Monday, April 16, 2007

T&A is Not the Way

Missouri State University students, Tyler Barnes and Andrew Garton, are running for student body president and vice president respectively. Their signs, chalk art and T-shirts were everywhere on campus today, as were the paraphernalia of their opponents. What set Tyler and Andrew apart, was their slogan: T&A all the way.

I hear tell that their slogan caused quite a stir among faculty and students. Gee, couldn’t see that coming. It’s no wonder. College students are known for immature and outrageous behavior. We are no longer limited to such demonstrations to the 19- to 23-year-old crowd. American watched as Don Imus told his last tale this past week and ended a long-standing shock jock radio show.

We Americans love our controversy. Come one come all to see the circus show freaks: the bearded lady, Jojo the dog-faced boy, and our poorly talented nitwits who choke up our airwaves with their fraternal antics.

Tyler Barnes and Andrew Garton, Don Imus and Howard Stern, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter all the right to say what they want. We should fight for them to be able to do so. That is, we should protect them from an overzealous government who pushes to contain what they believe is inappropriate speech. As for Imus losing his job, that is up to the listeners and advertisers. If we do not like what he says then we do not have to listen, nor do the advertisers have to sponsor him. It’s as simple as that.

It boggles my mind why anyone besides an intoxicated fraternity bunch would sport the T&A shirts. Why we put up with Jesse Jackson’s anti-semitism or Rush Limbaugh’s famous hate-filled “feminazi” labels or Ann Coulter’s gay-bashing is beyond me. For some reason, these characters have the ear of the media and the world of journalism beats down their doors to get their irrational input on serious issues that really matter. We should not boycott Don Imus as much as we should forget the Jacksons, Sharptons, Limbaughs and Coulters of the world. Their bigotry and hatred add little to real discourse.

Today, Oprah had an engaging dialogue about hate speech, spurred on by the Don Imus ordeal. The point was that this issue is bigger than Imus. He is merely a product of a larger problem. Hate speech has permeated our culture and is common place. We celebrate those who spew hate and bigotry. I do it too. My music library is full of all kinds of music, including hip hop and rap. Some of it is good and some is not suitable for children. Maybe it’s not really suitable for me either. Maybe I should not listen or purchase music that routinely refers to women as hos and bitches. I’ve already discounted Jackson, Sharpton, Limbaugh and Coulter. How much harder would it be to take it a little further?

Assuming that the government does not interfere, we are free to stop listening or to turn the television off. We don’t have to support any news program that always runs to Al Sharpton or Ann Coulter for a nasty little sound byte, but then where would we turn for our televised enternewsment (or is it newsertainment?)

For my part, I’m not so interested in supporting these nationally celebrated bigots. Yes, I call them bigots and I maintain that I am using the term fairly. Nor did I vote for Tyler Barnes and Andrew Garton. Their T-shirts lost them my vote. Strike one for my wife and daughter, mother and grandmother. I didn’t call for any heads to roll, but for people to simply vote for the other guys. The worst thing we can do to people like Jesse Jackson and Rush Limbaugh is to have them fade into obscurity, where there are no television cameras or radio microphones around. The airways would be better off without these hate jocks yammering about. Maybe the world would be a better place if we didn’t worship at the feet of musicians who degrade their women.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your right. Sometimes we need to take a look at ourselves and wonder if we are contributing to the hate and bigotry. I might not agree with folks and I can stand up for what I believe but I don't have to do it in a hateful way. Coach Boone (whom I actually met) said in the movie "Remember the Titans", said, "You might not like each other, but you will respect each other." To make the world a better place, sometimes we need to start with ourselves.