By Phil Valentine
Talk Show Host
NASHVILLE – In response to Richard Neer’s column published below, I’m sure Mr. Neer of WFAN is a well-meaning gentleman who doesn’t want to offend anyone, but over on my side of the talk radio business – issues-driven talk – that attitude is lethal. If Limbaugh or Hannity or any of us cracked the mic worried about offending someone we’d never utter a word.
That’s exactly the goal of the politically correct and the thought police.
Understand, there are now professional victims out there waiting to be offended. There are even whole organizations poised to pounce at the mere utterance of anything that sounds offensive. And that’s the clear distinction here. Nobody would be defending ESPN if they called Jeremy Lin a chink but they didn’t. The headline had nothing to do with an ethnic slur.
THAT’S THE POINT!
We are now being told we can’t even talk about anything that sounds offensive. Take the Asian American Journalists Association. These people have lost their minds. They actually had the gall to issue a set of guidelines to follow when covering Jeremy Lin. WHO ASKED YA?
Here are some of the absurd areas where we ‘just can’t go,’ Richard, and it should scare you as much as it scares me. For example, saying things like ‘driving to the basket’ can be misconstrued as racist since that could be a reference to an “Asian who knows how to drive,” according to the AAJA. I have no idea what in the world that even means.
And don’t make any references to martial arts when talking about Lin. You should not refer to him as “Grasshopper” or any similar name, they scold us. I know. These folks are actually serious but it’s almost like Jay Leno wrote this stuff.
Look, I’m going to go ahead and say what needs to be said. Stereotypical humor is funny. You think I don’t get the Southern Baptist/dancing jokes? (We do actually dance, by the way. Not sure about the Church of Christ folks, though.) Stereotypical humor is what we all relate to most. Good grief, have you never watched Big Bang Theory? The stereotypical nerd jokes are endless.
What made Sanford and Son funny? Stereotypical humor. Same for All in the Family and, more up-to-date, The George Lopez Show. Heck, there’s even stereotypical gay humor in Modern Family. And one of those guys isn’t even gay!
Jeff Foxworthy is a stereotypical redneck. Chris Rock is stereotypical black. But now we’re told that all the stereotypes have to go away. No, wait a minute. We’re not being told that at all. We’re told that only white folks can’t use stereotypical humor. Specifically, white males.
What they want to do is, excuse the expression, white-wash the language. That’s where all of this political correctness runs headlong into the Constitution. Understand, we wouldn’t need the First Amendment if we all agreed. The First Amendment is designed to protect us when others find our speech offensive. Like right now.
But understand that those of us on the radio don’t have a Constitutional right to do and say anything we want. A union worker several years back called to tell me he’d been “locked out” of his job. I told him if he was locked out and he didn’t have the key apparently it wasn’t his job.
Same for all of us in talk radio. We occupy a place on the dial, a chair in a studio. That place is not owned by us but by our employers. I just hope that when decisions of judgment and language are made my employer will be consulting the Constitution and not the Asian American Journalists Association guidelines.
Phil Valentine is a Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host based at WWTN-FM, Nashville. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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