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    Published on: April 17, 2007

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    KC's View:

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Southern California’s three major grocery chains – Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons – have returned to the negotiating table and that both sides are “urging harmony.”

    The original three-year contract expired March 5, but has been extended several times as the two sides look for a way to avoid the strike/lockout that roiled the industry and marketplace just over three years ago. Negotiations broke down on April 4 after the three chains signed an agreement to share any financial pain imposed by a labor action, which was it self a reaction to UFCW members authorizing a strike at Albertsons, though they did not set a target date.

    Still, even as the two sides were trying to find a solution, the Times reports that “UFCW members were speaking in eight U.S. cities Monday to show support for the contract talks. The UFCW said workers were speaking outside of stores and handing out fliers at supermarkets in Oregon, Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago and Philadelphia.

    “The UFCW, which represents nearly 1 million industry workers, said more than 400,000 UFCW members were negotiating new contracts this year. A contract between 30,000 workers in Seattle and the three major grocers expires May 5.”

    The battleground is potentially a lot larger than Southern California, since Albertsons is owned by Supervalu, Ralphs is owned by Kroger, and Vons is owned by Safeway.
    KC's View:
    The clock is ticking. While we’d like to think that the two sides will be able to come to an agreement without coming to blows, we’re not sure that they’ll be able to find accord on tiered wage scales and health benefits without some sort of brief yet disruptive event. And with every passing day, we’d guess that the likelihood of something happening grows.

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    The Baltimore Sun reports that the Maryland Attorney General’s office has decided not to appeal a ruling by the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the Maryland law that would have required that employers with more than 10,000 employees had to pay at least eight percent of their payroll costs in health benefits or be fined by the state.

    Two federal courts have now ruled that that the state’s Fair Share Health Care Fund Act was in violation of federal law. The rulings – and now, the state’s acquiescence - are seen as an enormous victory for Wal-Mart.

    The Maryland law was pushed by organized labor and pro-labor activists who complained that by not providing adequate health care coverage, certain employers were forcing workers to go on public assistance, which was costing the taxpayers money. There are only eight companies in Maryland with more than 10,000 employees, and only one – Wal-Mart – reportedly fell beneath the eight percent threshold. Ahold-owned Giant Food, which has more than 10,000 employees in the state but pays more than the requisite amount in health care benefits, had supported the Fair Share Health Care Fund Act, saying that it created a level playing field.

    Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said that an appeal would have taken years and been extremely costly to taxpayers. And, he defended the fair Share legislation, saying that it had forced Wal-Mart to improve its benefits package for employees. “"Fair Share had a great impact in the state and on the nation," Gansler said. "Today, Wal-Mart offers health care to more of its part-time employees and has drastically reduced co-payments for prescription drugs."
    KC's View:
    While we were never convinced that Fair Share was a workable concept, mostly because a state-by-state approach just seemed overly and unfairly complicated, we remain unconvinced that the real problem – the high cost of health care and the lack of effective and efficient coverage for many employees – has been addressed in Maryland.

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    Upstate New York-based Wegmans was named the nation’s best supermarket by the first Food Network Awards, described as “the grocery chain that has changed the way we shop.”

    The other nominees were Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

    It is always nice to be recognized, but when it comes from folks who love food as much we do, it is extra special,” said Colleen Wegman, president of the family-owned company. “This award belongs to our people. By sharing their knowledge and providing incredible service, they have truly changed the way people shop.”

    An internal panel led by Food Network Kitchens selected the nominees for the awards; the same panel, which represents all departments at the network, chose the winners, in addition to five viewer’s choice categories that were determined by votes cast on the network’s website.
    KC's View:
    Well-deserved. Need we say more?

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    The New York Times reports on a new system that allows people to “buy products instantly using text messages, a process that eliminates the need to go to a store or even visit a Web site. For instance, a woman seeing an ad for a pocketbook in a magazine can order it on the spot simply by sending the text code found beside the item through her cellphone… At the center of the technology is ShopText, a small company in New York that takes the orders, charges the consumer’s credit card and ships out the merchandise. To use the system, a consumer must first place a phone call to ShopText to set up an account, specifying a shipping address and card account. After that, all purchases can be made by thumb… When ShopText receives text messages about donations or products, it charges the credit card it has on file for the buyer, then, if appropriate, sends the product from one of its warehouses around the country.”
    KC's View:
    This strikes us as a technology with enormous implications in terms of how to market to the younger generation of consumers, for whom text messaging is a natural and constant activity. Forrester Research says that while about a third of cellphone users use text messaging, more than three quarters of people between 18 and 24 use it…and that’s an enormous number of people.

    We can imagine retailers offering text codes for virtually every product listed online or in print advertising, so that people looking for the quick, convenient buy will have that option. Food retailers looking to be a viable option to fast food joints could use the system to make its foodservice products more easily ordered, with either a pick-up or a delivery option.

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    The New York Times has a story reporting that “just 1.3 percent of imported fish, vegetables, fruit and other foods are inspected -- yet those government inspections regularly reveal food unfit for human consumption.”

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects only those products deemed to be high risk, though that often isn’t enough – wheat gluten, for example, wasn’t thought to be an issue, but contaminated what gluten from China resulted in poisoned pet food and that has killed or sickened numerous animals.

    ''Never before in history have we had the sort of system that we have now, meaning a globalization of the food supply,'' Robert Brackett, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, tells the Times. ''I am not quite sure how we're going to do that yet,'' he said, ''except to know that that's the direction that we're going to be heading.''

    Experts say that the FDA doesn’t have the resources to inspect more food, but the story makes clear that this isn’t reassuring to the Americans who eat an average of 260 pounds of imported food each year – food that may increasingly be risky to their health.

    ''Inspections have a very important role but they're not the solution. They are the verification,'' FDA commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach tells the Times.
    KC's View:
    We have trouble understanding this. We don’t want to inspect more food. We don’t want country-of-origin labeling. And we expect the consumer to continue to have blind faith in the food supply, even as more and more instances of foodborne illness come to light.

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    • A new poll by Wal-Mart Watch, a union-sponsored group suggests that Wal-Mart is turning around public perceptions of the company, and that 71 percent of people had a ‘somewhat favorable’ view of Wal-Mart, up from 69 percent in a 2006 survey, but down from 76 percent in 2005. At the same time, 27 percent of those polled said they had a more negative opinion of Wal-Mart than they did a year ago.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    E. Neville Isdell, Coca-Cola's chairman/CEO, tells the Wall Street Journal for an article this morning that Coke Zero – promoted as more closely approximating the taste of Coke Classic than other diet drinks – is the company’s “most successful launch...of any brand in 20 years.”

    To be fair, Coke Zero is still a small brand with just a one percent market share, just a fraction of that enjoyed by Coke Classic and Diet Coke. But the numbers suggest that it is not cannibalizing existing sales, which likely means it is bringing new consumers to the table. This seems to be the result of highly effective marketing/advertising program built around the theme of whether Coke could sue itself for ripping off Coke’s distinctive taste.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    The Miami Herald reports that ConAgra plans to reintroduce its Peter Pan brand of peanut butter – pulled from the nation’s store shelves after a salmonella outbreak connected to the facility where it was manufactured – in July.

    The company won’t discuss the market plan that it will use to try and rekindle trust among US consumers, but experts tell the Herald that it will be critical for ConAgra to be honest and upfront about what happened and why.

    According to the Herald, “ConAgra officials said they believe moisture in the company's peanut butter plant likely helped salmonella bacteria to grow and later infect the finished product. The moisture came from a roof leak and a faulty sprinkler head that triggered the plant's fire sprinklers twice, and the salmonella likely came from the raw peanuts. But they can't be entirely sure what caused the problems.

    So ConAgra plans to do more than just eliminate the source of the moisture. The company said it would renovate the Georgia plant to make sure there is greater separation between raw peanuts and the finished product.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    • The New York Times this morning reports that Home Depot is introducing “a label for nearly 3,000 products, like fluorescent light bulbs that conserve electricity and natural insect killers, that promote energy conservation, sustainable forestry and clean water.

    “The initiative — which is expected to include 6,000 products by 2009, representing 12 percent of the chain’s sales — would become the largest green labeling program in American retailing and could persuade competitors to speed up their own plans.”

    The announcement comes just after Texas-based HEB made its own move in the environmental arena, giving away 3,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs at five stores in Central Texas.

    • The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the California state legislature is considering a bill that would ban shopping bags lined with aluminum foil and duct tape – a formulation that apparently allows shoplifters to spirit products out of stores without security alarms going off.

    • The New York Times reports this morning that Tyson Foods and ConocoPhillips are “forming an alliance to produce and market diesel fuel made from pork, poultry and beef fat. It was another sign that farmers and agribusinesses, which are now producing corn for ethanol, will be playing an increasingly large part in the country’s energy future. The new brew should be available at the neighborhood filling station by the end of the year.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    • As expected, just months before opening its first US stores, UK-based Tesco PLC announced that last year’s annual profits increased 20.5 percent to the equivalent of $3.76 billion (US), on sales that were up 8.1 percent to $84.7 billion.

    Tesco operates about 1,500 stores in the United Kingdom and 1,300 in other countries. It is slated to open small-format stores in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada later this year. In the UK, its home market, Tesco has a 30 percent market share…and has to weather constant criticism about whether it has too much power and dominance.

    In a statement, CEO Sir Terry Leahy said that the results "demonstrate that we have again made good progress across the group, whilst making significant startup investment in new businesses and coping well with challenging conditions in some markets…We are pleased with the early performance from Tesco Direct (the company’s online business) and our plans to open stores in the U.S. later this year are on track.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    Responding to yesterday’s piece commenting on the Wall Street Journal about the draconian approach to childhood obesity being taken in Gillette, Wyoming, one MNB user wrote:

    I think this is a crock… body mass index on a report card? “Son, your grounded cause your index went up by a pt… who cares about the 4.0 GPA you have – your smart but dang your fat – go to your room!! And don’t walk there.. RUN!!!!!!!”

    When did schools suddenly become personal trainers???


    Another MNB user wrote:

    I went to public school from 1965 to 1977. Soda pop was banned at school until 1973. So the concept of healthy eating at school is not new. No one measured our body mass index. My 100-year-old 5th grade teacher made us do chin-ups and push-ups everyday. Some kids could do 40 or 50 and some none at all. I could do maybe 5 or so.

    I know for some kids it was hurtful and embarrassing not to be able to do any. Doing only 5 isn't much better. Self-esteem is a state of mind that needs to be taught to kids so they don't get discouraged by various measurements of success. I wonder if jockey Pat Day was bummed out about being only 4-10 or slam-dunk champ Spud Webb being only 5-7? I wonder if the Sam Walton had a poor self-esteem about driving a 20-year-old pickup truck? Or the straight A student who isn't popular at school. Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal with half a foot and was overweight. I've seen pro baseball pitchers with one arm and Babe Ruth certainly was no prime physical specimen. Good nutrition is common sense but we must also teach our kids to put things in proper perspective.


    MNB user Phillip Black wrote:

    While I think it’s great that the school district is taking an active interest in providing healthy alternatives, when are the parents going to start doing their job and teaching/training their OWN children how to eat responsibly? These are the same parents who take them through McDonalds for a happy meal instead of a home cooked meal at the dinner table.

    There are now more children in my neighborhood riding motorized scooters than bicycles, and we’re worried about a second helping at school?





    On the subject of Menards, the home improvement chain, offering an expanded selection of groceries in an effort to be a one-stop shopping alternative, one MNB user wrote:

    Living in Chicago, I am a big fan of Menards and they’ve been selling food for some time, even in their standard size stores. Virtually all of it is impulse (candy, snacks, meat snacks, seasonal candy, etc., and their pricing is typically very attractive. And, all of it is right at the front of the store near the checkouts. Clearly Menards wants to “sell one more thing” before the consumer leaves the store, something many of our Grocery and Drug retailers could learn from.

    MNB user Ben Allen wrote:

    Seems to me that Menards is not focusing. This news tidbit has interesting timing in light of an article I just read in Ad Age.

    The Ad Age column critiques Bob Nardelli, former head of The Home Depot. The author emphasizes the need for retailers to remain focused, something you have urged in your columns before.





    Finally, we got a number of emails responding to our “OffBeat” commentary Friday about Don Imus.

    MNB user Tim Grimes wrote:

    Never heard an Imus show, not a big listener of radio. And for the record, my Mrs. is herself Jewish here in CT Wasp country. No racism in this house.

    But I am really struck by the juxtaposition of Don Imus getting fired yesterday for his abhorrent comment yet I remember clearly that the Oscar winning song 2 years ago was "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp". Don't know if you've ever heard those lyrics but it rates right next to "nappy headed ho's". Didn't see any advertisers pull out of supporting future Oscar telecasts or awards shows. Didn't see the outrage. Guess we should recognize that these 'thoughts/lyrics" surely reflects a world view that a certain segment of our population has embraced. Is it only an outrage when an old white American utters the same kinds of garbage? Where is the outrage over the "rap-world" in general? Where are the rallies? Far as I know these people keep winning Grammy's and Oscars without the slightest advertiser discomfort......Snoop Dog, IceT and the rest are constantly on TV selling and promoting and rap would have you believe that 1) getting arrested is good 2) selling drugs is better 3) women are all 'nappy headed ho's'’…

    Where are we all headed? When I was 20 I used to believe that our children would grow up in a different world and that we'd see the death of racism in our lifetime. I guess I'm just a naive believer…but I think this moment when we could really push the national dialogue will pass and we will never learn.


    MNB user Tom Devlin chimed in:

    I would like to add my two cents worth on the Imus situation, even if it does not make the list for your viewers. It is obvious what Imus said was beyond Idiotic and hurtful, especially when talking about college educated kids who achieved far more then expected on the basketball court. Whether he should be suspended or fired, I will leave that for the executives who are counting their losses knowing how much money Imus has made them over the years.

    My question is who will be the next one who says something that may hurt a group of people whether it be race, religion or any other reason? While I am not a regular Imus listener, I have heard him many times make statements that were crude to people from the south, democrats and name a few others. The same goes for Rush, Howard Stern and many Radio DJ’s who make a living being controversial. That is how they and the ownership make money. Last week Rosie O’Donnell stated that we should not fear terrorist because they are moms and dads just like us…… That is a statement that is hurtful to all Americans who have pride in our country. Maybe Rosie should be fired or sit down with the families who have lost loved ones in the World Trade Center, Pentagon, or who were on planes September 11th…

    What Imus said was pathetic and while he was trying to fill fours hours of a daily show and be funny, He was not… He is off the air and we can all live our lives again until the next great media debate. It will come soon now that Imus is gone, the father of Anna Nicolle’s Baby has been named and American Idol marketing finally ends. In the end, your statement about talking to people who doesn’t look like you is right on. That is the only way we can get better.


    Another MNB user wrote:

    There is no doubt that Imus was out of line and wrong with his insensitive comments, but it also bothers me that there is a double standard. The Al Sharpton types can slander and defame lacrosse players and others without retribution, while an Imus pays for his irresponsibility. Where is the equity? Where is the demand for that apology? And why do the same folks who censored Imus, keep airing Sharpton?

    MNB user Ron Dunbar wrote:

    In reading your response "in detail" to the Imus situation. Your comments were very well put & thought out... especially your last few points.. Thanks for making me think & dig deeper on my own personal views, be more sensitive to others, & more importantly think about what I can do to help.. Good stuff.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    While what Imus said was clearly wrong, I wonder if it's any more inflammatory than what some of his more popular critics have said in the past without losing their source of livelihood. I suppose if glass houses don't work, they can always fall back on plastic ones.

    And I wonder if it was any more inappropriate than other things he has said over the years that haven't received such a spotlight. I wouldn't want to place odds on that.

    In fact, I wonder if the Rutgers women or 99% of anyone in the country would have even heard, and therefore been so morally outraged and emotionally scarred, about the comments if the media wasn't so driven on scandal and sensationalism...even when feeding on one of their own. If Imus was the spark in this situation, they were certainly the gasoline laden tinder.

    I don't like what Imus said and I'm honestly glad I didn't have to decide what a fair punishment would be. But I am disappointed in those who have been hypocritical in their attacks. I am disgusted with those who have chosen to exploit this situation for their own personal agendas, especially need of spotlight. Mostly, I am saddened that we continue to allow race to be such an explosive and divisive element in our society.


    MNB user Jeff Davis wrote:

    Imus was held accountable for his actions (finally). That's as it should be. Unfortunately, that isn't always how it is. For people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, it is ALWAYS about race. How can they protest Imus yet give rappers a pass for the bile that is in so many of their lyrics?

    And another MNB user wrote:

    It’s interesting that blatantly racist speech is horrifying but blatantly sexist speech is apparently okay with CBS and the public. Imus used the word “ho” over and over with no public outcry… but toss in “nappy-headed” and it’s all over. Why aren’t both forms of hate speech equally appalling?

    Great commentary on the subject by the way. I like when you muse even without having all the answers.


    Unfortunately, we muse without the answers a lot more than we muse with all the answers. C’est la vie.

    A couple of final thoughts on the Imus controversy, and then we’ll move on.

    The point about rap music has bee well and often made.

    But we would also refer you to “South Park.” A friend recently recommended an episode of the animated series to us, saying it was a really funny takeoff on “24.” We watched it, and it was one of the most vile things we’ve ever seen on TV. Just awful.

    “South Park” is broadcast on Comedy Central. Which is owned by Viacom, which until recently owned CBS. Which is one of the two networks that fired Imus.

    The hypocrisy was rampant. On all sides. The decision to fire Imus was about money. (Though it may be an even more expensive decision, since Imus recently signed a five year, $50 million contract…)

    Three things concern us about the firing.

    One is that we may be looking at a new kind of McCarthyism, with certain people or groups deciding what is acceptable and what is not. That worries us. There’s an awful lot of stuff out there that we either don’t know anything about or hate…but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist.

    The other was the way people who had appeared on Imus’s show and who might have helped him weather the controversy faded into the background last week. Let’s not debate whether he should have been fired, but whether, at some point, someone could have stood up to provide some context for the man. (Not the statements, for which no context or explanation could suffice.)

    E.M. Forster once wrote something along the lines of, “given a choice between betraying my country and betraying my friends, I hope I would have the courage to betray my country.” Not a sentiment, I gather, with which many of Imus’s friends would agree.

    Finally, it would be our observation that by the end of the last week, the country was more polarized than it was before the Imus controversy erupted. And that’s not healthy.

    KC's View:

    Published on: April 17, 2007

    Responding to yesterday’s piece commenting on the Wall Street Journal about the draconian approach to childhood obesity being taken in Gillette, Wyoming, one MNB user wrote:

    I think this is a crock… body mass index on a report card? “Son, your grounded cause your index went up by a pt… who cares about the 4.0 GPA you have – your smart but dang your fat – go to your room!! And don’t walk there.. RUN!!!!!!!”

    When did schools suddenly become personal trainers???


    Another MNB user wrote:

    I went to public school from 1965 to 1977. Soda pop was banned at school until 1973. So the concept of healthy eating at school is not new. No one measured our body mass index. My 100-year-old 5th grade teacher made us do chin-ups and push-ups everyday. Some kids could do 40 or 50 and some none at all. I could do maybe 5 or so.

    I know for some kids it was hurtful and embarrassing not to be able to do any. Doing only 5 isn't much better. Self-esteem is a state of mind that needs to be taught to kids so they don't get discouraged by various measurements of success. I wonder if jockey Pat Day was bummed out about being only 4-10 or slam-dunk champ Spud Webb being only 5-7? I wonder if the Sam Walton had a poor self-esteem about driving a 20-year-old pickup truck? Or the straight A student who isn't popular at school. Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal with half a foot and was overweight. I've seen pro baseball pitchers with one arm and Babe Ruth certainly was no prime physical specimen. Good nutrition is common sense but we must also teach our kids to put things in proper perspective.


    MNB user Phillip Black wrote:

    While I think it’s great that the school district is taking an active interest in providing healthy alternatives, when are the parents going to start doing their job and teaching/training their OWN children how to eat responsibly? These are the same parents who take them through McDonalds for a happy meal instead of a home cooked meal at the dinner table.

    There are now more children in my neighborhood riding motorized scooters than bicycles, and we’re worried about a second helping at school?





    On the subject of Menards, the home improvement chain, offering an expanded selection of groceries in an effort to be a one-stop shopping alternative, one MNB user wrote:

    Living in Chicago, I am a big fan of Menards and they’ve been selling food for some time, even in their standard size stores. Virtually all of it is impulse (candy, snacks, meat snacks, seasonal candy, etc., and their pricing is typically very attractive. And, all of it is right at the front of the store near the checkouts. Clearly Menards wants to “sell one more thing” before the consumer leaves the store, something many of our Grocery and Drug retailers could learn from.

    MNB user Ben Allen wrote:

    Seems to me that Menards is not focusing. This news tidbit has interesting timing in light of an article I just read in Ad Age.

    The Ad Age column critiques Bob Nardelli, former head of The Home Depot. The author emphasizes the need for retailers to remain focused, something you have urged in your columns before.





    Finally, we got a number of emails responding to our “OffBeat” commentary Friday about Don Imus.

    MNB user Tim Grimes wrote:

    Never heard an Imus show, not a big listener of radio. And for the record, my Mrs. is herself Jewish here in CT Wasp country. No racism in this house.

    But I am really struck by the juxtaposition of Don Imus getting fired yesterday for his abhorrent comment yet I remember clearly that the Oscar winning song 2 years ago was "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp". Don't know if you've ever heard those lyrics but it rates right next to "nappy headed ho's". Didn't see any advertisers pull out of supporting future Oscar telecasts or awards shows. Didn't see the outrage. Guess we should recognize that these 'thoughts/lyrics" surely reflects a world view that a certain segment of our population has embraced. Is it only an outrage when an old white American utters the same kinds of garbage? Where is the outrage over the "rap-world" in general? Where are the rallies? Far as I know these people keep winning Grammy's and Oscars without the slightest advertiser discomfort......Snoop Dog, IceT and the rest are constantly on TV selling and promoting and rap would have you believe that 1) getting arrested is good 2) selling drugs is better 3) women are all 'nappy headed ho's'’…

    Where are we all headed? When I was 20 I used to believe that our children would grow up in a different world and that we'd see the death of racism in our lifetime. I guess I'm just a naive believer…but I think this moment when we could really push the national dialogue will pass and we will never learn.


    MNB user Tom Devlin chimed in:

    I would like to add my two cents worth on the Imus situation, even if it does not make the list for your viewers. It is obvious what Imus said was beyond Idiotic and hurtful, especially when talking about college educated kids who achieved far more then expected on the basketball court. Whether he should be suspended or fired, I will leave that for the executives who are counting their losses knowing how much money Imus has made them over the years.

    My question is who will be the next one who says something that may hurt a group of people whether it be race, religion or any other reason? While I am not a regular Imus listener, I have heard him many times make statements that were crude to people from the south, democrats and name a few others. The same goes for Rush, Howard Stern and many Radio DJ’s who make a living being controversial. That is how they and the ownership make money. Last week Rosie O’Donnell stated that we should not fear terrorist because they are moms and dads just like us…… That is a statement that is hurtful to all Americans who have pride in our country. Maybe Rosie should be fired or sit down with the families who have lost loved ones in the World Trade Center, Pentagon, or who were on planes September 11th…

    What Imus said was pathetic and while he was trying to fill fours hours of a daily show and be funny, He was not… He is off the air and we can all live our lives again until the next great media debate. It will come soon now that Imus is gone, the father of Anna Nicolle’s Baby has been named and American Idol marketing finally ends. In the end, your statement about talking to people who doesn’t look like you is right on. That is the only way we can get better.


    Another MNB user wrote:

    There is no doubt that Imus was out of line and wrong with his insensitive comments, but it also bothers me that there is a double standard. The Al Sharpton types can slander and defame lacrosse players and others without retribution, while an Imus pays for his irresponsibility. Where is the equity? Where is the demand for that apology? And why do the same folks who censored Imus, keep airing Sharpton?

    MNB user Ron Dunbar wrote:

    In reading your response "in detail" to the Imus situation. Your comments were very well put & thought out... especially your last few points.. Thanks for making me think & dig deeper on my own personal views, be more sensitive to others, & more importantly think about what I can do to help.. Good stuff.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    While what Imus said was clearly wrong, I wonder if it's any more inflammatory than what some of his more popular critics have said in the past without losing their source of livelihood. I suppose if glass houses don't work, they can always fall back on plastic ones.

    And I wonder if it was any more inappropriate than other things he has said over the years that haven't received such a spotlight. I wouldn't want to place odds on that.

    In fact, I wonder if the Rutgers women or 99% of anyone in the country would have even heard, and therefore been so morally outraged and emotionally scarred, about the comments if the media wasn't so driven on scandal and sensationalism...even when feeding on one of their own. If Imus was the spark in this situation, they were certainly the gasoline laden tinder.

    I don't like what Imus said and I'm honestly glad I didn't have to decide what a fair punishment would be. But I am disappointed in those who have been hypocritical in their attacks. I am disgusted with those who have chosen to exploit this situation for their own personal agendas, especially need of spotlight. Mostly, I am saddened that we continue to allow race to be such an explosive and divisive element in our society.


    MNB user Jeff Davis wrote:

    Imus was held accountable for his actions (finally). That's as it should be. Unfortunately, that isn't always how it is. For people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, it is ALWAYS about race. How can they protest Imus yet give rappers a pass for the bile that is in so many of their lyrics?

    And another MNB user wrote:

    It’s interesting that blatantly racist speech is horrifying but blatantly sexist speech is apparently okay with CBS and the public. Imus used the word “ho” over and over with no public outcry… but toss in “nappy-headed” and it’s all over. Why aren’t both forms of hate speech equally appalling?

    Great commentary on the subject by the way. I like when you muse even without having all the answers.


    Unfortunately, we muse without the answers a lot more than we muse with all the answers. C’est la vie.

    A couple of final thoughts on the Imus controversy, and then we’ll move on.

    The point about rap music has bee well and often made.

    But we would also refer you to “South Park.” A friend recently recommended an episode of the animated series to us, saying it was a really funny takeoff on “24.” We watched it, and it was one of the most vile things we’ve ever seen on TV. Just awful.

    “South Park” is broadcast on Comedy Central. Which is owned by Viacom, which until recently owned CBS. Which is one of the two networks that fired Imus.

    The hypocrisy was rampant. On all sides. The decision to fire Imus was about money. (Though it may be an even more expensive decision, since Imus recently signed a five year, $50 million contract…)

    Three things concern us about the firing.

    One is that we may be looking at a new kind of McCarthyism, with certain people or groups deciding what is acceptable and what is not. That worries us. There’s an awful lot of stuff out there that we either don’t know anything about or hate…but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist.

    The other was the way people who had appeared on Imus’s show and who might have helped him weather the controversy faded into the background last week. Let’s not debate whether he should have been fired, but whether, at some point, someone could have stood up to provide some context for the man. (Not the statements, for which no context or explanation could suffice.)

    E.M. Forster once wrote something along the lines of, “given a choice between betraying my country and betraying my friends, I hope I would have the courage to betray my country.” Not a sentiment, I gather, with which many of Imus’s friends would agree.

    Finally, it would be our observation that by the end of the last week, the country was more polarized than it was before the Imus controversy erupted. And that’s not healthy.

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