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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Roland Martin weighs in on the Tracy Morgan controversy

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Many of you have probably read about comedian Tracy Morgan and his tasteless rant during a recent appearance in Nashville. Tracy suffered from a lapse in judgment, and has acknowledged as much. Roland Martin, however, is a completely different story.

Martin, a journalist employed by CNN has chosen to defend Morgan, claiming we all find this sort of outrage entertaining. I, for one, do not! Tracy was right to apologize. There was nothing funny about his remarks. Martin, on the other hand, has had plenty of time to think about the consequences of such tragic remarks, but remains supportive, in spite of his obvious hypocrisy!

Case in point, Michael Richards, another comedian guilty of tasteless remarks. Richards cracked under pressure after hecklers repeatedly called him a “cracker”, a derogatory slur, every bit as inappropriate as the ‘N’ word. Let’s be honest with ourselves, shall we. It’s all about intent. Martin, however, views it differently. He apparently sees a chasm in our cultural language. For Martin, threatening to kill gays is fine, as long as no-one mutters the ‘N’ word. How crass! How shallow!

I quizzed Roland Martin about his defense of Tracy’s remarks, and this is what he had to say… verbatim. I asked him: "You have chosen to defend Tracy Morgan for off color remarks he made during a recent appearance in Nashville. I agree with your assessment of the situation in principle. However, and please don't interpret this as a 'gotcha' moment, but I can't help but wonder if you professed the same level of support for Michael Richards after he made similar tasteless remarks?"

Martin: “Actually, you're wrong. I haven't chosen to defend Tracy Morgan. I've chosen to ask some tough questions about all of us when it comes to sexism, racism and homophobia. First, I started following this story when individuals said, 'it's wrong to joke about killing a gay kid. It's wrong to joke about committing violence against kids.' I said to myself, 'Why are folks lying? Every day we laugh at beating kids, someone getting murdered, and things like that.'

So I chose to ask my followers, 'WHY do we laugh at sexism, racism and homophobia, but now get mad at Tracy Morgan.' So I purposely went out and found other comedians who have joked about murdering women, murdering women, beating kids when they are 1-years-old, and asked, 'So are these comedians wrong, or do we give comedians license to say whatever they want on stage?' Now, let me explain to you Michael Richards. I said - on TV - that Michael Richards snapped on a patron. Michael did not have the N-word as part of any routine or comedy bit. I said then, and say now, that had Michael Richards used the N-word on stage, during a bit, it would have been totally different than him snapping on a patron.”

For my money, I am not satisfied with Roland’s response. I shouldn’t need to point out that his own remarks seem hypocritical at best. Martin seems to be saying it’s funny to threaten to kill gays, as long as you claim it’s part of your act, and providing you don’t use the ‘N’ word. I’m at a loss as to why Martin doesn’t simply follow Tracy’s lead and acknowledge the obvious. Marginalizing a portion of the populace is never acceptable, no matter an individuals color or sexual preference.

Shame on you, Roland Martin!

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor
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