Most Super Bowl controversies actually happen at the game, but when journalist and pundit Roland Martin tweeted his reaction to an underwear commercial featuring David Beckham wearing only a pair of briefs, his jokes incited the ire of gay rights advocates who say Martin should be fired from his post at CNN because his game-time tweets are just the tip of the iceberg.
Sunday, following the airing of H&M’s Super Bowl commercial featuring soccer star David Beckham, Martin tweeted, “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!#superbowl.”
The tweet started a volley of commentary between Martin, rights group GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and others who found the comment offensive. Martin replied to GLAAD and others via Twitter stating that he was only making fun of soccer fans, not homosexuals, calling those that accused him of homophobia “ignorant.”
“@briansmith31681 @onmysoapboxx You chose to call me homophobic when I'm cracking on Beckham because of soccer. Yes, ignorant!” he tweeted.
Then, later in the evening, Martin posted, “Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdata--.”
Martin’s Twitter clarification did not satisfy the likes of GLAAD, however, who began an online petition in favor of Martin’s dismissal from CNN where he appears on-air as a regular political commentator. GLAAD alleges that Martin’s tweets are simply part of a larger pattern of homophobia.
The National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s largest Black LGBT civil rights organization, is also standing with GLAAD on the issue and spoke out against Martin’s comments.
“Even if he meant it in a jovial manner, Roland Martin’s words carry a real impact on the everyday lives of Black LGBT people, especially our youth,” said Sharon Lettman, executive director of the NBJC according to GLAAD. “Given the number of rash murders, attacks and violent acts involving LGBT people of color, we cannot let statements such as this go unchecked. Silence is a form of acceptance and only perpetuates the problem.”
Martin issued a more formal apology on his website Monday, again reiterating that it was not his intention to offend.
“I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise,” Martin wrote.
“It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, anytime soccer comes up during football season it’s another chance for me to take a playful shot at soccer, nothing more.”
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