In the wake of Roland S. Martin's suspension from CNN over homophobic tweets, a remedial teaching moment has arisen. For many, the events thus far are basic math: Public Figure + Public homophobia = public discipline. Some however are confused over that formula. Frequently asked questions include;1. "What was homophobic about what he said?"
2. "Isn't this an overreaction?"
3. "What happened to Freedom of Speech?"
I will make this quick, because the rest of the class is being held back by these repeat discussions: Class Mammilia, and not just Genus Homo. If you are playing ignorant of the offensiveness in this simply to maintain deniability, please exit the room. For those who truly don't understand, you may believe his statement that this was an insult intended for soccer, not gay males. Many were injured by the eye-rolls this instigated. In response to the question, I offer Exhibits A..
"If a chick at your Super Bowl party is hyped about the David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of her! #superbowl"This is the same text with a gender change. Does this still read as an insult to soccer to you? You can say yes. It won't carry much weight, but you can say it. If this is the center of your defense, the prosecution rests.
#2 No. I personally did not want this situation to escalate as it has, but it was entirely predictable. I would say Mr. Martin was lucky to only be suspended. Shirley Sherrod, whom Martin helped get FIRED for misconstrued words advocating INCLUSION, would probably agree. It may seem like an overreaction to those who weren't offended, but this reaction by the offended members is pretty common these days.
#3 You still have your freedom of speech, it just can be used against you even outside a court of law. You don't need to be on TV for this to be true, but it's especially true for public figures. Whatever you identify yourself as (race, sexual orientation, religion, neighborhood), it is presumed you have opinions about the people who don't identify as such. When you are an on air personality, keep those opinions to yourself. They all understand this, which is why they deny it so passionately when one slips out. Yes, offending gays is exactly like offending Blacks, Whites, Catholics, Women, or whomever. Nobody get's to decide when they're offended it's worse than when you are offended. When offended, advocates of those groups will attack using the same freedom of speech Martin supporters use to defend what happened.
What is the big deal? The very day Mr. Martin made his misunderstood soccer bash, a video was circulating of actual gay bashing. A young man was shown unexpectedly attacked and beaten while the cameraman repeated "No faggots..." It is a very big deal. You are either ok with such behaviors or not. He may not have meant the same thing as the video equates, but what he said was the same thing, joking or not. My advice is if a public figure jokingly advocates for actually occurring violence against a group, smack the ish out of him.