Photo: AP / Haraz N. Ghanbari
CNN has suspended commentator Roland Martin over tweets during the Super Bowl that GLAAD and others blasted as homophobic.”Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive,” the network said in a statement Wednesday. “Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organisation, 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.”
The suspension broke CNN’s silence on the tweets. Martin had called for beating men who enjoyed an ad featuring David Beckham in his underwear and a man who was dressed in pink. He later apologized for any offence he had caused and said he was not advocating violence against gays.
“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!” he said in one tweet. In the other, he said, “Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass.”
GLAAD said that Martin’s remarks seemed to reflect a history of advocating violence against homosexuals, noting that he had defended Tracy Morgan when the “30 Rock” star said during a comedy routine that he would stab his son if he ever spoke to him in an effeminate voice.
Martin was back on Twitter after CNN announced his suspension Wednesday, and responded to a man who commented on Martin’s appearance on the network’s election coverage Tuesday.
“Nope,” Martin replied. “I’m always giving on-point commentary.”
In a blog post Monday that he called his “final thoughts” on the Super Bowl tweets, Martin denied that he supported violence against gays and bullying.
“That is furthest from the truth, and I sincerely regret any offence my words have caused,” he said.
He also said that he himself had been bullied as a child, and that a bully once pulled a knife on his father for trying to defend him and his brother.
GLAAD said Tuesday that Martin’s statement and discussion of his own bullying was a start, but called on him to meet with gay advocacy groups. It also called on CNN to respond — which it now has.
After the suspension, GLAAD again called on Martin to meet with its members.
“CNN today took a strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community,” said GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro. “Yesterday, Martin also spoke out against anti-LGBT violence. We look forward to hearing from CNN and Roland Martin to discuss how we can work together as allies and achieve our common goal of reducing such violence as well as the language that contributes to it.”
After Morgan apologized for his comments last year, Martin defended them by saying they were within the context of a standup routine.
“Go listen to some of your favourite comedians and tell me if they said racist, sexist, homophobic stuff about any group,” he wrote on his blog. “Go ahead and update/tweet it. I think many of you would be shocked and amazed that you laughed hysterically at some of the most sexist, homophobic, racist stuff.”
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