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Chris Rock Defends Tracy Morgan’s Homophobic Rant, Then Reconsiders; Wanda Sykes Condemns It

At a show in Nashville last week, Tracy Morgan said "being gay is a choice," if his son were gay he would "stab him," and that gay kids who are bullied "should stop whining about it." Morgan apologized for his remarks — "I'm not a hateful person and don't condone any kind of violence against others" — and 30 Rock's Tina Fey and gay NBC head Robert Greenblatt called Morgan's rant "disturbing." Now more celebrities and talking heads are reacting. We've rounded up many of the responses.

Chris Rock initially expressed support for Morgan's remarks: “I dont know about you, but I dont want to live in world where Tracy Morgan cant say foul inappropriate shit," he tweeted. Later, however, Rock changed his tune:


Tracy morgan is a tad off we all know that so when tracy says something i usually don't take it anymore serious than i would a statement from gary busey or flavor flav .when i first heard the statement i thought it was offensive but it also reminded me of my father saying ill kill you if you ever bring home a white girl but after reading everything tracy said . wow i get it that shit wasn't called for and i don't support it at all.

CNN's Roland S. Martin is vehemently defending Morgan's rant. Martin blogged:


Why is comedian and “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan issuing a mea culpa for saying nasty things during a stand-up routine? Isn’t that par for the course of a comedian? ... Whether we want to admit to it or not, it is the DNA of those in the chosen profession of comedy to say stuff that no one could get away with if they weren’t on a stage. Go listen to some of your favorite comedians and tell me if they said racist, sexist, homophobic stuff about any group. I think many of you would be shocked that you laughed hysterically.

Gay blogger John Aravosis responded to Martin:


It's not entirely clear why Martin thinks the masses laughing at the suffering of a minority somehow makes an offensive joke okay. I'm from Chicago. I grew up hearing lots of n-word jokes. I still hear them when I'm back home. And people laughed, and they still laugh. That doesn't change the fact that the jokes were and are racist, and I speak up when people tell them. Outside of the Ku Klux Klan, we don't justify hate based on DNA. And homophobia and racism aren't acceptable simply because some people find them funny.

Comedian Wanda Sykes, a married lesbian with twins, tweeted her responses to Morgan and Martin:


I fault the TN lawmakers. They've created an anti-gay environment. Don't believe Tracy would be so ignorant in LA. I do believe in free speech, but for a youth in TN or any other numerous place, Tracy just yelled, ‘Fire,’ in a crowded theater.

Ro, I love and respect you, so I feel that I can tell you that your column is some bullshit. We can do better. Tracy has the right to say whatever he wants to say, just like we have the right to say, not acceptable. and WE as a country. We used to picnic to watch public hangings, but WE figured out, that was some sick shit.

30 Rock's Cheyenne Jackson, who's gay, spoke out about his co-star's remarks Saturday, saying he's "disgusted":

I am disgusted and appalled by Tracy Morgan's homophobic rant. The devastating repercussions of hate-filled language manifest in very real ways for today's LGBTQ youth. I've known Tracy for two years, spent many long hours with him on set, and I want to believe that this behavior is not at the core of who he is. I'm incredibly disappointed by his actions, and hope that his apology is sincere.

Screenwriter and producer Ron Nyswaner, who's producing the movie Morgan's currently filming, Predisposition, wrote perhaps the most moving response, for HuffPo. Nyswaner says he spent Friday sitting with Morgan while the actor wept about his own demons:

I'm struggling to understand the disparity between Tracy's behavior on our set and the things he said on stage ... Yesterday, on the set of our movie, I sat in a minivan with Tracy Morgan, who wept as he told me about his violent childhood. I cannot understand the brutality of dire poverty or the soul-killing experience of growing up black in racist America. And Tracy cannot understand the pain of a gay child raised in homophobic America, under the constant barrage of taunts, threats of violence, and the ever-present fear of being exposed and rejected. Neither of us reached adulthood unscathed by the shared prejudices of our culture. We've arrived at manhood slightly distorted, wounded and limited by our battles. Yesterday, while the world Tweeted away, issuing accusations and condemnations, a black, straight comic and a white, gay writer sat in a minivan, crying and trying to understand.

Photo: John Sciulli/Getty Images