“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped up about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!” tweeted CNN commentator Roland Martin last Sunday, responding to a commercial during the half-time show at the Super Bowl. The tweet has since garnered a lot of controversy, and put Martin under fire from the LGBT community, with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) taking the lead in petitioning for Martin to be fired from CNN.
While the very legitimate concerns against violence and hate crimes toward the LGBT community stand, Martin’s bad joke may have been misconstrued, and the whole thing was unreasonably blown out of proportion.
A follow up to an earlier tweet urging men not to buy “some damn David Beckham underwear,” Martin claims his questionable tweet was, in fact, a crack at the soccer player, and the sport. Metro Weekly has since skeptically asked “Why, if the tweet was about soccer and not based in anti-gay sentiment, he only referenced his concern about a dude.” Forgive my simplistic analysis, but I believe it to be because the H&M ad’s target audience for men’s underwear was, in fact, men. Granted, that does not entirely explain the weird tweet, but assuming it was about Beckham’s sexuality instead of his sport or the product, and jumping to conclusions of homophobia and violence are just as dangerous.
The overly-sensitive reaction of GLAAD to this tweet is not doing victimized LGBT youth any favors. Instead of focusing on outright homophobic media statements, of which there has certainly not been a lack of, the organization is embarking upon a war of principle against a journalist’s ambiguous informal tweet, encouraging an exaggerated sense of political sensitivity and an artificial sixth-sense awareness of sexual orientation issues for the LGBT community. Members of this community who have been verbally and physically victimized deserve better than this paranoia.
Martin has since rightfully issued a formal apology to GLAAD, and posted an explanation on his personal website. “As I said repeatedly, I often make jokes about soccer in the U.S., and my crack about David Beckham’s commercial was related to that and not to anyone’s sexuality. To those who construed my comment as being anti-gay or homophobic or advancing violence, I’m truly sorry. I can certainly understand how someone could come to a different conclusion than the one I meant. I’m disheartened that my words would embolden prejudice. While public debate over social issues is healthy, no matter which side someone takes, there is no room for debate as to whether we need to be respectful of others,” he wrote.
Despite the apology, GLAAD is still petitioning to get Martin fired. Instead of nitpicking at words, organizations would better serve the LGBT community by tackling hate crimes, violence and death, suicides, gay marriage, military service, or the many other relevant issues at hand. Martin’s tasteless joke, along with his apology, should be dismissed as irrelevant, and forgotten.
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