Posted by: Catherine Lugg | June 11, 2011

Tracy Morgan’s pathology

Stand up comic and 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan went on a homophobic tear last weekend during a show in Nashville. At one point he stated,  “if his son was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man…or he would pull out a knife and stab that little [n—–] to death.”

Now, here’s the context in which Morgan made his remarks. For decades, queer kids have been killing themselves in response to the lethal homophobia they encounter at home, at school, in their places of worship, and in their neighborhoods. Furthermore, queer children whose parents bully and demean them are at 8 times the risk of suicide than other children. And finally, the city of Nashville is a horrendous place to be young and queer. In this context, Morgan’s words are akin to pouring gasoline upon a raging homophobic, and quite often, lethal inferno.

In light of the uproar over his rant, Morgan issue a statement that was not an apology.

I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others…. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context.

“My choice of words???” No Mr. Morgan, you are advocating violence against queer people, and young queer people of color in particular. Removing the “n” from your rant would not make it less lethal. In a public forum, you stated that you would HATE a hypothetical gay son more than you would LOVE him–Not only that, but you would HATE him to the point of MURDERING  him. Consequently, you have endorsed a form of  “honor killing” to protect your own fragile sense of masculinity. Queer identity so threatens you, queer identity so FRIGHTENS you, that you would EXTERMINATE your very own son for it. You sir, are a raging bigot and a coward–you’d much rather kill than love and understand. You are a walking definition of pathology.

While Mr. Morgan might have a first amendment right to say these hateful words,* he doesn’t have to be paid for them. I would hope the producers of 30 Rock take a hard look at Mr. Morgan’s speech and subsequent actions, and the act accordingly. Mr. Morgan should not be JAILED for his speech (which the first amendment protects him from, anyway), but I do think there should be economic consequences for his speech (something the first amendment does NOT protect against). We queer people were not put on this earth for Morgan to project his hatreds upon for his own wallet. We’re not anyone’s punching bags, and no comedian, politician, or religious figure should be making money by promoting hatred.

*A lot of bigotry gets dressed up as supposed “humor,” hence Morgan’s lame claim of being “an equal opportunity jokester.” But I seriously doubt he would call for the murder of Jews, Catholics, or Italians for laughs, since it would be career suicide. So, he’s not an “Equal opportunity jokester” but something far more sinister.

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Responses

  1. Tina Fey’s response was more thoughtful:

    Wrote Fey: “I’m glad to hear that Tracy apologized for his comments. Stand-up comics may have the right to ‘work out’ their material in its ugliest and rawest form in front of an audience, but the violent imagery of Tracy’s rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT Community. It also doesn’t line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person.

    Fey continued: “I hope for his sake that Tracy’s apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian coworkers at 30 Rock, without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket. The other producers and I pride ourselves on 30 Rock being a diverse, safe, and fair workplace.”

  2. Still, it’s awfully flippant. I get that they are comics, but why does there have to be a little “joke” thrown into the “apologies”?

    • Jeff: I actually read Fey’s response somewhat differently. It’s a clear warning: Knock it off or else. Yes, the second paragraph seems a bit “flip,” but when a producer starts talking about “a printed-out paycheck from accounting” that’s a clear warning.

      I suspect the producers are now very worried about the work environment for the show. Since Fey mentioned “gay and lesbian coworkers” I would bet the producers have gotten an earful from the cast and staff about Morgan. Unlike the show with Charlie Sheen, this show runs on “ensemble.” If someone on the team is destructive to the team effort….well. it’s show biz, folks are frequently replaced if things “aren’t working.”

  3. […] like throwing up when I try to track and write about this story.  Please go read Cath Lugg at Thinking Queerly’s post on the brutal violent and murderous context for Morgan’s […]


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