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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 10, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 06
CNN analyst suspended for homophobic tweets
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CNN analyst suspended for homophobic tweets

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

When will entertainers, politicians, and news personalities realize that Twitter and Facebook can land you in hot water just minutes after typing or tweeting an anti-Gay remark?

CNN's Roland Martin is the latest commentator to fall victim to the curse of social media blathering. The political pundit has been suspended by CNN after he sent several messages on Twitter which seemed to support violence against people perceived to be Gay.

While sending out tweets (text messages sent out on the popular social media tool known as Twitter) on Super Bowl Sunday, Martin wrote that a man wearing pink should be visited by 'teamwhipdatass,' then told his followers, 'If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!'

Naturally, the Gay media watchdog group, GLAAD - whose slogan is 'Words and Images Matter' - called for CNN to immediately take action. The cable news giant responded by suspending Martin on February 8.

'Roland Martin's tweets were regrettable and offensive,' said CNN officials in a statement to GLAAD. 'Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.'

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has found that violence against LGBT people was up 23% last year. Seventy percent of the victims murdered were people of color, and 44% were Transgender women.

Roland Martin and CNN have both now made statements telling their audiences that there is never a reason to advocate violence against people who are (or are perceived to be) Gay, no matter what the intent.

'CNN today took a strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community,' said GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro. 'Yesterday, Martin also spoke out against anti-LGBT violence. We look forward to hearing from CNN and Roland Martin to discuss how we can work together as allies and achieve our common goal of reducing anti-LGBT violence as well as the language that contributes to it.'

Since the controversy began, however, some have insulted Martin's personal character and the fact that he is a black American when discussing this issue. GLAAD strongly condemns these attacks. 'There is no excuse for race-based attacks or hate speech,' said officials.

Bloggers, advocates, and thousands of supporters joined GLAAD in calling for the network to take action and stand up against statements of violence towards people perceived to be LGBT.

'Even if he meant it in a jovial manner, Roland Martin's words carry a real impact on the everyday lives of black LGBT people, especially our youth,' said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation's largest black LGBT civil rights organization. 'Given the number of rash murders, attacks, and violent acts involving LGBT people of color, we cannot let statements such as this go unchecked. Silence is a form of acceptance and only perpetuates the problem.'

But not everyone is pleased with GLAAD's call for justice. Many expressed their sentiment that GLAAD officials are stirring up a hornets' nest over a non-issue. Some have wondered whether Martin's comments were really all that bad.

'I think it is sad that this organization has decided to essentially turn into a bully,' wrote user tjam04999 on GLAAD's website (www.glaad.org) on February 8. 'A bully is a person that punishes people for not believing in what they believe in or not doing what they want them to do. I have looked at Roland's tweet and couldn't help but think this is ridiculous. This is the same argument that was used against rappers. Since a rapper raps 'kill him if he steps on your shoes' if a person does it then it is the rapper's fault. Freedom of speech is something that makes America different from other countries.'

In a post entitled 'Ridiculous,' commenter skynana10 wrote, 'Since when did pink suits and an underwear commercial become a Gay slur? Metrosexuals should call for the firing squad against him. GLAAD, you are so wrong and beginning to resemble everything your founders fought against. Was it a stupid statement? Yes. Was it an anti-Gay slur? No. I am not impressed.'

Still, GLAAD officials remain steadfast in their conviction that words do hurt and can have a negative impact - sometimes resulting in violence.

'Just one day after Martin made his comments, a video of a black Gay man in Atlanta being brutally beaten went viral. The 30-second (very graphic) clip shows a group of men kicking and punching the unsuspecting young man outside a convenience store, while repeatedly using anti-Gay slurs,' said GLAAD officials. 'This is what it looks like when someone gets their '*ss whipped' or has the 'ish smacked out of them' just because they're perceived to be Gay.'

GLAAD officials report that they have 'reached out to both CNN and Roland Martin' and have 'offered to meet with both parties to discuss ways we could work together to increase awareness and further the dialogue about violence against the LGBT community.'

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