Tracy Morgan was forced to apologize for portions of his stand up routine delivered at a comedy show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium in 2011.
Although there was no transcript, audience member Kevin Rogers posted a Facebook critique describing the routine:
He said if his son 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 joke.
Fred Sainz, Vice President (Communications) of The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) stated:
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
He 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.Tracy Morgan
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 you 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
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 and 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 stand-up 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.