It is interesting to me that yet another personality is being dragged through the coals. I used to listen to Imus quite a bit but in the last few years his show has basically become an infomercial for his salsa, mugs, jackets and other products. There is rarely a 10 min spot in which one of them is not plugged. If you add to that that much of the rest of the time is spent spewing his wife's pseudo-intellectual pseudo-scientific drek in trying to keep people from getting vaccinated well it just isn't worth my drive time. I would rather turn the radio off.
Still there is some ironic humor in what has happened. In the last 5 years he has chosen to get in bed with the Chris Mathews, John Kerry, et al crowd and it seems that he is paying the price now. If he had real power like Byrd, or Clinton (pick one) perhaps they would just look the other way (with the typical double standard) but since he doesn't and he is just on the outskirts of the group he is really paying for his choice of an audience.
As for what he said. It was certainly unacceptable from the standpoint of a work conversation. Clearly yellow or even red zone but in the context of a comedy routine? I could see how it would be a mild irritant to the ladies on the team but lets be honest here. They are College level competitive athletes. If they haven't been called far worse and in specific intentional context I would be surprised. I know my coaches let alone the spectators were not delicate with us. I think people are doing an injustice to them by forcing them to be outraged. These women are competent, resilient, tough, intelligent and capable or they wouldn't be in College at Rutgers and wouldn't be competing (successfully or not) at the national level. In the real scheme of things being forced into victim-hood is probably more damaging to them than idle ramblings of a senile talk show host with a shrinking audience of self hating apologists with weekly visiting friends.
When I was a kid (I guess about 7) my parents went as part of a church group to Mississippi (and brought me along) to serve as activists, volunteers and monitors to help support the right of people to vote . I vaguely remember the night we left in a hurry. Several other people (young guys) in our group stumbled into the group cabin bloody and beaten. It was pretty traumatic for me and though I can't remember details I do remember that we almost immediately left back to Pittsburgh. I suppose that we allowed ourselves to be intimidated but I would like to think that my parents chose my safety over anything else. Now later in my life I realize that what I saw was a very minor and almost negligible piece of the overall violence that was occurring in the south in that time and I cannot begin to appreciate the hardship, fear and determination of the people that had no choice but to stay and fight for their own rights. This has certainly left an echo.
I think the national news coverage and obsession of this particular incident does two things.
First and on the positive side it shows how far we have come. The fact that injudicious use of words could start such a firestorm of condemnation (justified or not) means that we have clearly entered a different stage of the dialog. If you compare this to what was occurring forty or even twenty years ago the difference is stark.
On a negative side focusing on items like this obfuscates actual acts of bigotry that are still occurring regardless of the group that is initiating the racism.
In closing give the athletes some credit they are undeniably a lot tougher than they are being portrayed and making them victims harms them more than the initial attack. As for Imus himself... Who really cares???