My Solution for Don Imus (and Road Rage)

April, 10, 2007
4/10/07
11:46
AM ET

Wizards forward Etan Thomas wrote a column for SLAM calling for Don Imus's job.

The Don Imus thing, to be honest, gives me a headache. I honestly can't say if I agree or disagree with Thomas. There is, in this world, an infinite supply of cranky nutjobs just spewing this or that nutty idea about sports, race, politics, and everything else. The fact that some have microphones doesn't make me care about them anymore than the ones who don't. I just don't listen. Don Imus doesn't have an opinion that matters to me in the slightest.

In a perfect world he'd lose his job not by public pressure, or executive decision, but by having his listenership dwindle to insignifigance. THAT would send a message.

With all this attention he's getting, though -- he's in big type! -- his ratings are going to get a serious bump. He gets a two-week vacation, and audience. Some punishment!  (And if he does get fired, at this moment when he's as famous as ever? With a massive audience waiting for him? He'll be back in business the instant he wants to be, in some other studio, or online.)

So, I don't know, a big part of me wants to not write about this at all. Or to touch it only vaguely. For instance, I thought the black reporter Imus reportedly once called a "cleaning lady," Gwen Ifilll, handled the whole thing with a lot of class. That's a good read.

But I do have just one little idea. 

My recommendation: we need some kind of paintball gun-based system. Every American gets to shoot one paintball (designed to be painless and invisible after 24 hours -- bear with me, this is a fantasy and a joke, so I can make up the rules) per day at whoever is most annoying to them.

With only one paintball per day, you wouldn't just fire it off at the guy in line in front of you who, after waiting in line for ten minutes, is slow choosing what kind of bagel he wants. (What did they expect you to ask you when you got to the front?)

You'd save if for something good. I'd use a lot of mine from the driver's seat, for instance. I bet a lot of us would. Think about it: dangerous drivers would drive around with a near-permanent graffitifest all over their cars. No draconian punishments. No expensive enforcement. No appearances before judges in backed up legal systems. Just a little instant public shame to make them think twice about their merging skills.

The upshot would be that people who have a hard time being nice, people who talk about one of the best basketball teams in the land as -- I won't repeat the phrase again -- guys like that would spend a lot of their days walking around with a spooge of painty goo all over their button-downs, warning the world that they do not play well with others.

It's kind of like the big STUDENT DRIVER signs that driving instructors have all over their cars. It lets you know to give them a wide berth -- and to unholster your government-issued paintball gun.

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