Monday, July 16, 2007

Idle threat of the week

Back in April the Don Imus controversy allowed Al Sharpton to do the two things he loves best: Get on television and act as an unelected spokesperson for black people.

It was his greatest triumph. Not only did he accomplish (at least temporarily) his goal of forcing Imus's ouster, but, unlike his previous attempts at racial adjudicating, this one didn't end with seven people dying in a flaming building or the high profile humiliation of the supposed victim Sharpton had rushed to the aid of.

Still, the whole affair seemed a little off to those of us who spend time in our pajamas staring at computer screens. "Nappy headed hoes," while certainly an impolite slur, would barely raise an eyebrow if printed on the Wild West-like Blogosphere. Even if it was in reference to a bunch of hard working student athletes who probably overcame lots of treacherous obstacles on their way to hard-earned success.

Since much of the Internet's raunchiness is fueled by advertisers hawking novelty T-shirts and dating services -- and is enjoyed by people who drop all kinds of vulgarity and crude stereotypes in their own comments -- it doesn't seem like there is a whole lot anyone can do to change or shame this anything-goes culture.

Sharpton, in all of his self-aggrandizing glory, thought he caught a rare break on this front when TMZ, a website owned by media giant Time-Warner, called Beyonce a "Roboho" in reference to a futuristic and revealing outfit the singer wore to an award show.

Last week, when he learned of the corporate cyber-characterization, Sharpton fired off a missive to TMZ, demanding an apology or else, and stating: "It's intolerable to think that would find humor in calling Beyonce -- someone who symbolizes the strength, dignity and uplifting of Black women -- a "'Roboho.'"

What, you never heard about this? That's because nobody cared. In fact, the only publicity it received was when TMZ printed the letter and gave its readers an opportunity to mock Sharpton.

While one could correctly point out there is a difference between calling a entertainer (or an entertainer's outfit) a "roboho" and calling an unknown18-year old a "nappy headed ho," I think this episode shows that, at least for the foreseeable future, the Interent won't be regulated in any way shape or form.

For his humorous attempt to do so, Al Sharpton has captured Idle Threat of the Week for July 9th to 15th. Proving, whether he likes it or not, Sharpton might be best at providing low-hanging fruit to those of us who need to figure out something to blog about.

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