Lots of folks this week are talking about Don Imus’ ill-conceived comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, but it wasn’t until I came across Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Betty Baye’s take on it that I thought, “Finally!” Here’s an excerpt:

How deep is the bias? Just look at whom the media sought out when the Imus story broke. Did they ring up the president or the women of Spelman College? Did they call Johnnetta Cole, Julianne Malveaux, Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, Callie Crossley, Vanessa Williams, Nikki Giovanni, Rita Dove, Shirley Franklin, Mae Jameson, Condoleezza Rice, Kathleen Cleaver, Pearl Cleage, Susan Taylor, Renita Weems, Jill Nelson, Sheryl Swoopes or any of the legions of accomplished black women who could bring historical and political context to the harm of calling young women hos? No. Black women were insulted, but the media rushed to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Are black women wearing burkas? Are they so invisible that they don’t even get to speak first about their own pain?

Anyway, you ought to read Baye’s full article.

Imus insulted women, and specifically, black women. He’s been doing this kind of stuff in his mumbly, just below the radar way, for a long time. And I have to admit, I watched him on MSNBC a few times a month in the mornings, and I like the guy, for the most part. I think he did the right thing to go to meet with the Rutgers women’s team, out of sight of cameras, and hear what they had to say. Most of all, I’ve been impressed by those Rutgers women. They’ve received hate mail from Imus’ supporters. Still, they had the grace to meet with him. They accepted his apology.

All this has made me wonder about something else — if so-called “free speech” in the U.S. today is barely more than a media format (like classic rock, sports talk, weather, or fashion).  It wasn’t until after the advertisers bailed that CBS pulled the plug.

Pastor Bob Cornwall has an interesting perspective on that. He wrote a column for the Lompoc (CA) Record about the consequences of words before the Imus thing blew up.

But what of the churches? Of course, the black churches have gotten involved, but what about the mainline? Props to John Thomas, the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, for speaking out. And the Episcopal bishops of New Jersey.

And to the Disciples Justice Action Network (DJAN).