For the past week, I have been discussing with several of my friends and colleagues the suspension of Roland Martin from CNN following comments he made on Twitter about the David Beckham underwear ad shown during this year’s Super Bowl. Over the years, Roland has been a respected Political Analyst on CNN and among other circles, and has been in the forefront of political commentary during various major election primaries. Roland has become a serious and important BRAND with a global audience, and generated a loyal following by many who perceive him as a legitimate thinker on the science of politics. His political analysis is valued by many and with his ascension to a higher plateau, why would Roland take to his Twitter account to make a senseless and damaging comment about the David Beckham ad?
I’ve been saying for a long time that we seem to be losing our First Amendment right as Americans, as we no longer are able to voice our opinions openly and speak freely without fear of reprimand. We can look at cases such as Tracy Morgan openly joking about stabbing his son if he turned gay, Don Imus joking about nappy headed hoes, referring to the female basketball players at Rutgers University, Michael Richard’s “he’s a nigger” tirade during a comedy performance, and now the Roland Martin anti-gay tweet referring to guys who may be turned on by David Beckham’s underwear advertisement. The fact is despite the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, inappropriate and irresponsible comments, regardless of what nature, will not be tolerated as acceptable forms of expression. What we have to realize with Roland’s comments is that it offended a lot of people, whether gay or not, and his commitment to professionalism was compromised with his poor decision to publish his thoughts on Twitter.
Roland Martin, unlike Don Imus (a radio personality) or Michael Richards (a comedian), is held to a higher level of professionalism and degree of accountability as a respected employee/analyst of CNN. I am not judging Roland, and I am not saying that he is above criticism. However, Roland Martin should have realized that at the moment when he hit “send” to broadcast his comments about Beckham’s underwear, he would have been held accountable for those words, as they reflected a negative provocation of action to incite violence against people who live an alternative (gay) lifestyle. Roland should have realized that personal comments, such as those he made on Twitter, should have been best uttered and kept privately among his close friends and not made viral. Perhaps, this is a lesson from which all of us can learn. We are all human, not perfect. We should not be in the business of judging anyone, unless we take a long and hard look in the mirror first. I am sure Roland Martin regrets what he broadcasted and is searching for the most appropriate time to make his apology. He is now performing damage control to end the crisis and harm he has inflicted on his personal BRAND. Social media communication platforms provide the opportunity for us to connect and express ourselves freely, but let’s learn from this valuable lesson and utilize all media outlets to promote positive and responsible expression. God bless.