“He said it first!"
Many times over the course of my career as a mom, I have heard those words being used by one child in an effort to lesson the ramifications of impending punishment for saying something mean to a sibling. To a child, it is perfect justification of an offense to simply be the repeating offender and not the originator.
I didn't buy it then.
And I don't buy it now.
For example, I don't buy it when I hear of radio talk show host, Don Imus, defending his ugly comments about the Rutgers University girls' basketball team.
As a mother of two girls, I have tried over the years to refrain from allowing language in the house that defines or limits my daughters on the basis of their physical appearance or sexuality. I have banned songs, TV shows, and occasionally, even friends.
Of course, my daughters, ever members of the millennial generation, would roll their eyes at my over-protection. "We hear worse in the hallway at school," they would argue when I confiscated a CD that was rejoicing in what the female singer could do to a man.
That didn't matter.
I was determined my girls would grow up knowing they were more than their looks. They were more than their gender. They were more than what a culture might try to label them.
And so it is when a man with a microphone references a group of intelligent, athletic college women in a racist and sexist way, and with one smack of a phrase belittles them into nothing more than an offensive stereotype, I want to ban him as well.
Of course, Don Imus would soon argue the argument my children always tried, by saying he didn't invent the terminology. It can certainly be found in any rap song now playing on any Ipod at any moment.
And he is right.
But the fact that he is basically saying, "I didn't start it" offers him no more respite from the fall-out than it offered my children when they were little. There still needs to be ramifications and punishment.
Perhaps it is time we all quit worrying about who said something insulting and offensive for the first time, and focus more on making sure Don Imus said it for the last time.