Brent Bozell's culture column this week deals with Opie & Anthony's sick XM shock-jock routine about raping Condoleezza Rice (and raping Laura Bush "to death.") You may not be shocked, but Al Sharpton made no attempt to express his outrage at the XM sickos in defense of this black woman, despite how this routine is so much worse than the Don Imus "ho" comment (video is here):
Rev. Al Sharpton showed up to debate May 15 on the CNN Headline News program “Showbiz Tonight.” But he didn’t say a single word against Opie and Anthony or one word in defense of Condi Rice. He insisted that the Imus gaffe was much more offensive! “I think that these cases are different than Imus. Imus was a repeat offender that stood out, in a different situation...Imus’s situation cannot be compared to other arguments” about free speech, he said.
But even worse than that was his opponent, Debbie Wolf of “People Against Censorship,” who bizarrely lectured Sharpton that he needed to “exercise some social responsibility” and stop messing with free speech. She insisted that people like Condi Rice and Laura Bush “need to get a thicker skin.” The First Lady and Secretary of State should giggle along at a skit about them being raped and killed?
In the CNN-HN interview, "Showbiz" host A.J. Hammer sided with the "anti-censorship" crowd, pressing only Sharpton, and throwing softballs at Debbie Wolf:
HAMMER: And Al, let me start with you. Because in case of "Opie & Anthony", we certainly can all agree that what happened on their show, that we just showed, was reprehensible. It was offensive. It was disgusting. And as we reported XM radio has now suspended those guys for 30 days. What do you think, Al, is that enough in their case, or should they be fired as well, like Don Imus.
REV. AL SHARPTON, RADIO HOST, ACTIVIST: Well, I think that -- see a lot of this, you have to remember is about -- all of it, really, is about advertising dollars. I think advertisers have the right to say that they do not want to put their money behind large segments of their consumer based being offended, particularly when people say to them, they are. And in the case of the show that you just mentioned on XM, with them trying to get a merger, they have to go through Washington to get that. I think that these cases are different than Imus. Imus was a repeat offender that stood out, in a different situation.
HAMMER: Well, I understand, Al. You are talking here about corporate responsibility and letting the marketplace sort of dictate what happens to these people, but did you lead a charge for Imus to be fired. So --
SHARPTON: I led a charge for Imus to be fired, because Imus had made a commitment several times that he would stop these racist jokes, and he didn`t. And eventually his advertisers and bosses agreed with that. If he did not, himself, feel they were over the line, he wouldn`t have made those apologizes. Imus` situation cannot be compared to others` arguments that Debbie may want to make about free speech. Here`s a guy that admitted himself, and committed that he would stop himself to stop and kept doing it.
HAMMER: Debbie, I do feel like we`re on this slippery slope. I mean, you did say yourself, in our story, that people do need to develop a thicker skin?
WOLF: We are not on a slippery slope, we`re on a mountain and we`re going down at full speed here. I think Reverend Al is missing the point that your chilling speech here, when you fire someone from a brief remark that was said, very quickly, and in this case not even by the jocks but by somebody who just happened to be visiting the studio, who they had no control over. You`re saying people can`t speak freely anymore. They have to watch everything they say for fear that they are going to be fired based on a 30-second sound byte.
SHARPTON: Now, what I`m saying is that if people are going to say things that offend people based on who they are, then people have the right to say, if you`re going to make money off of who I am and not respect who I am, I`m going to withdraw my money. That`s what we said to the people at Imus. You have the right to say whatever you want, and have the right to expect me to pay for it. Then what happens to my right?
I think that is clearly where we have to draw the line here. When you want free speech, we have the right to speak back and say, fine, that`s what you`re going to do. You won`t do it with my dollar. And advertisers have the right to say I`m not going to support that....
WOLF: I`m just asking to you exercise some social responsibility. For 200 years some of the smartest men in the world have made the decision that free speech is a good thing. At least and our government isn`t allowed to interfere with that free speech. And that`s even when that speech may be offensive, and even when it may be harmful to some people`s feelings or to some people`s beliefs.
But those people have decided that that speech should be protected anyway. You seem to think you know better than those people.
Hammer, who in my experience is quite the liberal hack, decided to wrap up the segment by pressing Sharpton to condemn Rush Limbaugh, arguing that his Obama-Sharpton satires are offensive, and complaining that the outrage over Limbaugh is much less than over Opie & Anthony's rape jokes:
HAMMER: But, Al, one of the things that keeps coming up is where does that line get drawn? At which point? You know, talk about repeat offenders, calling Imus a repeat offender. You look at a guy like Rush Limbaugh. OK? He has certainly said things and then later apologized for them.
He talks about Barack Obama on his show all of the time. He has referred to that man as a Half-rican. He has played a song called "Barack the Magic Negro." On surface, I find that offensive. A lot of people find that offensive, but the outrage over that pales in comparison. Where do you draw the line and decide who you go after?
SHARPTON: Because, Mr. Lumbard (sic) done years against me, now Obama, others. He has the right to do that with individuals. That is not - - what we are talking about, when you castigate a race or gender. And he`s very, very careful that he will hit individuals, I think he wanted us to come after that. I talked to Senator Obama about it. He wanted to come after it, because he wanted to get --
HAMMER: Hold on a second, Al. I`ve got to stop you there simply because I`m out of time. We will continue this discussion, though. Reverend Al Sharpton and president of People Against Censorship Debbie Wolf. Thank you both for joining us.