Is local radio host Mark Larsen a racist?

Kudos to the Times' Eric Deggans for his piece on local radio host Mark Larsen's choice to wear blackface on his show yesterday — the day after the nation elected its first black president. Larsen insists his little stunt wasn't racist; he made a bet last year that if America elected a man with the middle name of "Hussein," he'd come in the next day with blackface.

Because, obviously folks, the connection between "Hussein" and blackface is so clear.

And, of course, his comment about black voters in line looking "like the line for takeout at Big Tim's Barbecue" wasn't racially motivated either. Neither was: “I was gonna’ put a ball cap on backwards…you know, ‘yo!’ but Barack Obama doesn’t do that. You know, he’s not a gangbanger, he’s… uh, he works in a stealthy manner, you know with the Weathermen…” Nope. Just being funny.

See the video for yourself:

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Larsen told the Times he wasn't trying to insult anyone:

"I wasn't making fun of black people," he said ...

And, after Deggans questioned him further:

"If Dave Chappelle can wear whiteface and make fun of white people, then I should be able to do this," noted the host, who stressed his libertarian political views, saying he would have voted for black Republicans such as Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice.

"The point I'm making is there's a double standard here, and I don't abide by the double standard," Larsen added.

But it isn't like Larsen just woke up on Election Day and wanted joke about black people. His show has consistently made racial comments — just last year I listened to a bit where he admitted to avoiding South St. Pete and blamed the (majority black) residents there for the violence that had claimed several lives.

Some of the comments on Deggans' story charge that Larsen should be fired, or his advertisers boycotted.

I don't agree. Spending time on some campaign to oust him is not worth the effort; Larsen is probably this market's least listened to talk radio host anyway. The guy endorsed Ron Paul for God's sakes. And, really, who can take anyone with that mustache seriously?

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