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I have been disturbed this past week by the number of people defending Tracy Morgan's comments in his stand-up performance (Nashville, Tennessee, June 3), including Roland Martin, of CNN.

I don't see a post here for a discussion, so I wanted to start one with an article I wrote on the subject. I'm really curious to know where others draw the line with what constitutes hate speech and what is just the nature of "comedy". Should he have the right to say what he did and what should be the repercussions? (some have been calling for him to be removed from 30 ROCK.)


by Max Gordon

This article is dedicated to my sister, who I watched get beaten with a belt for not finishing a plate of food when I was four and she was two.

I don’t want to talk about Tracy Morgan. I’ve found him funny sometimes, but I haven’t paid much attention to his career, and I don’t watch his show. But I have to write about him, because he’s in the news for saying in his stand-up routine that if his son came home “acting” gay, he would “stab that little nig**r to death.”

In this media-driven world we live in, we say things we shouldn’t, we get into trouble, we send apologies that don’t sound anything like us through hired publicists and lawyers, and hope the trouble goes away - or that someone else says or does something they shouldn’t and everyone will forget what we did. (Anthony Weiner should send Tracy Morgan flowers.)

If the trouble is deep enough, a career may end. Or if we refuse to go away, immune to universal contempt (Elliot Spitzer), or make someone enough money, all may be forgiven. So by the time you finish this article, or perhaps when you start it, Tracy Morgan’s words will probably be old news.

But what happened on that stage in Nashville on June 3 is bigger than Tracy Morgan.

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