Roland Martin Fumbles the Ball

My friend Roland Martin was reckless with his words and was rightly suspended by CNN, but GLAAD ought to chill with its calls for his firing. You can't always judge a person by a simple tweet. Update: GLAAD to meet with Martin.

TWITTER FUMBLE: CNN suspended pundit Roland S. Martin indefinitely following the uproar over his offensive tweets during the Super Bowl. (Photo: RolandMartin.com)

So GLAAD (Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has gotten someone suspended again. This time it’s political pundit Roland Martin, who was sacked by CNN “for the time being” from his contributor’s gig. I know Roland. I sent him a text of prayerful encouragement to “hang in there … take in the lessons learned … this too shall pass.”

However, despite being his friend, this is actually an easy commentary to write.

Roland deserved the penalty flag. Period. He admitted as much in his statement on his website. He’ll take from this setback that not everyone is anticipating his every tweet, nor is it in his best interest as a public figure to thumb type every impulse in his head — comedic, philosophical or otherwise — out to the Twitterverse.

CNN had little choice but to suspend Roland. Most legit news organizations have some type of morals clause that basically says an employee or associate of the organization must always be on their game, even when the cameras aren’t officially on. Roland knows this.

In a series of comments during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Roland, an award-winning journalist and devout Christian, tweeted the following that landed him on GLAAD’s hit list:

“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!”

Not exactly something Jesus would say — and, frankly, not that funny. GLAAD, not surprisingly, wasn’t amused, which is why they called for CNN to kill Roland’s contract. Though Roland is not anti-LGBT and was simply being playful, the comment is still from another era — like when most TVs were black and white. I liken it to a joke about my wife being better off in the kitchen with the gals making punch and clam dip than in the living room with the fellas watching the game. The fact is, my wife was in the kitchen and other than when our sons played football, she could care less about watching muscle men in tights grabbing and pushing each other for an oddly shaped brown ball and then patting each other on the butts. Nonetheless, the joke’s unintended sexist connotation is obvious.

So, yup, Roland fumbled and should’ve been suspended. But fired? C’mon now, GLAAD.  Is there a black man pattern here? A few years ago it was actor Isaiah Washington, last year it was NBA star Kobe Bryant and comedian/actor Tracy Morgan, now Roland. Black men certainly aren’t the only ones getting into this kind of hot water with the PC Police, but the pattern sure is curious.

GLAAD is definitely right to fight anti-LGBT rhetoric and violence. In fact, we Christians should be defending the rights of all of God’s creations, especially those made in His image — even if we disagree with how some of our brothers and sisters exercise those rights. (We’re not calling for bans against divorce are we?) Sadly, Christians are often the tail instead of the head regarding human rights, cherry-picking the sins we deem most contemptible. As Americans we should never be for restricting the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness of other Americans, because to do so puts our own liberties at risk.

Roland knows this and simply dropped the ball this time. (I suppose the New England Patriots weren’t the only ones.)

GLAAD, on the other hand, is running the risk of undermining its own mission by over-pursuing every misdirected play.

What’s also curious is where the black gay organizations, like the National Black Justice Coalition, stand on this? Will they call for TV One and the Tom Joyner Morning Show (Roland has contracts with both) to suspend Roland too? What does it say about GLAAD that they apparently only focused on the majority white-owned CNN and not the black media outlets? Are the black gays “punking out?” (Oops, can I say that?) Or are they simply wise and more reasonable?

Perhaps a bigger question is whether in this Internet age, where thoughts in a living room can spread globally in an instant, we are going to have to lighten up on PC. Most “tweets” are not fully constructed thoughts like a letter, op-ed, essay, or book. They barely qualify as sentences.

Stringing together a list of someone’s tweets over a period of time does not necessarily construct a reliable narrative of their views either. Haven’t people been doing this with the Bible for centuries, pulling passages together out of context to fit their agendas?

We’ll either have to lighten up on people, or we all better learn fast to tightly script everything we type. Or, maybe we need to realize that not all of our witty musings are profound or interesting enough to post publicly and should just remain in our heads.

Roland knows part of being good at dishing it out is being able to take it.

Roland can take it.

He may no longer be as funny on Twitter, but he’ll be a wiser man.

Update

Now there’s word that GLAAD aims to enlist Roland Martin in its cause against anti-LGBT violence and is no longer calling for Martin’s firing.

GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro said after the suspension, “CNN today took a strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community. 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.”

Ferraro added early Thursday, ” . . . Our goal is to ensure better coverage that works toward ending anti-LGBT violence.”

About the author, Wil LaVeist

Wil LaVeist is an award-winning journalist, professional speaker, and author of Fired Up: 4 Steps to Overcoming a Crisis, Including Unemployment. Contact him at www.WILLAVEIST.com, and listen to The Wil LaVeist Show Wednesdays at Noon to 1 p.m. on 88.1 WHOV in Hampton, Virginia.
  1. “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!” So what part of that tweet was “Homophobic”? If anything it seems aim @ Straight men. As a straight man, I certainly wasn’t offended by that comment, were you?

    • Kristopher: Was I offended? Naw. That’s too strong a word. Look it up. I was more troubled by it for the reasons outlined in the commentary. As human beings we need to be able to empathize with others, if we are to coexist (unless of course you don’t think it’s important to coexist). As a straight man, I can see how a gay man would be offended. Can you?

  2. This political correctness is getting out of hand. After the initial controversy, Mr. Martin expressed his intent. It wasn’t a knock against the gay community. It was against soccer fans. Mr. Martin has no history of purposely seeking to offend homosexuals so he should have gotten the benefit of the doubt. He later caved in to CNN, probably to keep his job, and has since apologized and is now meeting with GLAAD. There was nothing homophobic about his remark.

    I’m disappointed in you Mr. LaVeist in suggesting that CNN did the right thing here. No, the right thing would have been to stand by their faithful employee and tell GLADD, respectfully, that they are wrong. But CNN put dollars ahead of Mr. Martin and caved to GLAAD. This is very dangerous. We are going to reach a point where no one is going to express how they really feel and think because they will be accused of being racist, sexist, or homophobic. The PC police is being given too much power. One day, pastors are going to be told what they can and cannot preach because it offends a certain person or group of people. Some of the things Jesus said would get Him fired today!

    It’s time to put a stop to all this nonsense. The real damage this causes is that when real offenses occur no one will know the difference because all of these cards are played so often.

  3. I think we as blacks are partially to blame for this. We have pitched a fit at every questionable comment, remark and statement by just about anybody. Now we have created a social environment of hyper sensitivity and temperamentalism. So it’s come back to bite one of our own. And we will continue to witness and experience what’s happening now-the chilling and suppression of discourse and the micro scrutiny of conversation.

  4. I am not in defense of Roland 100%, but I am critical of this situation to a certain extent. I agree that Mr. Martin’s comments were offensive and have low character. I think GLAAD is completely justified and valid in expressing their concern along other organizations as well. I do recall Mr. Martin apologizing, which is a start and is just as valid (It is obvious now that him and GLAAD have decided to sit down and have a discussion).

    There is no resolve in wanting to “fire” someone; people will often still perpetuate the same behaviors as before. We have to get out of this “witch hunt” mentality. When people present their vulnerability to learn or rectify their behavior, we must help them. If GLAAD and Mr. Martin want a world of peace and equality, then interdependent allies is a must, meaning the black community, white community, LGBTQAI community, Muslim, Christian communities, etc. must work together for the progressive social change that is advantageous for all groups of people in this world. Getting a black male commentator fired from a field that is largely made up of white privileged individuals will not help in the resolve of “equality.” I would have loved a CNN special on this issue in our country in a critical discussion with Mr. Martin and GLAAD to progress their mindsets, and more importantly, the audiences that they serve.

    When we discuss any type of ism…we have to ally with other oppressed people to address these issues. The reason behind the suggestion of the special is to illustrate the resolution that no both sides ever suggest, to sit down and have critical discussions with Roland on how such rhetoric is offensive, and in turn, for people to become progressive allies. This idea that people can change if they are open to that. We cannot let pride and generalizations stump that “willingness” for people to do so. Also, if we are holding Roland this accountable, then we need to hold ALL accountable who say offensive things in media and social media (no matter what you like or believe!). The platform CNN possesses can help inflict that type of ideology to the rest of America…Thank you. Follow @ATC_BLOG…