With Alec Baldwin calling them out directly post-MSNBC fiasco, GLAAD lamented that the actor had not been open to turning the event into an “opportunity for public education.” Why reach out so warmly to Baldwin, and why does GLAAD’s condemnation come so much swiftly for conservatives?
Baldwin lashed out at the LGBT advocacy group yesterday, calling the cancellation of his show one of GLAAD’s “greatest triumphs.” GLAAD Vice President of Communications Rich Ferraro, who Baldwin also called out by name, politely disagreed, responding in a statement that the loss of Baldwin’s show is a “win” if it enlightens someone not to use hateful language. He further added, “Alec Baldwin’s team has not been open to turning this incident into an opportunity for public education and that’s unfortunate.”
GLAAD’s open admission that Baldwin’s behavior in this incident is “unfortunate” is right on the mark, but comparatively tame when viewed beside the aggressive campaigns to take conservative voices off the air and out of the public eye that could be perceived or were openly anti-LGBT. And the delicacy with which the Baldwin incident has been treated makes it difficult to ignore such a double standard in reactions.
That is not to say that the work GLAAD sets out to do–to raise awareness and enlighten Americans about the issues LGBT people face at home, work, and in life–is not noble. Tolerance of LGBT individuals and celebration of diversity generally is a cornerstone of the philosophy that makes this country great, and GLAAD’s work over the decades merits praise when done right. But condemning and blacklisting some while politely trying to arrange panel discussions with others because of their political stripe hurts the greater cause when all these targets are behaving equally offensively. This inconsistency implies that discrimination is sometimes okay if you’re on the right–that is, the left–side of the political spectrum; GLAAD’s proposed mission is to teach that no one gets a pass on spewing hate.
And GLAAD has marred itself with a history of double standards. Take, for example the cases of Tracy Morgan and Brett Ratner, whose use of anti-LGBT invective landed them doing penance sessions with the organization in which they talked through why they were wrong. One assumes that the “opportunity for public education” Ferraro speaks of with Baldwin was such an event–a chance that liberals in Hollywood get to fall back in line. In contrast, Kirk Cameron–who did not use the slur attributed to Baldwin or threaten violence as Morgan did– earned him a tag-full of attack articles from the advocacy group.
And then there is the case of an icon loved by conservatives who neither used slurs nor called for violence, nor spoke of LGBT individuals at all and somehow managed to get on GLAAD’s bad side. Tim Tebow did not attend the kind of “teachable moment” events Morgan and Ratner did. Instead, the football star received public reprimand for visiting Liberty University and saying nothing about LGBT issues. Tebow–who had not only said nothing offensive to LGBT individuals, but canceled an appearance at Pastor Warren Jeffress’s church because of his LGBT bigotry (among other flavors of bigotry)–was, according to GLAAD, “lending his name and credibility to an anti-gay cause.”
Even the man who signed DOMA into law got an award from the organization. These inconsistencies make it increasingly difficult to support the organization no matter how much one agrees with the premise that America’s spiritual health and economic prosperity require a society where people are not judged for their immutable traits but appreciated for their personal qualities.
The Baldwin incident provides yet another opportunity to reform GLAAD’s approach to public figures spreading hate and apply consistent pressure to anti-LGBT individuals regardless of ideology.