Even More Excessive than Morgan’s Homophobic Rant

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The fact that Tracy Morgan’s stand-up act has degenerated into puerile observations of oral sex (getting turned on listening to women choking on his cock) and fagbashing (claiming if his son were gay, he’d better step up and talk like a man or Morgan himself would stab him to death) isn’t so shocking to me as it might be to others; most of what passes for comedy these days is shock value, laughter from discomfort instead of thought-through commentary and clever perspective.  If Morgan wants to present himself as a comedian worthy of the gutter, that’s his business, as it is the business of others to not spend another dime watching him on stage or in the movies.  He’s just a sign of the times, ranting against gays last week just as Michael Richards just couldn’t stop himself from repeatedly shouting the word Nigger a few years ago.  It is what it is, the nasty blister that keeps the unspoken ugliness of the American id under control suddenly popping for all to see. 

What irks me in this is the liberal (and I am liberal, which means I can be honest about a tendency in my own ranks) desire to equate hate speech against gays with other forms of hate speech, mostly that against minorities, especially African-Americans.  While most liberals find nothing funny about Morgan’s rant inNashvillelast week, some make the attempt to link what he said to racial slurs, trying to make the point that all hate speech is equal and heinous and thus identical in every way. 

Here’s what addictinginfo.org had to say on the subject: 

Recently, Tracy Morgan, star of Thirty Rock and SNL veteran, went on a homophobic rant. If Morgan had been a White man talking about African Americans, his career would be over, but mocking Gays and Lesbians is acceptable to many in our society. (Tex Shelters, 6/11/2011) 

I agree with the liberal tenet that hate speech is not free speech, as designated and protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Hate speech, especially that which incites violence, deserves to be recognized as pernicious and sociopathic, and there is no place in a civilized society for it.  We can discuss whether or not Morgan’s rant constitutes hate speech, if it was something he truly believed, or if his mouth suddenly ran amok and out of control (he has since apologized for his remarks, realizing he went too far).  What I don’t agree in this aspect is the desire to pigeonhole something as hate speech, call it out, toss it in the generic hate speech trash can, and forget about it, lumping it in with all the other forms, where gaybashing, misogyny, anti-Semitism, race baiting, and all the other insults heaped on those based on gender, religion, skin color, or sexual orientation, are collected and mashed together. 

In many cases, African-Americans are appalled by the comparison that discrimination against gays is equitable with the discrimination blacks have faced throughout American history, and in many cases still facing today.  Making such comparisons dummies down both the gay and the African-American communities, patronizes both experiences, and carves their histories up for ulterior motives.  To compare the murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man brutally killed in Wyoming some years ago, with the murder of Emmitt Till, a black teenager brutally killed in Mississippi in the 1950’s, is apt only if you’re going to talk about how ignorance and hatred led to both murders; you have to go further than that if you’re going to talk about hate speech and hate crime, and when you do that, you realize what led to Shepard’s death (a couple of drunks picking him up at a bar and then killing him) is not the same as what led to Till’s murder (whistling at a white woman, a serious violation in the Jim Crow South, led his murderers to hunt him down, beat him nearly to death, and then weight him down and drown him in the river). 

Hate speech and hate crime deserve further analysis than “That’s hate speech and it’s bad, and there’s no point in talking more about it.” 

Hate speech directed at one faction of society is not interchangeable with it being directed at another faction.  Hate speech targeting gays is not the same as hate speech targeting blacks, or women, or Jews, or Muslims.  Unfortunately, it all gets lumped together, and it’s left there. 

As a result, bloggers use hypothetics.  If Morgan were a white comic, talking like that about blacks, his career would be in tatters, that’s the point in the above-mentioned article.  If Morgan were, say, a conservative comic, talking like that about Muslims, odds are he’d be embraced by Michael Savage, who has a long history of broad-brushing all Muslims as complicit murderers who want to do nothing but kill as many Americans as they can.  What if Morgan were a spokesman for the beef industry, talking like that about vegetarians, would every tree hugger seek to stone him to death?  Yes, that’s a bad analogy, but in truth, so is comparing Morgan’s fagbashing with racial slurs, because they’re apples and oranges. 

Morgan has shown contrition concerning his rant, and whether NBC orHollywoodseek to distance themselves from him is their business.  Others can get themselves twisted up in their vitriol over this.  Me, it’s just a sign of the times, another comedian losing his mind and ripping open an American scab.  I take it for what it is and don’t seek to make it into something it isn’t.  Morgan’s conduct, while reprehensible, should be taken in its own context.  It may be considered hate speech, spewing violent rhetoric against homosexuals, but the conversation should stay on that track, about how gays are still perceived and talked about in an America that alleges to have grown up in the last fifty years, an America that tolerates Gay Pride rallies and went through Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  That’s a worthy discussion to have, how our society can claim to be tolerant and open-minded on one hand, yet in many dark corners still equates AIDS with homosexual deviance and the television stereotype is of flamboyance, obsession of image, and reckless promiscuity. 

But let’s keep it in perspective.  Morgan is not a white comic, and his dialogue was not directed at blacks.  The path the collective African-American community has taken to reach 2011 is very different than that of the gay community, hence the insults and violence heaped upon them come from different places.  Morgan, at least to me, is not a hatemonger; he merely fell into the American trapping, the belief that homosexuals are the only minority in this country not protected by political correctness, so it’s still acceptable to make fun of faggots.  We can define the act as hate speech if we wish, and we can consider whether or not that’s what Morgan truly believes in his heart of hearts, but the conversation must remain within that context.  We show the whole episode much more respect when we talk about it on its own merits and not make shoddy comparisons in order to make it look even more heinous.  Morgan should not be let off the hook so easily, hopefully there will be some consequences for his actions, but that’s up to his employers to decide, and that’s up to those who pay to see his stand-up act to decide. 

His remarks, however, should be seen in their own light, in and of themselves, and not bastardized to fit bad logic, hypothetical comparisons, and political agendas.  It dummies down the whole broad discussion of hate speech, and it’s undignified for both the gays he insulted and the blacks the bloggers poorly attempted to compare this to. 

I do find it a little funny and ironic, a grown man with a girl’s name having the temerity to get on stage and lash out against gays.  Here is a man who once played a caricature of a prison homosexual, blowing kisses at Adam Sandler in the remake of The Longest Yard; it makes me wonder if THAT was a hint into the real Tracy Morgan, and his rant in Nashville last week was just fagbashing for the sake of appearing butch, self-loathing run amok, that sort of thing.  I don’t know about any of that, it’s all speculation, but what I do know is, for as excessive as his rant was, it’s even more excessive to try to compare it to similar remarks directed at African-Americans.  It’s all hate speech, but it deserves more than slapping the label on it and moving on.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Laugh at FOX News

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There’s a little game I play with myself when I go to my mother-in-law’s house.  She always has FOX News on the big screen TV, and not wanting to be polite in asking her to change the channel, I’ve developed a mind trick.  Whenever the pundit shows are on, whenever Sean Hannity starts his shtick on how liberals are maniacal and subversive, when Bill O’Reilly gives his version of no-spin which is to criticize Democrats and leave Republicans off the hook, when Glenn Beck pulls out his chalkboard and start his smarminess that would get the average 12-year-old slapped, I imagine the whole production set to a laughtrack, and the pundits are actually comedians.  It turns the whole network into a long episode of The Colbert Report, and just as I’m laughing heartily at Stephen Colbert, I can also laugh at the Right-Wing Noise Machine. 

I have to be able to laugh at them, because if I didn’t, they would drive me crazy, just as they’ve driven me crazy in the past, just as they continue to drive people crazy today.  The complete crap that comes out of their mouths is often mean, false, and downright ludicrous.  The lengths they go to in their pursuit of demonizing Democrats and leftists boggle the mind.  That’s their whole raison-d’etre, to be the pitbull for the American right, running interference for Republicans, saying the vicious and preposterous things GOP Senators and Congressmen are thinking so they don’t have to actually say it themselves.  Half of what comes out of their mouths is spoken just to piss off liberals, you have to know this to be true by now.  

You have to laugh at them.  Don’t give yourself over to hyperbole, this is not world-class propaganda, and Roger Ales is not a nouveau Joseph Goebbels.  This is shtick.  FOX News is a one-trick-pony, they are naked about it, they don’t even try to hide it.

But you have to put this in the proper context.  FOX News is just one network.  They are not noted for journalistic integrity.  Their show hosts are hired on two qualities:  attractiveness and willingness to say whatever the producers put on the prompter.  While there is a string of right-wing blogs out there with modest popularity, like The Free Republic and The Drudge Report, most Americans don’t consider them newsworthy enough to take them serious.  Everyone knows their business by now. 

Liberals and other sane citizens need to learn how to turn THIS...

Every so often, though, because too many liberals consider them dangerous in their ability to get into American living rooms, they are taken seriously, probably more so than FOX takes itself.  A prime example was last year, during the Shirley Sherrod fiasco, where the FOX intelligentsia took a small snippet from a speech she made and tried to make it seem she and the NAACP were racist; it was so successful that the NAACP berated her and she was fired from her federal job; it took CNN, a network still clinging to journalistic integrity, to set the record straight, to show the entirety of the speech in question, to interview Sherrod and others mentioned in the speech, and instead of this being an issue of racism, it became an inspiration on how one can transcend racist thought.  At the end of the day, FOX was ROTFLOL, saying transparently, if liberals contend this network is just lies and propaganda, why did they jump so high to initially condemn Sherrod when we aired our story?  Instead of apologizing for their actions, FOX simply spun the story to make it seem like there was something, nothing they could put their finger on, but something still amiss in the whole affair, something still smells fishy about Sherrod, and the story went away. 

...into THIS.

And apparently, so did liberal memory of the event. 

This is not an attempt to bash FOX.  They are a known quantity.  We know them for what they are.  They are the untrained dog that poops on the floor and tears up the couch when you’re gone for the day, and then looks at you like it was your fault for bringing it home in the first place, you knew I was going to do this, why are you blaming me? 

This is, however, a criticism of American liberals who still, after all these years, get so bent out of shape whenever FOX says something ridiculous. 

This week, while the world is praising the United States for finding and killing Osama bin Laden, and while much of the world is patting Barack Obama on the back for showing leadership and determination in collecting intelligence and ordering Navy Seals to pull this off, FOX is trying to gain political points for former president George W. Bush.  I’m reading liberal comments on the Internet, primarily on Facebook, agog with FOX’s attempts to spin all this into a GOP win.  My response to those comments is, are you really that surprised?  You know they’ll never give Obama respect, you know their entire reason for being is to spin anything and everything to favor Republicans and demonize Democrats.  Why, then, are you dismayed when they act as they’ve acted for the last twelve years? 

Here’s the answer.  Because liberals think FOX’s lies and dirty tricks are effective, and any American who watches one of their pundit shows for five minutes will be whirled away into their web of deceit.  Yes, there’s a sucker born every minute, and no doubt there are viewers that take their broadcasts for gospel.  They have yet, however, to truly damage American politics, with Democrats competing just as well with Republicans on a national level, thank you very much.  FOX does not accurately depict conservative values; they only accurately reflect the viciousness of Washingtondiscord.  What is going on in this country, from a tanked economy to tanked foreign policy to never-ending wars for vague reasons, these are all problems started long before FOX put together their news network, and now they’ve all come to their natural conclusions.  FOX did not put Tea Party candidates in Congress, that was a reaction to the status quo, and voters primarily vote by their pocketbooks.  They did not get George W. Bush in the White House, the Supreme Court trumped the Constitution to do that.  Everything you see today is the push-pull of politics, and after enjoying most of the 20th century with sane, equitable liberal politics, the last thirty years have seen the conservatives push back, until they’re on the brink of undoing the New Deal and destroying people’s rights to collective bargaining. 

All of this, however, took decades to come to fruition.  FOX did not cause these problems, they’re only taking these problems and spinning them to make Democrats look bad.  Had FOX had real influence, the Democratic Party would have died years ago, with Republicans enjoying one-party rule, and theUSwould have become Ayn Rand’s wet dream, a conservative paradise. 

This is only my opinion, but FOX only has power if we give it to them.  We get irritated by them because we allow them to irritate us.  At this point, I’ve come to believe that FOX, like Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh, thrives on having two audiences, a small but loyal audience that gets real entertainment from the show, and a larger one that hangs on their every word to find the lies, to debunk the propaganda, to discover new reasons to get pissed off.  Liberals form the latter, and at some point, we have to recognize this and pull the plug. 

Thus, I have to tell you, if you watch Glenn Beck with the premise in mind that he’s a comedian spoofing conservative zealotry, you will be able to laugh at it.  You won’t need Jon Stewart to do it for you, as he often devotes much of The Daily Show doing.  You’ll be able to do it yourself.  Thus, when you’re flipping stations on the TV, and you inevitably linger on FOX for a few seconds to see what crap is flying from their cakeholes today, you’ll be able to move on with a chuckle, because you’ll see it as comedy, not propaganda.  Life’s too short to worry about this, and you have to remember, we’re liberals, we champion the First Amendment, we support diversity of thought, even if we don’t agree with it.  Knowing half of what comes out of Sean Hannity’s mouth is said just to piss you off, you can’t give him power over you, you have to laugh it off, you have to see him as a comedian instead of a liar. 

Or just change the station and move on. 

Either way, keep FOX in the proper context, and don’t make them into more than they are by giving them power over you.  Kill them with laughter.