Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What to do about Roland Martin and This ain't about free speech

This morning, I just listened to the most frustrating conversation about the Roland Martin Super Bowl controversy. If you're not clued in, on Sunday, Martin, a CNN contributor aired some troubling views on Twitter. In response to the H&M ad featuring David Beckham in his undies, Martin wrote that "real bruhs" would not purchase underwear modeled by Beckham and that any man at Super bowl party excited about the commercial, featuring caressing shots of Beckham's toned and tattooed body, should have the "ish" slapped out of him.

At best, Martin's comments were tired gender policing; at worst they advocated violence against men whose desires mark them as not "real bruhs." I'm sorry, Martin's defense that he was ragging on soccer fans and in no way referring to sexuality or machismo beggar's belief. He also tweeted of a Pats fan dressed in head-to-toe pink that "He needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass." Considering the high incidence of violence against people who fail to fit into society's notions of "proper" gender and sexuality, Martin's comments, made as a public media figure, were offensive, irresponsible and indefensible. (And no, the racist backlash from some white members of the gay community doesn't mitigate what Martin said either. Two wrongs and all that...)

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has called for CNN to fire Martin. I support their efforts for the same reason I supported efforts to remove Pat Buchanan from MSNBC for his frequent racist ramblings. Bigotry has no place in the mainstream. And marginalized people have a right to rally with their allies against hateful treatment.

Cue the "what about free speech" people.

In arguments over this event (and, it seems, every other event surrounding public figures saying awful things and pay the price), someone cries about "policing" and "free speech" and a whole bunch of other stuff that proves they haven't read the First Amendment, which says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That's it. No mention of being able to say whatever you want and people can't be angry about it or that there won't be consequences.

So, for those of you who think Roland Martin's freedom of speech is being impeded, I'm just gonna put this old post from the What Tami Said vault right here:


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