CNN contributor Roland Martin makes his living off of words. A few of them led to his suspension from the network and an uncertain future.
While most of the country was watching the Super Bowl, Martin was merrily tweeting away providing a running commentary of the game, the commercials and anything else that popped in his head he figured might amuse his thousands of Twitter followers.
Soccer star David Beckham’s commercial with him stripped down to his skivvies appeared and next came the words that croaked Martin at CNN.
“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!”
If all hell didn’t break loose a small enough piece did and with it the gay activist group, GLAAD, ripped Martin for encouraging anti-gay violence and demanded CNN fire him. Martin later issued an apology, but with his standard sarcasm dripping from it.
“Let me address the issue that some in the LGBT community have raised regarding some of my Super Bowl tweets yesterday,” he wrote. “I made several cracks about soccer as I do all the time. I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise.”
Got that LGBT community? It’s not me, it’s you. As an apology it was inadequate. As far as saving Martin’s job with CNN, it was insufficient.
CNN suspended Martin indefinitely and issued a statement “Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. 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.”
Roland Martin is an experienced journalist and he knows journalists have to be accountable for their words. He is also a Black man with a high-profile gig and there’s a hot spotlight on him. He shouldn’t overshare on Twitter and while what he said was silly and sophomoric, I don’t think it was vicious or homophobic.
GLAAD did and they pounced. They could have seen Martin’s remarks as a teaching moment opportunity to point out how words can be hurtful and homophobic speech creeps out when we least suspect it.
Nuh-uh. That’s not how GLAAD rolls. They’re in the business of collecting hides, not educating minds. They howled for Martin’s head and CNN served it up on a silver platter (but not conservative commentator Dana Loesch who said she’d happily piss on dead Afghanis as U.S. troops have done). The takeaway here is White gays have a stronger lobby than dead Afghanis.
I can’t say I know Roland Martin, but I’ve met him and sparred with him over other issues. Martin is passionate, articulate, smart and he fights for what he believes in. He is also caustic, patronizing, overbearing, and occasionally nasty. Martin can be pleasant and charming when he wants, but get on his bad side (and it doesn’t take much to get there) and bring your lunch for an all day fight.
I don’t think Roland should be fired for his Tweets. He should be educated and learn how homophobia hurts. This is the proverbial “teaching moment” and rather than hang Mr. Martin out to dry, GLAAD and other gay activists missed an opportunity to show Martin and the Black community that discrimination and insensitive speech is unacceptable no matter who does it.
Martin should have known as a Black man in a prominent position, the spotlight is always on and with social media you’re ALWAYS “on the record.” I have never understood why some people can’t go to the john without reporting the details on Twitter, but some folks find these details riveting reading.
But there is a double standard here where a CNN conservative commentator can say she would piss on dead Afghanis and she isn’t suspended, but Rick Sanchez is fired for making insensitive remarks about Jews and Martin is suspended for offending gays. Apparently, CNN is selective about what kind of speech crosses the line depending on what group is demeaned.
Martin objects to homosexuality based upon his religious upbringing and his 2006 article references how his wife ministers to gays to change their orientation. I think that kind of ministering is crap, but I also recognize Martin and his wife believe the same way as other Black folks do. That does not make it right. It does make it a reality.
Mr. Martin is no friend of mine. I don’t even much like the guy, but I do think he has the right to free speech. His employers at CNN have the right to hold him responsible for that speech–as long as everyone else is being held to that same standard and that is not the case.
Martin’s discriminatory words are being matched and trumped by GLAAD’s hectoring and CNN’s cave-in to a pressure group. He was served up as a soul sacrifice on a silver platter to the altar of political correctness gone berserk.
Freedom of speech does not men freedom from taking responsibility for that speech. Martin will have to do the same as Tracy Morgan, Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and everyone else who words have done a drive-by past their brain. Martin is a man of strongly held and expressed opinion and sometimes those opinions come back to bite where it smarts. I’m sure he will emerge from this externally chastised and internally unbowed.
The takeaway from this is other oppressed groups have learned well the tactics of Blacks during the Civil Rights era of protest and how to seize, hold the moral high ground and slap down the oppressor. They have learned it so well they have turned the tables on the once oppressed whom they now consider are oppressing them.
This must be what they mean by poetic justice.
- CNN Suspends Roland Martin Over “Offensive” Tweets – Is GLAAD Satisfied? (eonline.com)
- Should Roland S. Martin be Fired? (bilerico.com)
- CNN suspends Roland S. Martin over ‘offensive’ – some say anti-gay – Super Bowl night tweets (miamiherald.typepad.com)