OK. Just what you wanted. Someone else to weigh in on the Don Imus firestorm.

Let me take a little different tack. After doing several TV shows about the week’s events and watching the very powerful edition yesterday of “Meet the Press,” I have come to the conclusion that this may be a watershed event when it comes to racism and sexism in American life. Or at least that is my hope.

I am hopeful that “shock jocks” will go the way of the dinosaurs. But, more important, I am hopeful that the personal, nasty, mean-spirited, vituperative “free speech” will no longer by thought of as particularly free. It costs us, all of us.

Don Imus has had a schtick -- a very successful one -- for many years. It has involved a combination of thoughtful, interesting interviews and crazy behavior.

Don Imus and his wife had what all parties described as an incredible meeting with the Rutgers basketball players. They listened; they were touched and moved by what was said.

Can Don Imus resurrect himself with a real effort to act as someone who will help lead a dialogue on speech, media attention and true healing? Can he use his skills as a communicator, as a personality, as a philanthropist to help teach others to reject hate speech and the politics of personal ridicule? Will he be able to find creative ways to turn this national moment into a national dialogue that will last more than the obligatory week?

Maybe not. Maybe this will all just be a blip on the radar screen. But Don Imus, and others like him, have the power to move this issue — on our campuses, in our neighborhoods, in our homes. And maybe, just maybe, the 24-hour news channels could play a role in taking this dialogue national. This is too important to go the way of the Anna Nicole Smith-coverage blowout. Let that one go and let’s raise the issues brought up by the Imus firestorm to the level they deserve.