When I was in 6th grade and the King Tut exhibit came to the Met my class was lucky enough to get tickets. On the day of the big trip we planned on taking the crosstown bus, which I had been on plenty of times before, mostly with grandma, to the museum. That morning before my class set off for the museum my teacher had a talk with us about bus etiquette. She explained to us that since we were getting on the bus at the first stop we would most likely all get seats. The she told us that if an old person got on the bus down the line we had to get up and offer that old person our seats. Then she said "After all, if your grandmother got onto a crowded bus you would want someone to offer her a seat." And that was it for me. That was all I needed to hear. I could run the NYC marathon, get on a bus to come home and spring up to stand in the presence of a senior citizen.
When I was in college I took a class we called "Responsibility". Many students took the class because they thought it was an easy A, but I took the class because I thought it was interesting. We read all sorts of books, from Charlotte's Web to Kurt Vonnegut. We discussed in depth the issues each book raised regarding responsibility. Charlotte did help Wilbur, but was he her responsibility? Or did he become her responsibility once she helped him the first time? Or was he never really her responsibility? I left responsibility feeling responsible for even more than I had come into the class feeling responsible for. Since for as long as I can remember I should have been introducing myself "Hi, I'm clickmom, and I am so sorry, it is all my fault." me taking on even more responsibility was big.
When Don Imus made that remark the other day, I wondered where the bottom line was. I mean really here, the guy has been on the air for decades, it isn't the first time he said something questionable, who needs to do something? Who is responsible for this situation? Is it the sponsors? The radio stations? The television broadcast? I really think that the bottom line is that WE need to do something. We the citizens of the earth need to STOP listening to people who say questionable, hurtful, derogatory, racist, sexist things. If Imus never had an audience, he would have never had a show, or sponsors, or a tv broadcast, or the time of the influential politicians who would appear on his shows. And maybe he would have wandered off into the sunset and become a book keeper or a librarian or anyone who doesn't get to broadcast his sometimes less than stellar ideas all over the 50 states. I think we need to start teaching our kids right now, at this very moment that they have to be more responsible. They have to give up their seat to old people on the bus, they have to take care of their neighbors, they have to set an example for anyone in ear shot, and also they have to ignore all the hateful people in the world. You can't be an audience to hate without promoting hate. Even if you are not agreeing with the hate, you are legitimizing it as entertainment when you are tuning in and that isn't alright for us as a society. It isn't healthy. It isn't healthy for the listener or for the victims. It's feeding the fire, fanning the flames. Listening to the hate allows it to grow, pushing the envelope, crossing boundaries, until it goes too far like it did the other day for Imus. If we turn a deaf ear to hate talk will it go away? I don't know for sure, but I am willing to bet that if people had just turned off their radios long before the remark, there would have been no forum for Imus to make that hurtful statement from. We should all give the people spouting hate an "I'm bored. Are you done yet?" look then turn on our heels and leave.