Sure, we need to protect free speech in America, but that does not mean Lenny Bruce was ever entitled to a prime time network sit-com. His act belonged in the smokey side street clubs, and Imus belongs there too.
We have different levels of decorum for different venues, and I for one am very glad to see the American people finally stand up and demand an end to shock jock shout show dramatics.
Our airways are infested with a whole stable of professional hatemongers (mostly from the right) who are making millions of dollars, poking sticks at every little bee's nest they can find.
Our nightly news has degraded into a sound-byte city of snarky wordsmiths who have no regard for the true art of debate.
Our talk shows have devolved from places of public discourse and reason, to a name calling, big time wrestling exposition of closed minded bullies. The more outrageous you are, the more press you get.
If the trend continues, pretty soon our networks will be anchored by the street corner schizophrenics. (Oh well, I guess that's one way to help the homeless, but it definitely would not be my solution of choice.)
I feel bad for the fall of poor old Imus, but he will land on his feet. He wont make as much money now, or wield as much power, but he still has an audience, and he will find a another station willing to put a few thousand watts behind his rusty barbed wire tongue; of that you can be sure. Shock Jocks are like car accidents. They sadden and disgust us, but we just can't seem to look away.
My hope is that free market capitalism will solve the problem through public pressure. If people refuse to listen, refuse to watch, speak out for justice and use their buying power to influence advertisers, it will regulate the hate mongers to a smaller market share, and in doing so, reward the voices of reason with prime time shows and premium pay.
I am not about to advocate taking away any ones right to free speech. I just hope we are smart enough to prevent these people from getting rich while doing it.