Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SmartAss Commentary: On Tracy Morgan

Two big posts in one day!

If you do not know the story of Tracy Morgan performing at a show and telling an audience that should his hypothetical gay son approached him in an effete manner that he would stab him to death in the neck, you can find out more here and here and here, along with your usual sources.

I have read and heard some unbelievable arguments in favor of Morgan’s tirade, and while [spelling edit] they (and some of their sources) have stunned me, I remain in #TeamThatWasStupidHatefulandWrong. One included that the Facebook author of the expose was not adhering to some standard of “objectivity.” Why should this author, upon hearing Morgan’s hate, have any obligation to be objective regarding what he heard? Why is the burden always on those knocked about to give others the benefit of the doubt? What does the injured party owe to the oppressing party?

Oh, and a flying fuck you to people that say we should be objective about things like this. Frankly, if you can remain coolly aloof and objective about issues of social justice, then you can very well fuck off. If the oppression and degradation of others does not pitch you into a seething caldron of sadness, anger, and righteous rage – then you simply do not care enough to matter to me.

The most interesting part to me is that the argument for Morgan’s free speech is to restrict the free speech of people that found his bit to be offensive. That people are infringing his right to be offensive by speaking up about being offended. Tracy Morgan has freedom of speech, but no one else can have freedom of speech regarding how he uses his? Morgan saying he'd stab his gay son - that is fine, but speaking up about the propagation of anti-LGBTQIA violence, particularly against children, well - that is just out of line and unfair?!?

Remember, constitutionally protected speech means protection from government censorship – not protection from being less marketable. Morgan the man can think and say as he likes, but Morgan, the company, which is that man on a stage making money - he is in the marketplace of ideas and his ideas were loudly rejected. You can't ride that pony to fame and fortune, and then kick it when it bucks you for being an ass.

To argue that one is “allowing” themselves to be bothered by Morgan’s stance that LGBT people should man up and quit being pussies regarding bullying and such is to argue from a position of privilege and to negate the experiences of LGBT people. It also negates the experiences of children and teenagers. One of my most proud parenting moments was when my eldest daughter came to me out of the blue and said, “Thank you for not forgetting what it is like to be a teenage girl.” You forget that young people do not have the social calluses that we develop with age and experience. You blow off the things that cause them genuine distress, because to connect with that feeling is to remember all the slights and wrongs from when you were that age and admit to being that vulnerable, that tender – all over again.

But, but, but – we are taking money out of Morgan’s pocket when we do not like what he said! YES, WE ARE AND THAT IS THE POINT. Morgan’s pockets are lined with our money – he got it by saying things we (the general public) like in the first damn place. He decided to make his living via pleasing the public. Again, this is the free market at work, the free market that has been so very, very good to Morgan. Some say that people can express their opinion, but it shameful when they do to the detriment of someone that makes their living by interacting with the self-same public - that is twisted logic. What does that even mean? We are allowed to like an entertainer’s work, but not allowed to dislike it? There is nothing coherent in that stance.

To those that say “Oh, we don’t know he said that! All we know is what one offended guy wrote!” In all of my reading about this issue, and I have done a lot – there is one thing I have not seen and that is Tracy Morgan issuing any kind of denial. No one that attended the show has claimed that the bit description was untrue. He is headed to Nashville to apologize personally.

I have seen and heard some arguments that depend on the “Equal Opportunity Offender” line of reasoning. You know, when the discrimination, hate speech, abuse, and murder of LGBTQIA and queer youth are distant, horrific memory - then it can be a joke. I am of the opinion that one can, indeed, make a joke about anything. Murder, rape, racism, anything can be a target of humor. But that humor speaks to who you are and what you believe. If your joke about rape makes rapists or would be rapists laugh – then you are being oppressive. If your joke tickles the people that work against the rape culture, then your joke is not oppressive. Joke about what you want, I am fine with that. I am also fine with learning about what you believe by the jokes you make and the people you find deserving of that laugh.

I would much rather ignorant bigots speak their mind long and loud so I am never worried that my viewing time, or my money, goes to supporting their hatred in any way. Let them shout all day, so that the rest of us may know them, make up our own minds about them, and be free to speak and act as WE choose, exercising that same freedom.

Note: Tracy Morgan’s wallet contains not one cent of mine. I am not, and have never been, a fan of his.


  1. Very well said. [applause]

  2. Thanks, and thanks for stopping by!

  3. Personally, I have never found Tracy Morgan funny. The man is a buffoon. With that said, the thing that is disturbing me is that he has apologized once. Now he is going to apologize in person. So many people yell "we just want an apology" but that's not it. What they want is a pound of flesh. There is no excuse for what he said and if someone chooses to boycott him, more power to them. But by continuing to voice outrage about it, we are actually giving his words more air time. A better response would be to accept his apology and then quietly make our own decision about whether or not we want to listen to the garbage he spews. I imagine most people won't.

  4. @Lunabug - that response may be appropriate to some, as an isolated event. The larger, louder response is to Morgan as a part of a culture of hatred and violence, and him carrying the torch for that culture.

    I would not touch a pound of Tracy Morgan's flesh, thank you. Or anyone else's, for that matter.

  5. Well maybe Michael Richards and Tracy Morgan can finally do a two-man show together.

  6. @Mykal - Heh! Although I think Richards was on a whole 'nother level of hate.

  7. Well said. I will say this for TM, his apology was decent. It's not often that people who get caught saying hateful shit actually own up to it and admit how fucking wrong it was. His sincerity is questionable, but his words sounded good.


  8. @AHodges - I hope the apology is genuine. Maybe Tina Fey's letter about the people he slandered helped. Maybe someone in his life said, "Hey, you hurt me with that." Maybe he sobered up. I don't know, but I hope it is real.


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