UPDATE: Roland issues a mea culpa (of sorts)
Roland Martin posted a new statement late last night in response to criticism by GLAAD and media pundits about his allegedly homophobic comments and his blustering statement defending himself.
"I have been accused by members of the LGBT community of being supportive of violence against gays and lesbians and bullying," writes Martin.
"That is furthest from the truth, and I sincerely regret any offense my words have caused.
Adds Martin, "I'm disheartened that my words would embolden prejudice. ... While public debate over social issues is healthy, no matter which side someone takes, there is no room for debate as to whether we need to be respectful of others."
GLAAD has posted quotes from Martin's statement on its rolandmartin webpage, including the paragraph above.
"Violence against gay people or against any other minority isn't a political opinion," GLAAD writes in response. "At a time when anti-gay violence afflicts countless LGBT and LGBT-perceived people in this country every day, prominent figures like Martin should condemn, not promote, such violence."
The org asks Martin "to put actions behind his words. GLAAD calls on him to meet with us and our partners to discuss how we can work together to address the staggering rates of anti-LGBT violence that continues to face our community today."
But GLAAD also asks CNN to take action in light of the controversy. First, it calls for the cable news network to break its silence and issue a comment. The GLAAD text also seems to imply that CNN ought consider whether Martin has a future with them.
So, do they want CNN to fire Martin? Asked to clarify, GLAAD sent this statement by email:
"In the end this isn't a tit for tat. If Roland Martin truly wants to work with the LGBT community to fight violence we more than welcome him. But we also believe that commentators on CNN and elsewhere have a responsibility to their positions. Every 15 year old in this country knows what "whip" the ass of the guy in the "pink suit" is code for. CNN is a fantastic journalistic organization. The notion that they don't know what that means, or at the very least how that is received by people, is ludicrous. The question is whether or not they are willing to tolerate it."
Expect more fallout from the tempestuous Twitter battle that raged on all day Sunday between CNN's Roland Martin and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) over two vaguely Super Bowl-related off-color remarks Martin made about David Beckham’s manly bearing and about the question of whether men should wear pink -- which some have protested are cases of gay-bashing.
Martin, 43, mocked a an H&M ad which features soccer god Beckham in his underwear. (Here is the video ad.)
“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!” Martin (@rolandsmartin) tweeted.
(What is an ish? And can it really be spanked out of someone?)
Martin, a syndicated columnist,TV One and CNN commentator and author, whose books include Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America, quickly was hit with this tweet from GLAAD: “@rolandsmartin Advocates of gay bashing have no place at @CNN#SuperBowl#LGBT
Martin wasn’t going to let it go at that and sent this missive in turn. “"@glaad @CNN well you’re clearly out of touch and clueless with what I tweeted. Way to assume, but you're way off base.”
GLAAD has reproduced the entire exchange on a special “rolandmartin” page on its site.
Shortly after Martin’s last riposte, GLAAD told its followers that earlier Sunday Martin had made another Twitter comment GLAAD charged also is homophobic.
“Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass,” Martin had tweeted.
In a statement on his blog, Martin says, “I made several cracks about soccer as I do all the time. I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise.”
Martin adds, “It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, anytime soccer comes up during football season it’s another chance for me to take a playful shot at soccer, nothing more.”
In a statement about Martin's statement, GLAAD asserted that Martin has a history of making anti-gay comments.
“Roland Martin has never compared being a soccer fan to being an alcoholic, the way he has compared being gay to being an alcoholic,” reads the statement.
“Roland Martin has never bragged that his wife has led men and women away from the “soccer lifestyle,” the way he claims she has with gay people. Roland Martin has never defended jokes about parents stabbing soccer-playing children, the way he defended jokes about parents stabbing gay children.”
Adds the statement, “Based on this history, this doesn’t seem like a playful jab at what Martin considers an inferior sport. It seems like a jab at what Martin considers an inferior community of people.”
GLAAD has posted a petition calling for viewers to urge CNN to fire the syndicated columnist and author. (As of noon, it had 2,371 signatures.)
CNN has yet to comment.
Note on Photos (from top of item): Roland Martin; David Beckham; a fashion shoot photo from a Refinery29.com report about the prevalence of pink in men's designer duds in the Spring 2009 collection.