Well, NBC had been conspicuously in the news, as it dealt with the Imus story. But it cracked down on Imus, so if anything, its immediate reputation is for being puritanical and moralistic. Maybe Seung-Hui Cho wanted to be shamed. But maybe it was just the most famous network at the particular moment when he had to make the decision. Or maybe it's just outright offensive to try to perceive the reason in a decision by a patently deranged mind.
Should we condemn NBC? Here's the way you could go with that:
Don Imus calls some young women "nappy headed hos" and we're all supposed be to shocked, shocked I tell you. Cho blows away 32 human lives and not only do we hear no condemnation of the vile person from the big media, but NBC is going to oblige the piece of human debris by airing his "manifesto." Democrat presidential contenders refuse to appear on a Fox Network debate, citing bias, but I guess it's okay for NBC is going to realize Cho's dreams of celebrity status at the expense of 32 lives.There's just so much wrong with that free-swinging attack. For one thing, professional journalism isn't about expressing condemnation or praise. It's about reporting newsworthy facts. There shouldn't be extraneous statements of condemnation. Imus, on the other hand, was an employee of the company, and a business decision had to be made about whether to continue the affiliation.
Cho may have been a deranged psycho, but he was sharp as a scalpel when it came to playing NBC News for his personal patsy. Anything for a point in the ratings. I'm sure the families of the deceased will appreciate the Cho Show as much as they appreciate [NBC News President Steven] Capus's inevitable defense of freedom of speech and the public's right to know. Though I don't NBC will delete any of Cho's possible references to "nappy headed hos."
Moreover, it's ridiculous to think that a mass murder demonstrates that we shouldn't also be concerned about things less horrible than killing. Of course, calling someone a bad name hurts much less than a murder, but the existence of murder doesn't mean that we shouldn't care about our more ordinary social interactions.
What Imus did is trivial compared with murder, but all normal persons already understand that murder is wrong and we're not likely to cross that line. But we really aren't sure where the lines should be with respect to speech about race and sex. We don't understand the full effect of what we say, and we don't agree about how far satire can go and when listeners are being oversensitive. So there's plenty of good reason to talk about this, much more, in fact, than about the vicious murderer.