Tuesday, June 24

That's Entertainment!

MY first official act after becoming an official college student--despite my high opinion of myself I had been merely an amateur drug abuser before that--was to drop Philosophy 101, about two weeks in. I remember being grilled about the reasons by my Faculty Advisor, whom I never saw before or after. I can't remember what I told him; I was, naturally enough for a Freshman, living in the dorms, so it wasn't the "My beloved pet dog was killed" routine, which would have to wait until I got my first apartment. I think I just came clean: I couldn't stand Alfred Jules Ayer, or Language, Truth and Logic, which the instructor, a Full Professor, as was common in some intro courses in some departments in them days, had declared would be my intro to his world. He may have been right, but it would be another twelve years before I came to enjoy Ayer, and, besides he (the Prof, not Ayer) had the second-worse case of Drone's Disease I encountered in the whole of pedantry. Plus it was a hot August, and the class was held in a building dating to a century when that month was given over to harvesting milo, not questioning the existence of God (or, as in this case, simply ignoring Him). Despite an average summertime humidity of 110%, Time's Arrow had reduced the wood to dust, unless it was built out of kindling in the first place, and it's certain that whenever it was built window glass was at a premium, perhaps even rationed. For some reason Ernie Pyle Hall--the Journalism building--sticks in my mind. The century would be wrong, but the ambience is right: the place was a Depression-era storehouse renamed and repurposed as a memorial to the great Hoosier war correspondent, presumably because it resembled Ie Shima with furniture.

Anyway, when I read about the latest Imus imbroglio, my first thought, practically, was of Logical Positivism--which, I should add, now joins Phenomenology on my list of Philosophical Schools Which Would Usher In A New Era Of Peace And Understanding, If Only We Could Enforce Them By Law. We are asking the wrong questions about Imus. First, the relevant transcript (we'll need it in a moment):
Warner Wolf: "Defensive back Adam 'Pacman' Jones, recently signed by the Cowboys. Here's a guy suspended all of 2007 following a shooting in a Vegas night club."

Imus: "Well, stuff happens. You're in a night club, for God's sake. What do you think's gonna happen in a night club? People are drinking and doing drugs, there are women there, and people have guns. So, there, go ahead."

Wolf: "He's also been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005."

Imus: "What color is he?"

Wolf: "He's African-American."

Imus: "Well, there you go. Now we know."

Well, now. Imus' defense was that he meant that Jones was being hounded because of his skin color. Grading on a curve (it is Imus, after all) we might note that he did enquire as to Jones' color, not the texture of his hair, which should at least qualify as some slight improvement. On the other hand, the explanation requires us to believe that Imus has developed some degree of sympathy for the accused miscreant, other than himself and David Shuster.

But it's the wrong question, if not technically meaningless by Ayer's lights. And I don't mean we should be asking Why He's Employed Again, or how much longer the phony rancher routine can play, but rather how it is in the United States of America a man can be paid, handsomely, and command the public airwaves, yet have to ask what color a fucking NFL defensive back is.

1 comment:

Shell Goddamnit said...

Twain, that's what it reminds me of. Ahhhhh... doesn't happen often these days.

"...how it is in the United States of America a man can be paid, handsomely, and command the public airwaves, yet have to ask what color a fucking NFL defensive back is."

Yes indeed, the resemblance is not my imagination... yet there is the matter of the ending preposition. "ask the color of a fucking NFL defensive back" would work.

no, don't thank me