Today on NPR, Juan Williams was dissecting the Don Imus imbroglio, including his firing, and the discussion turned to why Black rappers can get away with saying things Imus can't. Lots of pop-psychology, history, race relations, and the like were discussed, but I think it all makes this much more complicated than it is. The issue is very simple.
The topic of free speech is moot in this case. This isn't a free speech issue; it's a commercial speech issue. Imus' customers (also called advertisers) are no longer willing to pay to hear him say what he did and the customers for Rap music are willing to pay to hear it.
All the rest is window dressing--including the outrage of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who would both be very sorry to see race become a non-issue in this country since they both have vested interests in seeing poor race relations continue.
A while back, Doc talked about kindness and how we can help or we can hurt. If you or I support, through our actions or our pocketbook, people who make their living by inflicting pain on others, even in jest, then we're part of the problem.