On Sunday, New York Times media reporter David Carr evaluated the “Twimmolation” of liberal CNN political analyst Roland Martin on Twitter, and never once cited the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for demanding Martin’s firing, adding just a glancing reference to unhappy "gay advocacy groups." They are presently in the “Smother You With Re-Education” phase with Martin. Carr concluded by sharing all the anti-"defamation" lobby’s political correctness.
That’s not what Al Sharpton said last week. On his radio show last Wednesday, Sharpton didn’t get all the fuss, and insisted it was not nearly as outrageous as what Don Imus said that got him fired:
SHARPTON : I mean I be honest with you when I read the tweet and maybe because I don’t understand the lingo I didn’t understand exactly what the tweet said until you just explained it because it was something like ish and some abbreviations. And I was like what is this all about?
But again, I think that those of us in public life have to be very careful what we say. I’ve learned that. I mean I’ve said things when I was younger I wish I hadn’t said because it didn’t communicate my true feelings. And even in joking way you have to be careful. But at the same time does it come to the level of suspension.
It’s not like he (Roland Martin) said a disparaging statement, or called somebody a name. I mean I think the level of suspension and then the question is see when we went after Imus. There were no gray area there you calling somebody a straight out name based on who they are.
Sharpton ignored Martin's reference to "smacking the ish" out of someone. It's obviously the violent undertones that made him fire-able. At the Washington Post website, Raynard Jackson scorns all the black leaders who walked away from defending Martin and scorns how GLAAD wants you fired first, and then it wants to start a dialogue. Sounds a little backward, he said.
In the Times, David Carr said at first he thought CNN overdid it, but then his consciousness was raised:
When I thought of writing about Mr. Martin’s suspension, I was inclined to believe it was a bone-headed move by a company drunk on correctness. I found some agreement from James Poniewozik at Time, who said, “Denounce the remarks, but as I’ve said before, I’d rather journalistic outlets, which are in the business of expression and ideas, err on the side of letting people screw up.” (He also said that Mr. Martin, who is fond of wearing ascots, should probably not point a crooked finger at the fashion choices of anyone else.)
But I also asked around among my friends — something I would never do as a precursor to tweeting — and got this response from Simon Dumenco, a longtime media observer and a Twitter savant.
He wrote in an e-mail: “The idea of joking that a ‘dude’ expressing a positive opinion about a David Beckham ad — which was really not about David Beckham the soccer star, but David Beckham the half-naked sex god — merits a smack-down? That’s actually not hilarious to me. It’s actually scary to me because it reminds me of social situations in my life where I’ve felt like it would be literally unsafe for people to learn I’m gay.”
Obviously, what seemed like harmless knuckleheaded banter to me landed very differently with people who generally share my values about free and unfettered discourse. I heard the same thing from other smart people who spend a lot of time on both reporting and Twitter.
So while I’m all for letting the tweets fall where they may, I’ve come to understand that just because a thought is tapped out on Twitter doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it seriously. Complicated, I know, and just the kind of nuanced conclusion that would never fit into 140 characters.
But there is no "nuanced conclusion" in what GLAAD does. They want you canned. It doesn’t matter if they couldn’t find any “anti-gay” banter in Martin’s work on CNN. He had to be exiled. Don’t buy any reporter claiming they’re for “free expression” when they find this to be the proper course for cultural sensitivity.
Poniewozik is just as outraged as Carr, but at least he turns the mockery back on Martin:
What guys like Martin need above all is public shaming and mockery, like the comment from a Buzzfeed reader on Martin’s macho-fashion-arbiter tweets: “This coming from a man who wears ascots.”* He does (see picture, above); ironically, he even sells them, some of them in a shade of dare-I-say-it pink. You can see some of his line of neckwear here. I may never be able to pull that look off, but that doesn’t make me any more of a man.