Apologies Are Not Enough, Don Imus

CNN just reported that radio host Don Imus will be suspended for two weeks starting Monday, April 16, based on an announcement from NBC. Imus recently made racist remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team — he called the players “nappy-haired hos.”

The NY Times today published a transcript of Imus’ appearance on Al Sharpton’s radio show where Imus tries to defend his racist remarks. Imus acknowledged on the program that he’d gone “way too far.”

The AP’s Jocelyn Noveck also writes today on a subject that relates to efforts to hold AsianWeek accountable for its publication of hate speech:

“I don’t care about an apology,” said Angela Burt-Murray, editor in chief of Essence magazine, who’s been one of the stronger voices speaking out against Imus’ characterization of the Rutgers women’s basketball team. “You’re not a child on the playground. You’re an adult who needs to take responsibility for his actions. And there need to be consequences.”

The public apology has merely become a quick fix, Burt-Murray said, to get back to business as quickly as possible. “Michael Richards apologizes. We move on. Mel Gibson apologizes. We move on,” she said. “When does it stop? When do WE make it stop?”

For one of the nation’s top feminist activists as well, Imus’ efforts at public remorse are pointless.

“It’s completely hollow,” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, who called his words “beyond racist and sexist.” Her organization launched a drive Sunday for members to contact Imus’ corporate bosses at CBS Corp. and NBC Universal to demand his firing—and she says a few thousand have responded so far.

“This guy is just trying to get himself out of trouble,” said Gandy. “It’s hard to take him seriously when you look at his past. He’s not a first-time offender. The 47th time, I think it rings pretty false.”

This ever-rising chorus of mea culpas leaves Cohen, author of a syndicated ethics column, rather disgusted.

“What passes for a public apology is utterly pro forma,” he said. “It’s: ‘I apologize and I take full responsibility’ … after which the person goes right on and does the same thing as before.”

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