The only person happier than Larry Birkhead about the big announcement that he is the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby is Don Imus. By the way, what’s the word for a woman who gives birth to a child of uncertain paternity?

English speakers in America need a rule book to tell us what people can say what words when, and under which set of circumstances. The rule book will be longer than the Patriot Act and will require weekly updates as new words and circumstances are added. Perhaps a Nasdaq-style ticker would be more efficient.

Depending on which TV show you tune into, what Imus said was wrong because: (1) His show goes out on FCC-regulated airwaves; (2) he regularly interviews people like Sens. John Kerry, John McCain and Joe Biden; (3) he spoke at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner a few years ago; or (4) he’s not black.

Perhaps sensing that such constantly scrolling rules have a whiff of fascism about them, the scowling Miss Grundys of the world think they have hit on the perfect omnibus rule. They instruct us to “be nice.”* (There’s a word for the grim Miss Grundys, but apparently I’m not allowed to use it. Sarah Silverman is. This will be all in the rule book.)

The requirement to always “be nice” would be the end of Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, two of the funniest comedians in America. Let me rephrase that: It would be the end of all humor. Even Bob Hope cruelly implied that Democrats didn’t support the troops when he joked to the troops in Vietnam: “The country is behind you 50 percent.”

At least we’ll still be able to watch the “Charlie Rose” show! Actually, for all anyone knows, Rose is calling women “nappy-headed hos” on TV every night since no one has ever seen his show.

In addition to ending all humor, we’ll lose all political debate. For Americans over 4 years old, people in the public sphere are engaged in serious arguments — over abortion, illegal immigration, how much money the government takes from you, and the pre-eminent battle of our time against Islamic fascists. The “be nice” admonition is the sort of thing stupid girls say when they can’t think of anything substantive to say.

I, for one, promise to implement the “be nice” policy just as soon as the other side does.

Say, does anyone remember if Winston Churchill was “nice” in his public pronouncements about his fellow countrymen?

No, I don’t think he was! This is what Winston Churchill said about the Labor Party’s Ramsay MacDonald:

“I remember when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum’s Circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the program which I most desired to see was the one described as ‘The Boneless Wonder.’ My parents judged that the spectacle would be too demoralizing and revolting for my youthful eye, and I have waited 50 years to see The Boneless Wonder sitting on the Treasury Bench.”

And guess what public figure was constantly accused of making “outrageous” remarks, trading in “insults, trashings and character assassinations”? Of what public figure was it asked: “Who can examine this record of insults and say that here is a man of class?”

That’s right: Ronald Reagan. Those particular quotes are from Washington Post columnists Richard Cohen and Colman McCarthy.

Was Reagan “nice” to the Soviets? They certainly didn’t think so. The Soviets constantly denounced Reagan as “rude,” and our dear friends at the BBC upbraided Reagan for his “rude attacks” on Fidel Castro, Nicaragua and the Soviet Union. Post columnist McCarthy charged that Reagan had “put down an entire nation — the Soviet Union — by calling it ‘the focus of evil in the nuclear world.'”

Oh dear! Reagan wasn’t “nice.” No wonder he never accomplished anything.

One more item for the delusional Miss Grundys still obtusely citing Reagan as their model of “niceness”: As governor of California, Reagan gave student protesters at Berkeley the finger. Remember that next time you ask yourself: “What would Reagan do?” (And not “the simple wisdom of Grandma – ‘That’s not nice.’”)

People who are afraid of ideas whitewash Reagan like they whitewash Jesus. Sorry to break it to you, but the Reagan era did not consist of eight years of Reagan joking about his naps.

The reason people don’t like what Imus said was because the women on the Rutgers basketball team aren’t engaged in public discourse. They’re not public figures, they don’t have a forum, they aren’t trying to influence public policy.

They play basketball — quite well, apparently — and did nothing to bring on an attack on their looks or character. It’s not the words Imus used: It would be just as bad if he had simply said the Rutgers women were ugly and loose.

People claim to object to the words alone, but that’s because everyone is trying to fit this incident into a PC worldview. It’s like girls who say, “It’s not that you cheated on me; it’s that you lied about it.” No — it’s that you cheated.

If Imus had called me a “towheaded ho” or Al Sharpton a “nappy-headed ho,” it would be what’s known as “funny.” (And if he called Anna Nicole Smith a “flaxen-headed ho,” it would be “absolutely accurate.”) But he attacked the looks and morals of utterly innocent women, who had done nothing to inject themselves into public debate.

Imus should apologize to the Rutgers women — and those women alone — and stop kissing Al Sharpton’s ring.

This wasn’t an insult to all mankind, and certainly not an insult to Al Sharpton. Now, if Imus had called the basketball players “fat, race-baiting black men with clownish hairstyles,” well, then perhaps Sharpton would be owed an apology.

* Peggy Noonan, ‘That’s Not Nice’, The Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2007.

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