DON IMUS. Burlington High School. King Tut.
The "Jeopardy!" answer: What are three recent examples of emotion getting in the way of logic?
First, the I-Man. By now, you know he said of the women's basketball team at Rutgers, "That's some nappy-headed ho's there, I'm going to tell you that."
A boneheaded comment to be sure. He has apologized and sounded genuine, which is not enough for some. Does he get a slap on the wrist or a beheading?
There's no formula to identify speech that's over the line. But it's like Justice Potter Stewart's comment about pornography, "I know it when I see it."
In matters of race, I see the extremes as Michael Richards and Joe Biden. Richards, the Seinfeld star, responded to hecklers with "He's a n-----! He's a n-----! He's a n-----!" That was clearly speech deserving condemnation.
Then there was Joe Biden. He said Barack Obama, as a presidential candidate, was the "first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."
That was clearly a compliment, unworthy of the apology Biden then had to deliver.
I see Imus as culpable, but closer to Biden than to Richards. He said something stupid intended for a laugh, with no apparent malice, that didn't seek to advance debate on a matter of public concern. (Incredible is that he then groveled to the Rev. Al. Al Sharpton as the arbiter of racial speech? Remember what he said about the sexual habits of a white prosecutor in the Tawana Brawley case, who then went on to win a defamation suit?)
Imus deserves punishment, but shouldn't pay with his job. The public flogging should suffice. If Chris Rock said it, he'd have gotten a laugh and no protest from Jesse Jackson. That's the PC double standard. He said he was sorry. Time to move on.
Then there's the Burlington Township (N.J.) High School. On March 22, it was the venue for a mock hostage drama in which police portrayed armed men who entered the school, shot several students, took hostages and barricaded themselves in the media center.
I see the need for such a dry run. What I don't get is the storyline they created for it. The fake gunmen were described as a "right-wing fundamentalist group" called the New Crusaders who don't believe in separation of church and state. They were upset because the daughter of one of them was punished for praying before class. According to the scenario used by police, they also had a "strong commitment to their right to bear arms."
Since when do fundamentalist Christians pose such a threat to schools? The country is at war with radical Islam - but, of course, that emperor has no clothes, so we don't have hypotheticals with our real nemesis. Again, the touchy-feely gets in the way of logic.
Now, one more.
Just before Easter, I took my sons to see the King Tut exhibit at the Franklin Institute. It's terrific. Check it out.
One of my sons asked, "Where was Jesus when Tut was alive?"
Great question. I didn't know who came first. And the exhibit displays were of little value. They didn't speak in terms of BC or AD. Instead, they referred to dates that were "BCE."
For example, as you enter the first room of the exhibit, there's a huge plaque with words that appear to be carved in stone that reads, "Egypt Before Tutankhamen," and it says:
"The unified kingdom of ancient Egypt began before 3000 BCE, and rapidly became a formidable power in the ancient Near East. Thirty-one divisions called dynasties, grouping rulers usually of the same family, comprise its long history.
"By the time Tutankhamen ascended the throne in 1332 BCE, the Giza pyramids of the 4th Dynasty were already more than a thousand years old. The young pharaoh, the last of his line in the 18th Dynasty (1539 to 1292 BCE) was a descendant of . . ."
"Dad, what's BCE?" my son asked. I knew it was before something, but I had to wait to do a Google search at home before I could explain it meant Before Common Era, PC-speak that oh-so-carefully avoids mentioning Jesus, or "Christ," the whole basis for the actual numbering of the years, lest we hurt someone's feelings.
Frankly, the best solution would be to say BJ - Before Jesus - because even nonbelievers who don't believe in Jesus as the messiah (Christ) would be helped by such a familiar reference. Of course, that acronym would cause a whole new set of troubles . . . *