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I know a lot of people are going to hate me for saying this, but would everybody please relax about Tracy Morgan's homophobic onstage rant? Yes, I realize the man said during his stand-up routine that he would stab his son to death if he came home and said he was gay, and yes, that's an outrageous thing to say. But, hello, everything that comes out of the mouth of Tracy Morgan is outrageous! Morgan's entire approach to comedy is based on the concept that nothing is sacred.
Anybody claiming to be a fan of Morgan's knows this to be true. So why have people suddenly decided that this time he's crossed the line? What line? If there was a line, he crossed it years ago.
Now Morgan has issued an apology to his fans and the gay and lesbian community for his "choice of words." No doubt NBC was pressuring their 30 Rock star to make amends, but I'm still disappointed that Morgan had to say he was sorry. The way I look at it, if you're going to skewer every single race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation on the planet, no one group gets to take offense. Morgan makes derogatory comments about women all the time. Does it bother me? No, because he says equally insulting things about his own demographic. Morgan is an equal-opportunity trash-talker, this is no secret.
So I think it says more about the prejudice of people who get laugh hysterically at one of Morgan's jokes but get pissed off about another than it does about any bias Morgan himself may or may not have. Hey, you were just cracking up at that joke about welfare mothers ... so it's okay to dump on one type of person but not another? Nope, sorry. If you're signing up as a Morgan fan, you've got to check those politically correct tendencies at the door.
I would also go so far as to argue that it's the responsibility of comedians to challenge our current "you can't say that!" culture by pushing every button they can reach. In fact, comedians have long been cast as the soothsayers of our society, the people who can be counted on to speak their minds without bowing down to censorship. I can't even think of a truly significant comedian from the past several decades who didn't rattle a few cages at some point or another: George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Andrew Dice Clay, Eddie Murphy, Sarah Silverman, Margaret Cho. As long as we can laugh at ourselves, as these comedians did and do, laughing at everybody else is fair play ... getting other people to laugh at themselves is nothing short of a miracle.
Do you think Tracy Morgan crossed the line?
Image via Alex Erde/Flickr