Peter Boyles Defends Don Imus -- Sort of

The latest Don Imus controversy, spurred by the rhetorical question "What color is he?," which Imus asked during a show following mention of trouble-prone footballer Adam "Pacman" Jones, was topic one on Peter Boyles' KHOW morning show on June 24. "It's one of those mornings where everyone's going to be talking about talk radio and who said what," he predicted shortly after 5 a.m. And while Boyles resisted the temptation to opine about whether Imus had strayed out of bounds again, he used the subject as an opportunity to slap the media for hypocrisy and to rail against racially oriented attacks of the sort he discussed in a June 12 Message column.

In an exchange with a caller who thought Imus deserved criticism aplenty for his Pacman remark, Boyles took the topic in another direction by announcing that the previous week Imus had referred to Arabs as "camel humpers" -- a reference that doesn't seem to have surfaced in the press or blogosphere at this writing. (Neither a Google nor a Google News search turned up items or posts about it.) Why had the media gone after Imus for his "What color is he?" query -- which Imus intended as sympathetic toward Jones, he told the New York Times -- and not for what some parties might see as Arab racism, Boyles wanted to know.

Then, while chatting with a second listener, he called claims of racism the great conversation stopper of our time before suggesting that such assertions had practically stopped during the past twelve or thirteen months in relation to illegal immigration because people like him simply ignored them until the public at large moved in in a more conservative direction on the issue. He made the same point in the aforementioned Message.

Of course, others won't let Imus off so easily. Expect a great ballyhoo over his "color" comment, even though Imus's show isn't nearly as widely heard as it was prior to the nappy-headed ho slur he leveled at the Rutgers womens basketball team, which prompted his fall from syndicated-radio grace. But anticipate, also, assaults on political correctness of the sort Boyles tried out the morning the latest Imus story broke nationally. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts