Note: This column was posted originally at Crime & Federalism.

Forget all that lawyer talk about what the First Amendment really means.

Free speech means you can be an asshole, bigot or coward. Look around. Is there any shortage of these types on network news or talk shows?

If lawyers knew so much about the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment or any
Amendment, we might actually have free speech. Warrants or probable cause would be needed before the corporate government and its minions – aka the fascists among us—could squelch free expression or invade our privacy.

The Pretend News Networks and their corporate advertising masters struck a blow for thought control when they fired Don Imus. Who’s next? Probably someone who is not a gazillionaire like Imus.

Is Don Imus a jerk? Well, yeah. Does he spew racist venom under the cover of humor? Seems to me he does. It is wearisome and offensive. So what.

The proper antidote would have been to challenge Imus to have tough and witty black guests who would be in his face. I’m not talking about Jessie “Hymietown Spit In White People’s Salad” Jackson, whom I actually voted for in a Connecticut presidential primary some years ago. Nor am I talking about Al “Tawana Brawley” Sharpton, whom I seriously considered voting for the last time around.

Like Imus, Jackson and Sharpton are mixed bags. They have some virtue and a lot of bullshit and larceny in their hearts. They are what they are and whatever low level of integrity they might have, it probably adds up to more than the combined amount of all the network bosses.

The curative for darkness of the heart or mind is sunlight. We need more free expression, not less. Imus might have responded to such a challenge. Maybe he is capable of some transformation, as we all are. We’ll probably find out when he goes on satellite radio or some other venue.

I lost respect for Imus over the years not because of his insults, but because of – underneath it all – his sucking up to fellow jerks like Phony Joe Lieberman. Imus became the wise ass punk who kissed big white butt. He lost his edge and became a dinosaur.

Many years ago, before WFAN existed, I called in to the I-Man and actually got through on station whatever it was. I asked him, “Are you white? Are you naked?” I recall him reaching out to housewives and asking these probing questions of the day. The I-Man was quick, slapping me with a sarcastic line and cutting me off. Time to get quicker, I thought.

I have not watched or listened to Imus much recently. Still, I loved the way he beat on the Irish and the church. Where have you gone, Cardinal O’Connor and the lottery numbers? Maybe Billy Sol Hargus has been reincarnated into Rush Limbaugh.