Roland Martin appears frequently on CNN and even more frequently in the Twitterverse, where he’s been under fire numerous times for sloppy comments alluding to physical violence in that old school ‘I’m gonna go get my belt’ sort of way. During the Superbowl, the commentator really put his foot in it when he tweeted a response to an H&M ad featuring David Beckham in nothing but his undies. The damning tweet read: “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!”
In response, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) tweeted to Martin that “Advocates of gay bashing have no place at @CNN #SuperBowl #LGBT” and started a petition for his termination from CNN. Martin claims that his tweet was referring to the fact that David Beckham is a soccer player (as opposed to a football player) and had nothing to do with sexuality, tweeting to GLAAD “you’re clearly out of touch and clueless with what I tweeted. Way to assume, but you’re way off base.”
GLAAD did not relent, and released a statement outlining Martin’s homophobic past. This list includes a tweet criticizing a man wearing a pink suit (“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”), his defense of Tracy Morgan’s “gay-bashing” jokes, and the fact that Martin supports religious “ex-gay” therapy performed by his Baptist minister wife.
The petition has picked up steam, so Martin took to Twitter today with an apology. He wrote “I’m sorry folks took it otherwise. It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not.”
The more people in the public eye regularly use off-the-cuff means of expression like Twitter, the more sloppy comments we can expect from them. Roland Martin makes a good case for himself with the soccer bashing claim. However, his history of hostility towards the LGBT community makes that claim harder to accept without taking a closer look.
Where Martin really put his foot his mouth was his use of violent imagery for any reason. It’s all fun and games to joke about using physical violence against someone for small infractions, but the idea of facing physical harm is a hard reality for some people — for gays, for women, for young people who are different — and it’s just not funny.