Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hate Speech (Spoken or Tweeted) is Racism

 Ames McNamar wearing feminine clothing
He played Roseanne's grandson on the show
I am not sad to see the Roseanne reboot sitcom go down in flames. I do not take pleasure in anyone's public shaming, even by their own doing. ABC knew what they were getting when the revival show was put in place.  Roseanne Barr has made no secret of her outright bigotry and contempt for the LGBT community.  Slayer.com made the following observation last month before Tuesday's big blowup.

Barr’s public disgust at transgender people dates back to a 2001 book in which she describes transgender women as “a huge guy with boobs talking about female hormones and deciding to keep his penis.” In 2012 Barr mocked Green Party candidate Jill Stein for declining to debate her, tweeting, “Jill is also in favor of letting men into spaces where young girls get changed,' and 'Women do not want your penises forced in their faces or in our private bathrooms. Respect that FACT.'

Many people liked the show, including my adult daughter. ABC had attempted to dilute the criticism of the show within the LGBTQ community by the fact that Barr’s TV show grandson, Mark, is depicted as gender nonconforming. And Roseanne's producer Sara Gilbert is a lesbian. Mark wouldn’t be problematic if the show’s star didn’t have a virulently anti-transgender streak. 

Enough said.  ABC did the right thing Tuesday when it canceled Roseanne. The amazing part of the sordid affair is that a corporation put sensibility ahead of profit. 

I grew up in a place and time when white Americans could compare African-Americans to animals with impunity. In fact, racist segregation was the law where I lived. Separate was not equal and discrimination / racism was wrong then and wrong now.

Make no mistake — these types of racist remarks and incidents have been happening for a long time. For one moment let us look at another source of racist hate speech and actions; Trump.  

For instance, while Donald Trump never compared Barack Obama to an animal, he did — as Barr did with Jarrett — suggest Obama might be a terrorist. And Trump, of course, launched his national political career on the wings of the “birther” lie that Obama, the nation’s first black president, was not a "real American". Implied - Only white Americans are real Americans!  

As president, Trump has suggested that Nigerians live in huts while describing Haiti and countries in Africa as “shitholes.” He defended white supremacists who marched with torches and chanted anti-Semitic slogans as “some very fine people.”  He has defended Confederate monuments, pardoned racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and vilified African American NFL players who were peacefully protesting police brutality by saying they “shouldn’t be in the country.”

Hate speech (spoken or Tweeted) by anyone is blatant racism. My hope is that hate speech is now seen for what it is. Thank you, ABC, for standing tall. Maybe this will become a tipping point or a learning experience, as some are calling it. 


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