And now my first offering ever outside the sphere of auto racing. Please pardon and/or enjoy the diversion. There is life outside the track, and one of my lifelong love affairs has been with the field of radio broadcasting. The one aspect of life today that drives me more crazy than any other is the arbitrary outrage of subjectively enforced political correctness, usually driven by rampant hypocrites.
Over the 4th of July weekend Anthony Cumia of the Opie & Anthony radio show on SiriusXM was fired over a series of tweets subjectively perceived as racist. As the story goes some anonymous black woman took umbrage at ending up in the frame of scenery snapshots Anthony was shooting in Times Square. She let him have it. Anthony responded in kind. The lady eventually resorted to physical assault. Anthony walked away. Then tweeted. A lot. Some of the tweeted name calling contained harsh language, but nothing racist. You do not have to be a black woman to be called a ‘pig’ or a ‘cunt.’ Insensitive? Certainly. But fairly normal in life especially on the streets of New York.
Here is the problem. A verbal altercation on the streets of New York City should not lead to job loss. Tweets that contain colorful language about the verbal altercation also should not lead to job loss, particularly when you are paid to be controversial. But it did for Anthony and is suspicious on a number of levels.
Most people dismiss radio acts like Opie and Anthony or Howard Stern as ‘shock jocks.’ Anyone who does so misses the point. Within the frame of puerile, male-oriented humor there exists an intelligence that is actually very rare in media today, more so for Opie & Anthony (and Jim Norton) or Ron & Fez than Stern. Listeners who are capable of independent thought usually recognize thought provoking, insightful commentary that is always there to absorb, not to mention devilish humor that usually flies over the noggins of knee-jerkers. They are masters of their crafts. Many casual listeners are mentally or emotionally incapable of paying attention beyond talk of body parts or excretory functions and that is a waste of their brains.
SiriusXM still advertises the Opie & Anthony channel/show on their web site, positioning it as ‘Intense, edgy talk and uncensored comedy.’ Anthony’s tweets could certainly be construed as intense, edgy and uncensored. But they fired him anyway for commentary that was not even on their airways. At best it is highly hypocritical. Then again capricious knee-jerking is hardly unusual for that organization. Many fans of O & A have begun cancelling their subscriptions to Sirius XM. I cancelled the three I had four years ago not to make any sort of statement, but because after Sirius ‘merged’ with XM and took over, firing approximately 80% of the highly creative group that made the XM platform the most unique, diversified, listenable form of radio anywhere, the product became indistinguishable from any other corporate radio station. Its only advantage was no commercials (except promos) on most of the music stations. The brutally unoriginal lackeys who took over for the displaced truly creative folks were more concerned about polishing Mel Karmizan’s rectum with their noses than presenting compelling radio. Not much has changed since Karmizan retired. Most everything that was anything on XM became bastard stepchildren on Sirius.
The Senior Vice President who made the call to dismiss Cumia is Patrick Reilly. Evidently he can overlook things that actually are racist on the very airwaves he supervises. Like many ‘songs’ on their ‘uncut’ hip-hop channel, or when Sirius star Howard Stern asks aloud whether Patrick Ewing eats with his feet. It would be nice if Mr. Reilly and his peers were honest people but they are not. Their behavior is truly disgraceful and makes a laughable mockery of what they claim to be. If Reilly and selected peers had a shred of integrity they would fire themselves. Perhaps someday someone will flesh out the agenda that led to the dismissal. I keep thinking this Anthony stunt is some elaborate publicity stunt, but the sheer lack of mental agility of suits in charge makes that highly unlikely.
It is not difficult to listen to Opie & Anthony or Ron & Fez when time allows. YouTube searches turn up lots of content, and it’s free. When you listen, actually listen. You will begin to understand how completely foolish SiriusXM looks. What a waste. And now back to our regularly scheduled racing talk.