Roland Martin should’ve known better than to “joke” that you ought to “smack the ish” out of any guy at your Super Bowl party that’s “hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad.”
If not because the comment itself was distasteful, than because a political commentator ought to know better than anyone how quickly an off-the-cuff remark can be your undoing. One wonders why a person paid to offer analysis on the current political and social climate would even tempt fate with that kind of tweet, especially at a time when anti-gay violence has become a pervasive trend.
It’s no coincidence that Martin’s suspension was announced the same day that 20-year-old Brandon White, the victim of a violent homophobia-fueled beating, made headlines on the very network Martin is employed by. Mind you, these attacks also took place in the same city CNN is based in — Atlanta.
Frankly, I’m not entirely sure if CNN’s suspension of the political pundit will do much in the grand scheme of things. I do, however, know one thing is for certain: I don’t share the sentiments of individuals like author and Grio contributor Sophia A. Nelson, who referred to Martin’s punishment as a “high-tech lynching” of an “uppity brother.” He’s not the victim. People like White who fall victim to the sort of hostile environments people like Martin create, are.
It’s unfortunate that a number of straight, black men think their gay brethren can’t be “real bruhs.” Not to mention, while most of his peers seem to think of Roland as a kind-hearted guy, he has a history of doling out comments that largely perceived to be homophobic.
GLAAD, the gay rights group that held CNN’s feet to the fire on the controversy, has maintained a list of said comments and has long protested his employment at the cable news network. Martin’s latest folly merely gave the organization the ammo it needed to get their desired outcome. Martin did himself no favors by initially offering a half-hearted non-apology that only further angered the already upset. He ultimately left CNN with no choice but to take disciplinary action.
I do agree with those who highlight the double standard regarding other CNN contributors — namely Erik Erickson and Dana Loesch, who has boasted about being thrilled over Occupy protesters getting struck by Tasers or urinating on dead Taliban soldiers without repercussions.
It’s certainly not fair, but the lesson in each instance is that minority groups need to rally together to produce the same kind of muscle that GLAAD has. Didn’t Big Mama from Soul Food say “the family’s got to be that fist?” There’s a power in that. See Rick Sanchez’s firing from CNN after making controversial comments about Jews on a radio show in 2010.
And yes, it is interesting to note that GLAAD pushed for CNN to fire Martin but didn’t ask anything from TV One, where he hosts his own show. Nevertheless, don’t cry for Roland. You needn’t cry for Christianity either.
Another consistent defense from Martin sympathizers I have noticed, is this notion that the big, bad, “gay power structure” is assailing poor defenseless Christians. Hooey. Like every other prejudice originally excused by religious citation, this is nothing but another instance of changing attitudes bypassing archaic beliefs. Bigots hiding behind bastardized dogma can whine all they want, but Western societal norms are still largely derived from Judeo-Christian values, not by liberals. If anything, these kind of groups gaining power can be partially attributed to many of the faithful opening up their minds to understand a different point-of-view.
Have we have collectively become overly sensitive? In varying ways, I believe so. Still, nothing has changed in that everyone — including Roland Martin — is free to say whatever we feel on any given subject. However, there are consequences to our words, and in the end, we all have to face them. Martin is now facing the music for his history of homophobia. Ideally, he’ll become a little more tolerant because of it. At the very least, he’ll learn to keep his “jokes” offline.
Follow Michael Arceneaux on Twitter at @youngsinick.