US Constitution - Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Imus was not fired by the government.To my knowledge, there was no complaint that the FCC responded to that caused Imus' dismissal. If there were complaints, I didn't hear one word mentioned about it during the media feeding frenzy on Imus' comments regarding the Rutgers Women's Basketball team.
Imus was fired by the private corporation he worked for; that corporation has the right to tell him what he can and cannot say. Sponsors have the right to pull their advertising if they feel they may be harmed by what an on air personality says on his program which they support with their advertising dollars.
The free speech that was apparent on this issue were the protests and calls for Imus' firing. The air waves are public and the public responded. Was it sensationalized? Yes. Was it blown out of proportion? Perhaps. Is there a double standard? Definitely, but that doesn't make the comments made by Imus any less hateful, any less racial, any less sexually degrading to the people on the receiving end. Others have been fired for racially motivated comments, and for this there cannot be a double standard. Firing Imus, whose program was in the top 10 in the country as far as revenue was concerned, showed us that CBS had the guts to do the right thing, in my opinion, regardless of how it was going to affect them financially. Imus was bringing in $15 million annually.
If this is truly where we are headed as a community (and I think it's a good thing) then there has to be continued scrutiny on the truly hateful on air personalities that make a living spewing their hate-filled rhetoric. This cannot end with Imus. Let's keep an eye on the Rush Limbaughs, the Mike Savages, the Glenn Becks, and the Melanie Morgans of the airwaves.