This week Roland Martin, the CNN commentator whose now infamous tweets during the Super Bowl promoting violence against “dudes” who like David Beckham’s new underwear ad, has him for the time being sitting on the sidelines at the 24 hour news station.
His tweets were offensive and reckless. The past two years have seen a spate of bullying and the suicides of young kids who are incessantly harassed for their real or perceived sexual orientation. There has been so much outrage over the bullying that campaigns such as “It Gets Better” were put together to give kids in high school hope that they too will live to see a better day. So, when celebrities, pundits, and politicians use their soap box to promote violence and vitriol towards the LGBT community they should be held accountable for their words—because words matter.
Once the ‘ish hit the fan of course Martin issued a half-hearted apology—such is the celebrity way (read Don Imus and Tracy Morgan). An apology that subsequently puts the onus on the offended: “To those who construed my comment as being anti-gay or homophobic or advancing violence, I’m truly sorry,” Martin wrote. To those who construed?
Sorry, Roland but I didn’t misconstrue anything…I understand “idiot” just fine.
The issue isn’t just the tweets however; He supports ex-gay therapy as well. Yup, he believes that you can “cure/pray the gay away”. He has 94,000 twitter followers who drink his comments like holy water, so his opinions don’t just stay in a vacuum where they belong—they hit thousands and millions when he’s on air. He promotes the stereotype of how “real bruhs” are supposed to act and what a black man is supposed to do when someone acts out of step—or should I say acts outside of the hyper masculine stereotype.
What’s funny is that it’s supposed to be the younger (read post civil-rights era) generation that is highly evolved and open minded, but Martin is #EPICFAIL in that category.
The problem with great influence is that it requires great responsibility—one that Martin so casually took for granted.
On twitter people have “followers” not “friends”—people who literally “follow” every character that you type—it’s a medium that can be used to spread truth and fallacy, violence and acceptance, and what you tweet out can’t be taken back. So, it’s up to the user to “think before they type”… a lesson Martin clearly forgot.
We can’t overlook comments that people carelessly make because they are placed in the context of a joke. When a joke threatens to harm, it’s no longer funny. These comments undisciplined allow people to think it’s OK to discriminate as long as their hatred is followed by a punch line.
The struggle for equality and the safety of LGBT people in this country is no laughing matter!
And for Martin’s sake I hope he takes his suspension seriously and learns that “real bruhs” should be secure enough in their masculinity—pink ascot and all to let others around them be who they are.
Posted also at The Huffington Post.