Commentators Keith Boykin and Roland Martin exchanged heated tweets Friday night about a column Martin wrote that defended the homophobic rant of comedian Tracy Morgan.
In his column, Martin addressed the uproar over comments Morgan made in a stand-up routine last week in Nashville. The comedian and 30 Rock star suggested at one point that he would kill his son if he ever said he was gay.
Although Martin said he "naturally cringed" when he saw the story, it's what he expects from comedians.
"Who in their right mind would say such a thing about his gay son? No person in his or her right mind! Except for a comedian who is accustomed to saying shocking things on stage to get a laugh," he wrote.
Martin suggested the homophobic remarks are little different from the statements of other comedians, including Chris Rock and the late George Carlin, who have said offensive things that more people than are willing to admit find funny.
"There isn't enough space on the Internet to chronicle the number of times a comedian has said nasty and vile things," wrote Martin. "Some of it leading the audience to fall out laughing or sometimes, or as in the case of Morgan, walk out in protest. If we are to demand an apology for every time a comedian is sexist against men or women, racist or homophobic, we might as well launch a website called www.comediansapologizedaily.com."
Boykin saw things differently, however, where among many other replies he tweeted, "And the issue is not just making an inappropriate joke. It's making an all-out attack on a group of people."
Martin shot back, "so I'm wrong in that comedians don't routinely make crude, vile and offensive remarks in their stand up work?"
In his column, Martin seemed to suggest that homophobic attacks of the sort Morgan made have an audience.
"Maybe none of us want to accept that as a comedian, Morgan is keenly aware of what society actually thinks, and he simply said it onstage," wrote Martin. "Isn't that what comedians have always done? Reflect what society actually thinks, but say it in a forum where we can laugh through our pain."
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