Please, CNN's Roland Martin, Explain What's So Funny about Hate Crimes?
CNN's Roland Martin really is a funny guy. Remember when comedian Tracy Morgan performed that comedy bit where he said if he found out his son was gay, he'd stab him to death? Lots of people didn't really see the punchline. But Roland thought it was hilarious.
In fact, Roland Martin took up the righteous cause of defending Tracy Morgan and the right of all comedians to make jokes about stabbing their gay children. The comedian himself swiftly apologized and said his act "clearly went too far and was not funny in any context."
But apparently it was still funny to Mr. Martin. Even after the apology Martin, wrote a passionate defense of Morgan, quoting Bernie Mac to make his point:
"It’s jokes. It’s fun. But it’s the truth. In the back of your mind, you be wanting to say this shit sometimes.”
Morgan stopped making homophobic jokes, so I guess Mr. Martin has to resort to writing his own. Sunday, I was watching the Super Bowl and when I searched the #Superbowl hashtag on Twitter when I coincidentally encountered this reaction from Mr. Martin immediately after a particularly provocative commercial that featured soccer star David Beckham in his underwear.
I rather swiftly remarked that I didn't think that violence against gays is a laughing matter, cc-ing Mr. Martin. Many other people chimed in they felt the same. This is the most retweeted Tweet of the night for @rolandsmartin:
Martin quickly responded to call me and a few others who agreed with me "idiots," which seem to be his general way of dealing with any disagreement. That night he told the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD they were clueless:
well you're clearly out of touch and clueless with what I tweeted. Way to assume, but you're way off base.
Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly engaged him and got some nonsensical explanations about what he meant, if he wasn't advocating people commit violence against gays. Now he's saying they were a "playful shot" at soccer fans. Really? It seems quite clear he was firing shots at dudes "hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad."
I would ask that Mr. Martin please explain the humor to me. Where is the humor? This looks to me like a call to violence masquerading as a joke.
Is it supposed to be funny to discover there is a man who finds David Beckham attractive at your Super Bowl viewing party? In truth, lots of gay people watch the Super Bowl, often with their straight friends. It's certainly been true in my life, though I'm sure it's not the case in Martin's. (Then who knows? Maybe like Rick Santorum, Martin has scores of gay friends who just love him?)
Is it supposed to be funny to imagine a group of guys "smacking the ish out" of that gay person?
Let's take a look at what that looks like, shall we?
Below, we see a picture of Barie Shortell, a 29-year-old resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Last year, Barie encountered a gang of teenagers who while yelling anti-gay slurs proceeded to do as Martin suggests: they smacked the ish out of him.
Barie Shortell, before (left) and after (right) someone smacked the ish out of him. (Queerty)
On the left, we can see what Barie Shortell looked like before he got the ish smacked out of him. On the right, we see what getting the ish smacked out of you looks like.
I don't know, maybe I just don't have Roland Martin's sense of humor, but it doesn't look funny to me. At least Shortell fared better than 18-year-old Queens resident Anthony Coallo who was beaten just the week before, as his attackers yelled anti-gay slurs. I can't show you what Anthony looks like after getting the ish smacked out of him because he's now in a coffin.
I really would like to know what is so funny.
Let's look at some more harmless fun and games, shall we?
In New Jersey, 19-year-old Ravi Pazhani is currently facing the possibility of a long prison sentence because of how his little joke played out. As a prank he rigged his computer webcam to spy on his gay roommate. He then organized a viewing party of the cool kids to watch his odd-duck roommate entertain a man in the room they had been assigned to share their freshman year at Rutger's University.
That evening, Ravi also texted with Michelle Huang, a high-school friend who was at Cornell. “I have it pointed at his bed and the monitor is off so he can’t see you,” he wrote. And, “It’s set to automatically accept, I just tested it and it works.” He later added, “be careful it could get nasty,” and “people are having a viewing party.”
It was all fun and games for Ravi and his circle of friends.
Tyler Clementi (Wikipedia)
Well, that is until Tyler Clementi discovered what they had been doing and how they had been spying on him, and posting gossip and mockery behind his back on social networks.
Then Tyler, at just 18-years-old, threw himself off the George Washington Bridge to die alone in the icy cold waters of New York's Hudson river. Tyler's parents aren't laughing. Tyler's brother spoke to Huffington Post this week, he isn't laughing either.
Ravi and his friends have stopped laughing, too. But like Morgan's "stab the gays" bit, is it still funny to you, Mr. Martin? Why don't you write a column defending the good humor of Ravi Pazhani's harmless, college-hazing pranks? I'd love to read it.
How about this, is this funny, Mr. Martin?
Last year The Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC) crunched the FBI's 2010 hate crimes statistics and found, "The bottom line: Homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crime."
SLPC found the rate of victimization for gay, lesbians and transgenders as compared to that of the other groups was:
- 2.4 times more likely to suffer a violent hate crime attack than Jews
- 2.6 times more likely to be attacked than blacks
- 4.4 times more likely than Muslims
- 13.8 times more likely than Latinos
- 41.5 times more likely than whites
Gee. Why would this be. Do you think maybe if people considered violence towards LGBT people a serious topic and not just a joke that might help?
Maybe if I were a devote Christian "focused on teaching God's Word" like Roland Martin I'd better understand what is so uproariously funny about gays getting beaten up and and made the butt of jokes until they toss themselves off bridges to escape the torment.
Maybe Mr. Martin can point me to the pages in his Bible that inform his great sense of humor?
• Take Action: GLAAD is petitioning CNN to consider seriously the damage to their brand their continued affiliation with a homophobic loose cannon presents.
It might seem an over-reaction if this were a first offense or isolated incident.
In fact, it wasn't even his first offense of the evening. He also suggested men who wear pink deserve to get their asses whippping:
GLAAD's campaign is titled, "Enough is enough," because this is just the latest in a very long line of homophobic incidents with this man, which GLAAD documents. And each time he's shown himself completely unwilling to even go through the motions of being educated or participating in a respectful engagement with his LGBT critics (apparently because he considers gay people to be "idiots.")
He, of course, declares such behavior is an expression of his "religious liberty." Not surprising of a guy who brags his wife is in the business of "praying the gay away," by converting gays and lesbians into eunuchs:
"My wife, an ordained Baptist minister for 20 years, has counseled many men and women to walk away from the gay lifestyle, and to live a chaste life."
Pity the lonely, tortured souls who have "benefited" from his wife's "counseling." We know such therapies result often in greater levels of emotional distress or even suicide. Which is why such efforts are universally condemned by all the respected medical professional organizations.
GLAAD also notes with anti-gay violence sharply on the rise influential public figures should behave more responsibly:
At a time when the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that violence against LGBT people was up 23% we need people in the public eye to speak out against the dangers of anti-LGBT violence, not openly encourage it.
GLADD has started a petition at Change tellijng CNN: Advocates of anti-gay violence have no place at CNN or Time Warner.
Update: Roland Martin continues to make disingenuous explanations about his inappropriate statements. GLAAD, on Twitter, continues to try to educate @rolandsmartin and @CNN on what "smacking the ish" out of someone looks like.