SHAME ON RACIST RADIO
Native women, and all of us, have a right – more so, a duty – to be outraged by the racist adaptation of the vintage answer to the question, “What makes a real Alaskan?” No one can look inside the head of the radio talk guy who brought the inexcusable words onto the airwaves – but no difference. If he thought he was saying something “funny” – he needs to redefine funny.
Yes, I’m more open minded than once I was. Whether that’s good or bad is debatable. But open minded and empty minded are two different things. It’s like “tolerance.” Many folks will unthinkingly tell us tolerance is always a good thing. But it is not. Hopefully, we can agree we should all be intolerant of all manner of bad things – and that includes intolerance of racism broadcast on the radio.
To put the kindness possible spin on what happened, perhaps the radio guy was simply trying to gain admittance to “shock radio,” and the racial import and hurt of what he was broadcasting wasn’t immediately realized due to his ambition to shock his way into shock radio money from stardom. But words – and actions – do have consequence. One can’t put toothpaste back into the tube, and neither can words or actions be put back from whence they came. The whole shock radio scene, and what happened in Anchorage, is one small part of an increasing societal crudeness.
In the age of most peoples’ grandparents, the movie heartthrob Clark Gable spoke the words – what we thought were crude words then - “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” in the movie Gone with the Wind. That was pretty tame stuff compared to the crudeness we routinely hear - not just in the media, including shock radio and shock TV - but also in what used to be the “polite society” of social intercourse.
Nowadays men too often don’t care what the say in front of ladies, and “ladies” too often don’t blush when they hear it, and too often speak with equal – sometimes more than equal – crudeness. Our children too often practice crudeness one-upmanship in front of adults and there’s little or no consequence. Anything goes. Everyone seems to be continually pushing the envelope of what can be said. Everyday we all get a little more desensitized. Then comes along some racially insensitive jerk who apparently wants to win the crudeness contest, no matter who suffers. He spouts off on the radio, and those with a smidgen of conscience are rightfully offended. As Pope Benedict said today during his visit to the White House, “Freedom is not only a gift, its a summons to personal responsibility.” I think that can apply to so-called Freedom of Speech on the radio.
Shame on anyone who by action or inaction supports racial assaults on the radio, or anywhere else. Shame also on any of us who contribute to a culture of crudeness.