Words Are Just As Good As Actions

For some reason, Don Imus lost his job last week for a comment that, by the standards of a guy who once called Howard Kurtz a “boner-nosed… beanie-wearing Jewboy,” was extremely tame and entirely unremarkable. One would think that the massacre at Virginia Tech this week would put the Imus kerfuffle into perspective, and make the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth that precipitated Imus’s fall seem just a tad over-the-top. To Barack Obama, though, mass murder and shock jockery are of a piece. This is what he said on the day of the shooting:

Obviously, what happened today was an act of a madman at some level, and there are going to be a whole series of explanations, or attempts to explain, what happened… But I hope that it causes us to reflect a little bit more broadly on the degree to which we do accept violence, in various forms, all the time in our society. We glorify it. We encourage it. We ignore it. And it’s heartbreaking; it has to stop…

There’s also another kind of violence though that we’re going to have to think about. It’s not necessarily the physical violence, but the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways. Last week the big news obviously had to do with Imus, and the verbal violence that was directed at young women who were role models for all of us, role models for my daughters… that’s a form of violence. It may be quiet, it may not surface to the same level as the tragedy that we read about today and we mourn, but it’s violence just the same.

Yes, indeed: As we mourn the victims, at least we can take comfort in the fact that they never suffered the horrible torture of being called nappy-headed hos on the radio.

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On Wednesday, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, in which the federal Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 was upheld on narrow grounds. As Clarence Thomas noted in his concurrence, the court did not consider the question of whether the Act is constitutional on commerce clause ground (it isn’t, in my opinion). Many liberals took the occasion to lament how George W. Bush’s nominees have changed the makeup of the court. “A lot of us wish that Alito weren’t there and O’Connor were there,” said Senate Majority Harry Reid. Funny thing, though: Reid voted for the PBAA in 2003. When he ran for Democratic leader in 2004, Reid told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that “I don’t have to give up any of my principles to be someone that can lead the Democrats through the legislative morass that we have.” So much for that theory.

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The Prom is tomorrow! Every spring, the White House Correspondents’ Association throws the biggest black-tie shindig in Washington, featuring a comic performance (this year it’s Rich Little, who is apparently still alive) and a jokey speech by the president. News organizations invite celebrities to fill out their tables at the Correspondents’ Dinner and give the event a veneer of glamour; this year’s guests include Teri Hatcher, Larry David, Dennis Hopper, Morgan Fairchild, Mary Tyler Moore, Jane Fonda, and Wyclef Jean. It’s hard to get into the dinner and harder to get into the exclusive after-parties that Bloomberg and Vanity Fair are throwing. But the pre-dinner receptions that various news organizations sponsor are easy-access: If you’re a man, you just need a tuxedo; if you’re a woman, anything that can be remotely construed as eveningwear will do (that’s the benefit of living in a city with virtually no fashion sense). Of course, only someone with no manners or dignity would crash a party just because it has open bars and Hollywood B-listers. See you there!

John Tabin is a Maryland-based writer.

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