30 Rock star Tracy Morgan found himself in the center of a heated debate after he went on an anti-gay rant during a show in Tennessee earlier this month. Reportedly, Morgan said he’d stab his son if he were gay. Homosexuality, he went on, was a choice because “God don’t make no mistakes.” Eye witnesses said his jokes were met by cheers from the audience.
Many comics rely on cruelty. Joan Rivers has made a career at poking fun at celebrities. She tormented Elizabeth Taylor for years, insulting her weight. During an interview, she was asked if there were any topics that were off limits. She replied no, but then added that when Elizabeth Taylor was admitted to the hospital, she stopped making jokes about her until she was better. Her rule was that she didn’t kick people when they’re down.
Recently Chelsea Handler went on a tirade about Angelina Jolie, calling her a “cunt.” When asked by Joy Behar if she thought she had gone too far, Handler responded that she was not going to apologize because then she would have to apologize to everyone she’d ever made fun of.
Tracy Morgan spent much of last week on the remorse circuit after his anti-gay rant. He was sorry, he told anyone who’d listen. He meant no harm. Later that week, Morgan met with New York youths who have been shunned by their families because of their sexuality. Joan Rivers later commented that Morgan should not have apologized.
In light of the recent number of LGBTQ suicides, is it the right time for any comedian to jokingly say they would stab their child if they were gay? Tracy Morgan should have apologized. Why doesn’t Joan Rivers own rule of thumb apply in this instance as well. As far as I’m concerned comedians can provoke, insult and joke about each other all they want, but from some accounts it seemed Morgan’s rant went too far. It touched a nerve among anti-gay supporters who probably feel that gay marriage should never be allowed or that homosexuality is a choice. When Morgan offered his violent solution to dealing with one of his own children if they said they were gay, he was inciting hate and perpetuating violence among the LGBTQ community. Imagine the outrage if Jeff Foxworthy said at his next Redneck Roundup that if his daughter brought home a black man he’d shoot her in the head?
I will say that Morgan was smart to apologize immediately however, Tina Fey’s response that he is not a hateful person and is much too sleepy, is a lame excuse for his behavior. What really bothers me is Joan Rivers, who after watching her documentary clearly feels that no topic is sacred, but that is not true. Good comics provoke thought and make us laugh at ourselves, and yes, mean comedy can be funny when it’s pointed at ridiculous social norms or holds a mirror up to the way we live.
In late 2010, Tracy Morgan underwent a kidney transplant for chronic renal failure secondary to diabetes. You’d think he’d have a new outlook on life now that he’s been given a second chance. So stop the hate Tracy, it’s bad for your health, and you’re already working on borrowed time. Pay more attention to your sugar and less about your child’s sexuality.