Here’s the definition:

Exceeding a limit or boundary, especially of social acceptability. 2. Of or relating to a genre of fiction, filmmaking, or art characterized by graphic depictions of behavior that violates socially acceptable norms, often involving violence, drug use, and sexual deviancy.

Two classes of people are most notorious for transgressive behavior — talk-radio hosts and “gangsta” rappers. To turn a buck, they brazenly commit transgressions the rest of us could never get away with. Consumers rain attention on transgressive behavior, which causes advertisers and record executives to sprout up like spring wildflowers. You’ll never go broke selling sin.

What Don Imus did the other day was classic talk-radio transgression. This week he found out there are boundaries for transgressive behavior, particularly in regards to what rich graying white guys can say about innocent black female college basketball players. Imus’s defenders are all about the “well, how come all those black rappers are getting way with much worse day in day out?” Try that in court next time you get a speeding ticket. “But your honor, everybody else was speeding too.”

Rappers selling records while denigrating women is noxious behavior; same is true of the rich-ridiculing-the-poor vibe of right-ring radio. But as long as these transgressions can turn a buck, it means this crap is still a transgression against the norms of acceptable behavior.

Heck, that’s almost something to be optimistic about.