Prejudice personified

Our cover story this week ("With open arms,” page 16) profiles Chicoans who promote diversity. Recently, a couple of radio loudmouths have reminded us why such work is so important.

Don Imus, by calling Rutgers women’s basketball players “nappy-headed hoes,” has drawn a two-week suspension from his talk show, though that won’t stop him from appearing on other people’s shows.

Roseanne Barr was just as insensitive on her radio program when she branded gays and lesbians as “narcissistic.” ("They don’t care about minimum wage; they don’t care about any other group other than their own self….") Ironically, she capped her rant by saying she’s “just sick of all the divisiveness, it’s not getting any of us anywhere.” How true.

Is anyone really surprised when people who shoot from the lip get clipped by their quips? Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Richards, Tim Hardaway, even Chico’s Steve Bertagna were the victims of their own unsavory utterances. Shock jocks consistently skirt the edge of decency, so it was just a matter of time before Imus (or Barr) went too far. Watch out, Michael Savage, you could be next.

We think it’s time for Imus to retire to his ranch and enjoy caviar by the fire. Talk radio has enough blowhards without him. But even if he apologizes his way back on the air, does it really matter?

Imus is not the problem. Barr is not the problem. Unchecked ignorance is the problem. It is important to challenge prejudice, but it’s just as important to challenge our own prejudices. Humans are tribal by nature, us and them—thus all those “ists” in the lexicon, from nationalists to racists. Throw stones at Imus if you wish, but make sure you’re not living in a glass village.