This morning on MSNBC, in discussing the impending execution of Stanley “Tookie” Williams, Don Imus said he was all in favor of it, for it “sends a message.”
He continued, explaining that message:
If we even think you did something, you’re gonna get it, so don’t screw around.
Where to start?
Imus’s statement is so incredibly ignorant and arrogant on so many levels that it’s almost mind-boggling. Yet he reflects the smug, self-satisfied “opinions” of millions who would rather react than think.
Let’s start with this: The “we” Imus uses is both elitist and (given that he is white and Williams is black–given, that is, the specifics of the situation) bordering on racism. As part of the well-connected, well-to-do white majority, Imus reflects the belief that Phil Ochs satirizes in his brillant song “Outside of a Small Circle of Friends”:
But they’ve got too much already and besides we’ve got the cops.
In his arrogance, Imus is absolutely unable to comprehend something else that Ochs writes about, this time in his “There But for Fortune:
Show me a prison, show me a jail
Show me a pris’ner whose face has grown pale
And I’ll show you a young man
With many reasons why
There but for fortune, go you or I
Even the fortune of Don Imus can change (just ask Robert Blake). He may be one of the “we” now, but he, too, can be falsely accused.
In his comments, Imus made it clear that he doesn’t care if a few innocent people are executed, as long as the “message” he voices gets out. However, he has no idea that the one executed could, one day, be he.
He also has no idea how close his views are to fascism.
In the movie The Counterfeit Traitor (1962), a group of factory workers in Nazi Germany goes on strike. A noose hanging from a portable crane is brought around. One of the strikers is selected at random and hanged. The rest slowly drift back to work. They got the message: “don’t screw around.”
In fact, Imus’s is a core fascist message: “if you so much as think of stepping out of bounds, we may kill you.”
Like Bill O’Reilly and the other “pundits” whose ratings allow them to do or say what they want, ignoring all evidence to the contrary, Imus is absolutely sure of himself and completely un-open to discussion. He “knows” the truth of what he says, even though there is absolutely no evidence supporting his view.
The pundits, unlike bloggers, who are answerable to their readers through comments, don’t have to justify themselves to anyone–as long as the numbers stay high. So we keep hearing such nonsense, over and over again.
Does execution stop murder? The evidence is that it does not. The murder rate in Texas, in fact, is slightly higher than the national average, for all the executions there these last years.
Execution does not send a successful message of “don’t murder, or we’ll murder you.” It never has. Yet many, like Imus, continue to believe they are sending a message by “getting tough.” But they don’t know what they are talking about, not at all.
And the pundits like Imus (like O’Reilly, like Coulter, like so many of the others) don’t even care.
As long as the numbers stay high.
[Crossposted on dKos]