Okay, I admit I sometimes listen to Don Imus’ radio show in the morning on my way to work. He has a good list of politicians and authors on that have interesting points of view. He also has a comedian on who regularly impersonates various people like Dr. Phil, President Clinton, and other celebs. Sometimes he’s funny. Many times he’s cranky, overbearing with the green cleaning stuff, and offensive. Last week, he made some serious racial slurs against the Rutgers women’s basketball team. I didn’t hear them but because I have listened to him off and on, I’m not surprised. In fact, I’m surprised he hasn’t been kicked off the air before. He calls Arabs, “towel heads”, I’ve heard racial stereotypes about the Chinese, gay people, and his sidekicks are worse than he is.
But, what’s the difference between good fun at another’s expense and a slur? When he has someone impersonate Bill Clinton as a womanizer who hates his wife, is that a slur? When he makes fun of the mayor of New Orleans, is that a slur? When he calls various politicians, “lying skunks” is that a slur? Clearly, what he said was a slur and unkind and not the kind of thing any respectful person should say. Unfortunately, I think the line has been that its okay to make fun of folk who aren’t going to be able to rise up and get you off the air. You can make fun of people in all sorts of ways as long as it doesn’t have to do with their race. I suspect that he could have gotten away of all sorts of slurs, just not ones that were racial.
But where is the line? I belabor this because I think we Christians have commonly had our fun with various liberals and wacko (is that a slur?) televangelists. Where is the line? When we start making fun of a person, we’ve crossed the line. Make fun of yourself or your own group and you might be okay. But make fun of others, and you’ve gone too far.
But, you might protest, don’t most of us like Jay Leno and his sort? Jay has people on making fools of themselves (“Jaywalking”) and we laugh. His monologues often contain great laughs at the expense of those making the news in the past few days? Is there a place to laugh at events and the funny misfortunes of others?
Well, wherever we draw the line, name calling and racialization isn’t going to be on the side of good clean fun.