Homophobia has no business in black comedy

News of Tracy Morgan saying something outrageous is about as shocking as word that if you splash water on your face it will end up feeling a little damp.

This is the guy who said a former vice presidential candidate was “good masturbation material” and also quipped that the first lady of the United States was somebody he’d like to climb. His chuckle factor might be subjective, but most people would agree that there’s normally a punch line attached to whatever obscene comment he makes.

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That is, until a week ago when reports of a homophobic rant during a comedy show in Tennessee surfaced. On Morgan’s comments, attendant Kevin Rogers wrote, “He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death.”

Morgan also added that kids “learned to be gay from media and programming” and that, “If you can take a dick up your a**, you can take a joke.”

As to his delivery of this tirade, Morgan said, “His entire demeanor changed during that portion of the night. He was truly filled with some hate towards us.”

It didn’t take long for Tracy to catch the clap back from the public at large.

The head of NBC quickly made it clear that these comments were not going to be tolerated by the network. Tracy’s boss, Tina Fey, also issued a statement to echo that his rant was “disturbing” given the recent wave of suicide deaths of several gay youth.

Some of Tracy’s fellow comedians did come to his defense — initially anyway. When the scandal first appeared in the headlines, Chris Rock tweeted, “I dont know about you, but I dont want to live in world where Tracy Morgan cant say foul inappropriate sh*t.”

In response, fellow comic Wanda Sykes wrote on the social media site, “I Do! U Keep the world, just break me off an evolved country.” Rock has since had a change of heart since reading Morgan’s comments in full, writing in a blog entry, “wow i get it that sh*t wasn’t called for and i don’t support it at all.”

There are some out there still willing to defend Morgan, but what are the chances of these same folks coming to the aid of a white comic who made threats to maim his son over miscegenation for cheap laughs?

Sykes is right to be calling for some sort of evolution.
In 1983, Eddie Murphy kicked off his comedy special, Delirious, with, “I’ve got some rules while I’m doing stand-up. Fa**ots aren’t allowed to look at my ass while I’m on stage.” Four years later he responded to previous criticism in Raw, asking, “Do you know what it’s like to have a nation of f*gs mad at you?!”

To his credit, years later Murphy did apologize for his comments though it’s obvious such an apology did little in the way of altering perspectives. In 1994, Martin Lawrence also employed homophobia into his act for his comedy special, You So Crazy. Bernie Mac did the same for Kings of Comedy released in 2000.

Already the likes of Ann Coulter have joined in on Tracy’s gay kid bashing bit, proving that black people are not easily dismissible as more homophobic than any other group. However, it’s hard to ignore that black comics do often include the kind of “punch lines” about gays that begin and end with the use of slurs and are accompanied with words of violence.

If the truth does indeed often lie in a joke, it’s an unfortunately reality that the use of hyper-masculinity and homophobia are easy ways to garner laughs among us.

Yet, as quick as many blacks are to call out other comics on race baiting humor, one would think we’d be a bit more sensitive to groups that share struggles for tolerance.

Or at the very least, see that at a time when boys and girls live in such fear of their truth that they’d rather kill themselves than deal with it that it’s heartless to make “jokes” that could further contribute to the problem.

Violent rhetoric no matter how it’s presented has consequences. If you disagree and continue to snicker you’re within your right to. But I hope you’re well aware of what your laughter can lead to.