. That’s certainly how we operate in the real world, so why should the virtual realm be any different?”

— Jonathan Freedland, writing on “The blogosphere risks putting off everyone but point-scoring males,” Wednesday in the Guardian

Pronoun populism

“Fox TV famously and fatuously claims, ‘We report. You decide.’ Decide on what? On what Fox reports? Online polls promise to register what ‘you’ think about the pressing issues of the moment, whereas what’s being presented is an operation whereby someone says, ‘Let’s give them the idea that they are a part of the decision-making process.’

“The next time you see an ad, the odds are increasingly high that it will put ‘you’ in the driver’s seat. ‘Ask your doctor if Prozac/Lipitor/Cialis is right for you’ — almost as if these medications could be custom made for each individual consumer. …

“Perhaps global-scale problems and mass-society populism somehow necessitate this unctuous appeal to the utter specialness of the supposed individual.

“So, whatever happened to the Me Decade? The answer is that nothing happened to it. It mutated quite easily and smoothly into a decade centered on another narcissistic pronoun. Which pronoun is that? You be the judge.”

— Christopher Hitchens, writing on “The You Decade,” April 9 in Slate at www.slate.com

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