Tracy Morgan was forced to apologize for portions of his stand up
routine delivered at a comedy show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on
June 3, 2011.
Although there was no transcript, audience member Kevin
Rogers posted a Facebook critique describing the routine:
"He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to
him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he
would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use)
to death...(Tracy Morgan) informed us that the gays needed to quit being
pussies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying.
He mentioned that gay was something kids learn from the media and
programming, and that bullied kids should just bust some ass and beat
those other little f*ckers that bully them, not whine about it... Tracy
then said he didn't f*cking care if he pissed off some gays, because if
they can take a f*cking d*ck up their *ss... they can take a f*cking
Fred Sainz, Vice President (Communications) of The Human Rights Campaign
"Hateful remarks that mock youth suicides and the very real
emotional and sometimes physical bullying LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Transgender) kids face on a daily basis have no place in a comedy
routine. I'm shocked that Tracy Morgan would find humor in so viciously
attacking our youth. If these allegations are true, Tracy Morgan must
immediately accept responsibility and apologize. His employer, NBC
Universal, also must come forward and condemn these atrocious comments."
The Tracy Morgan Apology
Tracy Morgan apologized in a written statement:
"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."
Later in a press conference organized by Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLADD), Tracy Morgan issued another apology:
"I don't have a hateful bone in my body. I don't believe that
people should be bullied or just made to feel bad about who they are. I
totally feel that in my heart. I really don't care who you love,
same-sex or not, as long as have the ability to love. That's the
important thing here. So, now at this point in my life is an opportunity
to make a difference. I don't really see gay or straight, I just see
human beings now. I pride myself on 20 years, 18 years of standup, using
it to heal people and not hurt. That was my whole thing and I hurt
people with this. So, from the bottom of my heart, I apologize to
everybody who I offended with my words on stage in Nashville and
anywhere else. I just apologize to you To err is human, but to forgive
is divine. These young people here forgave me I just want to take this
opportunity to help and not hurt."
Tracy Morgan Apology Evaluation
Fred Sainz (HRC) believes Tracy Morgan
"needs to go further than his
apology and correct the record: no one should feel ashamed because they are
lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and they should definitely not become
a victim of violence. Words have consequences and Tracy Morgan should be
held to a higher standard. Until he does something meaningful, his brand
will remain tarnished."
Jody Huckaby (Executive Director of Parents, Families and Friends of
Lesbians and Gays) issued a similar statement following Morgan's apology:
"At a time when bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender youth is at an all-time high when kids are being assaulted,
are dying to joke about committing violence against a child is outrageous
and reprehensible. As a celebrity, Mr. Tracy Morgan needs to understand that
his words have power; inciting violence against gay and lesbian kids in the
name of comedy stating that he would stab his own son to death if he was
gay is absolutely unconscionable. A simple apology is not enough Mr.
Morgan must take meaningful action to prove the sincerity of that apology."
Tracy Morgan Apology Rating
In light of the statements by leaders of organizations who clearly
understand the impact of homophobic laced hate speech, it is clear that
Tracy Morgan needs to do more than a simple apology and press conference.
It is unclear at this point whether this important element of the perfect
apology has been satisfied, and only time will tell whether Morgan will
retain what has always been a major part of his standup routine. Until he
does, or clearly conveys a commitment to be a little more proactive in
fighting for these causes, the overall rating is tentative.