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Oy, Imus

The earliest use that the researchers at the Oxford English Dictionary can find for ‘ho’—the word used by soon-to-be-former radio personality Donald Imus in reference to the utterly fantastic Rutgers girls basketball team—is from 1992. The 1992 usage comes from the lovely tune Treat Her Like Prostitute, which goes: “Now your girl she don’t like to have sex a lot And today she’s ready and she’s hot hot hot… Next thing you know the ho starts to ill She says, €˜I love you, Harold ’ and your name is Will.”

And they say romance is lost. To recapitulate, we’ve learned that a word was invented just ten years ago by a crew of rappers. The word was formulated, perversely, to have a hint of disparagement, and yet to remain a common term of reference for any woman. (This is the first definition noted by Oxford, and the one Imus used: “Sometimes with weakened force,” the OED says, ‘ho’ means very simply “a woman.”)

And that awful use of the word has indeed persisted. It is used daily by Americans of a certain generation, and in saturation by rappers, hip-hop artists, and corrupt ovoid activists who long ago lost any claim to the public regard and who have done nothing to aid their constituencies but instead pass the time self-aggrandizing by stirring up senseless scandal and making themselves the supreme judges of the sensibilities of an entire race, and who moreover claim to be the final lexicographers of the English language.

Oh, here’s one of them now:

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An aging radio personality awoke from his nap long enough to brush up on this new lexicon, and repeated it on the air. He was far off-base, because he knew that the language he was using was designed to be disparaging. The Rutgers gals are above that; deserve more. But he used it anyway and, as an e-mailer writes, “deserves whatever social and professional consequences come from this.”

What’s irksome about it is not the flack Imus is getting but the demagoguery from the likes of Sharpton, Clinton, and Obama.

UPDATE: An e-mail says that The Tuck Profit is also covering the issue.

ONCE MORE: Now Al Sharpton is vowing a push for actual broadcast censorship: “It is our feeling that this is only the beginning. We must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms the airwaves.” One wonders if Sharpton will allow the “discussion” to go any way but his.

UPDATE: Alex Pareene pretty much reflects my thoughts: “Here ‘s a tip: no one here at Wonkette liked Don Imus even before he said that thing that wasn ‘t really any worse than countless other things he ‘s said before but that got picked up and made into a scandal because, well, we were overdue for a hysterical discussion of racism or something.”

But do read the hilarious e-mails he’s been getting.

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