Barbara Walters: Slut!

Media Matters has an awesome hate speech round-up, focusing on bigoted idiots other than Imus, including Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, Michael Smerconish, and John Gibson.

My personal favorites:

On the September 9, 2005, edition of his radio show, Beck referred to survivors of Hurricane Katrina who remained in New Orleans as “scumbags.” Also, after acknowledging that nobody “in their right mind is going to say this out loud,” Beck attacked victims of the disaster and the families of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, saying: “I didn’t think I could hate victims faster than the 9-11 victims.”

On the October 24, 2005, broadcast of his radio program, Boortz suggested that a victim of Hurricane Katrina housed in an Atlanta hotel consider prostitution. “If that’s the only way she can take care of herself,” Boortz posited, “it sure beats the hell out of sucking off the taxpayers.”

Limbaugh noted on August 9, 2004, than in recent television appearances, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd appeared “just joyless,” “miserable,” and “did not seem happy at all.” Limbaugh then concluded: “Must be a guy. Isn’t it always a guy when a woman’s unhappy?”

On the January 15 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly said of Shawn Hornbeck — who was abducted at the age of 11, held for four years, and recently found in Missouri — that “there was an element here that this kid liked about this circumstances” and that he “do[esn't] buy” “the Stockholm syndrome thing.” O’Reilly also said: “The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn’t have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted.” When fellow Fox News host Greta Van Susteren pointed out that “[s]ome kids like school,” O’Reilly replied: “Well, I don’t believe this kid did.”

On the March 16 broadcast of his radio show, Savage played audio clips from Barbara Walters’ interview with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, portions of which aired on the March 16 edition of ABC’s Good Morning America, and called her a “double-talking slut.” Savage added: “She’s an empty mind-slut. She’d peddle anything for a ratings point.” Savage went on to call Walters a “mental prostitute” and said, “I think that the woman is vermin. I think she’s dirt.”

On the November 23, 2005, edition of The Radio Factor, Smerconish interviewed Soo Kim Abboud, author of Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers — and How You Can Too (Penguin, 2005). Smerconish asserted that “if everyone follows Dr. Abboud’s prescription … you’re going to have women who will leave the home and now get a great-paying job, because you will have gotten them well educated.” He continued, “But then they’re not going to be around to instill these lessons in their kids. In other words, it occurs to me that perhaps you’ve provided a prescription to bring this great success to an end.”

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8 thoughts on “Barbara Walters: Slut!

  1. I found this quote by Harvard Professor Daniel Gilbert which, while not written about the Imus thing, nicely sums up my thoughts:

    “We live in a world in which people are beheaded, imprisoned, demoted, and censured simply because they have opened their mouths, flapped their lips, and vibrated some air. Yes, those vibrations can make us feel sad or stupid or alienated. Tough shit. That’s the price of admission to the marketplace of ideas. Hateful, blasphemous, prejudiced, vulgar, rude, or ignorant remarks are the music of a free society, and the relentless patter of idiots is how we know we’re in one. When all the words in our public conversation are fair, good, and true, it’s time to make a run for the fence.”

    The people spoke. The advertisers withdrew. And suddenly networks could no longer support what heretofore had been just fine by them.

    Guess the system works! Unfortunately, this time I think they got the wrong guy. Yeah, his remark was beyond the pale and ugly and cruel, but I don’t think it was malicious. (Not that I’m crying for the guy, mind you.)

    It’s just that I’m going to miss the relentless patter of those particular idiots.

  2. I’m not going to miss it at all.

    And yeah, I think the system worked here–don’t think for a second that I’m promoting censorship from anywhere other than the culture/marketplace.

    But dude, I don’t think they “got the wrong guy.” Here’s the thing: I say plenty of stupid, offensive things. Off the top of my head, I say “retarded” all the time. I know that bothers you and plenty of other people I respect, but I still do it.

    I know and you know I’m a compassionate person who doesn’t hate developmentally delayed people. But to be brutally honest, that word remains in my lexicon–not in every situation, but in some–because I just don’t care that much. I don’t feel passionately enough about it to check myself. Partly that’s because I think it’s an inherently funny word, partly because it was SO taboo when I was in grade school that my inner child feels like a rebel when I say it now… and partly because I just don’t think about whose feelings it will hurt when I say it. That’s not something I like admitting about myself, but it’s the reality, and I can’t make the rest of this argument if I don’t acknowledge that.

    It would NEVER occur to me to call someone an N-word or a faggot or a nappy-headed ho because nowhere in my subconscious do I secretly think anything is intrinsically wrong with being black, gay, or female. I don’t have to work at avoiding those words, because they don’t even come to mind. I could say a thousand shitty things about Condoleeza Rice, for instance, but I wouldn’t mention anything about her race or gender in that tirade–even if I were deliberately going for the lowest blow that occurred to me–because I don’t think those things have anything to do with why she’s awful. Such slurs just wouldn’t come to mind.

    Imus was, for starters, talking about girls who are the friggin’ opposite of awful, and for whatever reason, he decided he needed to denigrate them via their race and gender–not to mention insinuations about their sexuality. What that tells me is that he’s got problems with black people, women, and probably lesbians lurking right under the surface.* Those words were right there for him, not only coming to mind but coming out of his mouth. Why? Why on earth would that be the first thing you’d think to say about those young women? Why on earth would you then keep on about how unfeminine and unpleasant and, you know, black they are? The only possible reason I can think of is that he’s a damned bigot, no matter how well he may hide it, most days. And from what I’ve seen, he didn’t even usually hide it that well.

    So I’m delighted to see him go, and I don’t think the response of the marketplace was at all inappropriate.

    *Does this mean, by extension, that I have problems with developmentally delayed people? I honestly don’t know. The parallel’s not direct, because I don’t even think of “retarded” as meaning anything but “stupid.” As in “willfully or thoughtlessly stupid,” not “congenitally slower to learn than average.” I certainly don’t think I believe, even subconsciously, that developmentally delayed people are less valuable human beings than I am–but at the same time, as someone who IS prone to intellectual snobbery, I certainly might do well to consider whether something nastier and more judgmental lurks underneath my continued use of the word.

    Somehow, I don’t think Imus is engaged in the same kind of introspection.

  3. Just wonderin’ … did you ever listen to his show? Even once? YouTube clips don’t count. He’s not a blinkered Rush Limbaugh or a Michael Savage by any means.

    I found the banter on that show entertaining and satirical and yes, it gave you that little frisson of a bad girl thrill to be laughing at that stuff. It’s so wrong, and therefore so funny. If I thought it was genuine, I would NOT have found it funny at all. Did you never laugh at Archie Bunker?

  4. I laughed my ass off at Archie Bunker, because the viewer was never supposed to identify with his bigotry. The point was to make fun of him making fun of other people. And yeah, you loved him anyway, the same way you love your bigoted grandpa, but you don’t ever think what he’s saying is okay.

    I just don’t think you’re the typical Imus listener–or even if you are, there are enough listeners who are genuinely racist, sexist and homophobic, going, “THANK GOD someone is speaking for me!” to make me really uncomfortable. I’ll admit that maybe you’re right that that applies more to Rush/Savage fans than Imus fans–you’re definitely right that I’ve never listened to the show.

    But then, I’ve never attended a cockfight, either, and I’m pretty sure watching one wouldn’t make me understand why other people enjoy them.

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