Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hos of Hymie town and the nature of hypocrisy

Don Imus was handed a two week suspension. This is well short of what I would have handed him if I had been his boss, but I guess I really did not expect to see his head on a platter. As I stated yesterday, no employer should put up with the stement made by Imus. This, however, does not cure the hypocrisy that has been running around the country. The Rev. Jessie Jackson lead a very small protest of Mr Imus yesterday, 50 persons or less, and then showed up on NBC News to criticize Mr Imus this morning. Yes, the same Jessie Jackson who reffered to New York City as "Hymie town" when he ran for President in 1984. Jeez, did he really think that people would forget that ? Or is he so insensitive in his thinking that he believes that a slur against a religious minority who has been persucted for about 2,000 years is not as vile as a racial epithet ? At least Imus has an African American as his executive producer, how many Jews were running the Jackson campaign in 1984 ?

None of this is to excuse Imus. There is no excuse for him. There is forgiveness, which Rev Jackson and Rev Sharpton seem to have forgotten they are in the business of handing out, but that does not mean that Imus should keep his job. I am reminded of the escaped convict who is baptised in the movie "Brother Where Art Thou" and, upon being told by the preacher that he is forgiven, feels that his prison sentence has been commuted. As George Clooney observed to him in that movie, "You may be O.K. with the Lord, but the state of Mississippi still has a few things to say about you."My point is (I guess) that any criticism of anyone on this particular front is bound to be tinged with hypocrisy. The great defense lawyer, Clarence Darrow once said in a final argument, " I'm not going to stand here and tell you that I don't think you are prejudiced, that's all we humans are is just one big bundle of prejudices."

The first time I recall hearing the term "HO" in a humorous context was when the black comedian/actor Eddie Murphy used to play a book selling pimp on the Saturday Night Live show more than twenty years ago. The character's name was "Velvet Jones" and, as I recall, he had written a book called "How to be a Ho". I am going to check today and see if it is on Youtube. At any rate, Murphy used a very exagerated dialect for this character. Not all that different from the dialect used by the actor who played "Kingfish" on the old Amos & Andy show (an aside here ) "If all the women in Texas was as ugly as Saphire momma, the Lone Ranger gonna be lonely for a long time." That's an old Kingfish joke,it is not very funny in print. It only takes on humor when the character uses his dialect. "How to be a Whore" Is not as funny as "How to be a Ho". If Murphy had used his own speaking voice and called his character "Velvet Jones" instead of exagerating the voice and calling the character "VeVEt Jones'. No one would have laughed.I see no difference in the two comedy styles, except that Murphy's is rawer. Yet, Amos & Andy is banned from television and Eddie Murphy was recently nominated for an Academy Award (for which he was robbed by members of the Academy by a sentimental vote for a old Jewish actor). Did any member of the Academy vote against Murphy because he was black ? My guess is yes. Did anyone vote for Arkin because he was Jewish ? That's not impossible to imagine. Does the fact that I thought that Murphy did a better job than Arkin prove that I'm anti-semetic ? Does the fact that I mentioned that he is Jewish make me anti-semetic ? I hope not.But those issues are always near the surface. I mention them here because my statement about an "old Jewish actor" should have sent a shiver up your spine. It just sounds ugly.it sounds like I have an ax to grind.

So can Eddie Murphy call a woman a "Ho" and give us permission to laugh ? Right now that's the way American Society is set up. As long as Eddie Murhy capitalizes on white prejudice to make money, no one should be shocked when a white commedian slides into tying to get laughs that way also.Again, that does not excuse Imus, it just means that there is a hell of a lot more guilt to go around, that all of us are taineted with hypocisy on this issue, and that we need to reexplore what passes for humor amongst us. And we might start with the fact that only women are called Hos.


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