Don Imus has been given a second chance. Now he has to prove he deserves it.

Back on the air is the radio host whose racist comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team cost him his job in April.

Imus sounds as if he has learned a lesson. He said Monday that he deserved to be fired for "making an essentially reprehensible remark about innocent people who did not deserve to be made fun of." (He had called the players "nappy-headed hos.")

Imus said his "lame" apologies to the Rutgers players in a meeting last spring were "so irrelevant to how they felt."

"I will never say anything in my lifetime that will make any of these young women at Rutgers regret or feel foolish that they accepted my apology and forgave me," Imus told his audience.

When CBS fired Imus, some of his supporters tried to portray him as a victim of political correctness run amok. That wasn't the case, and nobody knows it better than Imus himself. There is a constitutional guarantee of free speech, but there is no constitutional right to have a national radio show.

The marketplace punished Imus justifiably by taking away his microphone. Whether his new show becomes as popular as the old one depends on him and his audience. Many may be willing to forgive, but tuning in is another matter.

Frankly, we don't care whether Imus recaptures broadcast glory. But maybe this time he will find a way to be funny - and resist insulting people who don't deserve it.