Take a lesson from CNN’s Roland Martin and watch what you tweet

Webb-DavidIt’s about time for the highfliers of the world to start giving things a little more thought before they open their mouths and let everyone know about the ugliness festering in their minds — it could jeopardize their livelihood. The latest big voice to stick his tongue in the fire is CNN contributor Roland Martin, a one-time Dallasite who unfortunately tweeted what was on his mind while watching soccer star David Beckham’s Super Bowl underwear commercial. Martin tweeted that if a “dude” at a Super Bowl party gets “hyped” about the underwear ad someone should “smack the ish out of him.”

The inference in that statement is pretty clear. If a guy reveals he likes guys by showing appreciation for the nearly naked, muscular Beckham featured in the ad, then someone should punish him — with violence.

It’s unclear why Martin’s mind would react in such a fashion to the commercial, but it should come as no surprise to the commentator or any other high-profile person that perceived anti-gay remarks will result in an immediate, unpleasant reaction from GLAAD. And that’s exactly what has happened in the case of Martin, whom the media monitoring organization has accused of habitual verbal gay-bashing.

Earlier the same day, Martin, a Houston native who has worked at radio stations and newspapers in North Texas, reportedly posted on his Facebook page that someone featured at the game in a “head-to-toe pink suit” needed a “visit from teamwhipdatass.”  Everything considered, it clearly was not one of Martin’s better days image-wise.

For his part, Martin immediately began trying to explain away his statements as harmless and not at all what the people from GLAAD perceived it to be upon hearing they wanted CNN to fire him. He claimed it was intended as a “crack” against soccer fans and not intended to be homophobic at all.

After that failed to convince anyone that he didn’t really say what everyone knows full well he did say, Martin decided the following day to apologize, saying he could “certainly understand how someone could come to a different conclusion than the one” he meant.

And that apparently turned out to be the case with CNN, which announced Martin’s suspension on Wednesday, Feb. 8 saying “Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive” and, “Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.”

In his defense, although it failed to spare him, Martin noted that he had spoken out on national television in the past against bullying by urging parents and schools to take an “active role in ending this epidemic that afflicts kids nationwide, gay or not.” GLAAD accepted Martin’s apology as a “start,” but it suggested that the commentator should take the extra step of meeting with the organization’s leaders and using his big voice in the future to speak out against homophobic violence as reparation for his offensive and potentially harmful remarks.

That wasn’t a bad idea at all because violence can be incited in impressionable people — especially the young — who view powerful people’s hateful words as justification for violence. Hate crime researchers have long warned that politicians, clergy people and celebrities carry a great responsibility in terms of how their rhetoric might influence others.

In Martin’s case it seems odd that someone who is an African-American TV news personality and familiar with the issues of discrimination and bias-related violence would wind up being chided for perceived anti-gay rhetoric, but that is reflective of the insidiousness of bias. Nasty thoughts sometimes lurk in nice people’s minds, surfacing only during extraordinary moments.

Often, the expression of those thoughts probably is as big of a surprise to the deliverer as it is to the audience, and the result can be harrowing. That in itself is a good reason for everyone to realize that bias against law-abiding groups is harmful to society, no matter whether it is race, religion, sex, age or whatever, and a constant vigilance to fight against it in one’s own head should be undertaken if it resides there.

That’s likely a bigger problem for people who harbor anti-gay bias because of the LGBT community’s relative youth in terms of a legitimate society of people. Anti-gay bias was considered not only acceptable, but preferable for too long for some people to change their thoughts on the subject swiftly.

In regard to gay rights, some people changed their minds long before the laws changed, but for other people the process has been delayed long after the repeal of the sodomy law and the passage of other affirmative measures. Those people continue to struggle to balance their thoughts with their speech. Usually, people accustomed to speaking in public can keep their inappropriate thoughts in check when they are talking or writing, but social media forums such as Twitter and Facebook are presenting new hazards in communication. The immediacy of the communication and its worldwide reach can create big headaches for people, as Martin has learned.

Every purposeless, derogatory statement issued about another person or group has the potential of reaching and offending someone.

Because of that, it might be a good idea for everyone to take a lesson from Martin’s disastrous faux pas and watch carefully what they post on social media. Once it is out there, it’s spreading furiously and it’s not so easy to explain away.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@hotmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Video: You pushed a bad vote, AFA. You didn’t bind our minds or mouths!

- Continued overlooking of the 6,410,482 residents who cast a principled vote against discrimination, with all involved acting as if only the 7,001,084 Californians who voted in favor of Proposition 8 matter in this ongoing conversation.

- Continued attempt to make those who’ve brought legal challenge look “radical” or out-of-line, even though all parties involved must ultimately answer not to their own activist consciences but rather to our shared constitution.

- Continued misunderstanding of the concept of legal standing, with discrimination supporters pretending (a) that Prop 8 proponents are within their legal right to appeal simply because they want to win, and (b) that state officials must defend laws that are patently unconstitutional. Neither of those are true.

So in short: Continued anti-LGBT activism from the AFA:



(H/t: Joe.My.God)




Good As You

—  David Taffet

The AFA, straight (and only straight) from former workhorses’ mouths

For years, Allie Martin has been nothing more than a name to me. He’s been little more than part of the far-right gumbo of reporters who put their bylines on anti-gay stories, in Allie’s case with the American Family Association’s One News Now site. Sure, sometimes I’ve given a passing thought to whether or not individual stringers like Allie are personally supportive or merely complacent in their roles as disseminators of untruths, half-truths, and “holy crap how you could possibly print that?“-s. But mostly, I’ve focused on the indigestion that comes from the gumbo itself, not the individual ingredients who opt to go anti-gay for pay.

That’s probably why I never noticed when Allie was fired earlier this year. From my vantage point, there was no noticeable tone change over at One News Now that’d make me think they’d turned over any leaf. In fact, with the Obama administration, the TEA party, and the rise of Bryan Fischer’s crazy incendiary voice, the AFA’s “news” outlet has gotten more eye-opening, if anything: Less concerned with the “pro-family” conceit, more interested in being the movement’s lead stone-caster.

A fitting introduction to a remarkable new article that Sarah Posner has contributed to Religion Dispatches, wherein the writer speaks with Martin and other former AFA staffers about the rise of Bryan Fischer, the unethical practices of the “news” division, the sweepingly anti-[other] views that fill the staff offices, and a host of other things that we’ve all long assumed about the American Family Association but are still glad to hear confirmed in print. I’m posting a snip, but am also commanding you to go read the whole thing for yourself:

The AFA’s radio and news division, in particular, said Martin, had become a place where authority could not be questioned, and where the “news” was nothing more than a R-Dmouthpiece for conservative “sources” whose views were portrayed as fact. (The Values Voter Summit award citation to Wildmon described One News Now as a “respected online news service.”)

And those views were extreme, even by Martin’s standards of conservative evangelicalism. He said that the director of the news service, Fred Jackson, had a “hateful, hateful attitude” that “carried over” into stories. Martin described editorial meetings in which “liberals were accused of hating their kids,” while Chad Groening, who covers immigration, described gay people as “degenerates” and “reprobates.”

In the newsroom, said Martin, “I saw the tone of stories develop in a way I thought was disturbing.”

“They get people as news sources to say what they want to say but can’t say,” he added.

After Obama got elected, said Martin, “this went up to a whole new level, we have to vilify this man.”

FULL: Former Employees: Racism & Abuse in Leading Religious Right Org [RD]

(H/t: Alvin McEwen)




Good As You

—  John Wright