Anderson Cooper and Andrew Sullivan tore into Alec Baldwin’s repeated use of homophobic slurs on the former’s CNN panel Monday night, expressing disgust at the idea that Baldwin could potentially get away with using said slurs because of his liberal politics and an increased societal tolerance for words that defile the gay community.
“This was a textbook case of being homophobic,” Sullivan said of Baldwin’s latest outburst, in which he called a photographer a “c**ksucking f*g.” Sullivan argued that “to actually yell at another human being, to try to put them down in public as a fag” is “the most homophobic thing you can do,” because its purpose was “telling the person they are an inferior human being because they are gay.”
Sullivan made sure to add that he did not believe the language should be punished or banned in any way outside the private sphere–“I’m not a thought police guy”–but expressed outrage at the idea that Baldwin’s self-identifying as a progressive could deter some who would otherwise criticize his speech from doing so. “If a conservative said that,” he noted, “they would be finished.”
Cooper agreed, later adding that the use of a slur against a racial or ethnic group would have been met with even greater instant backlash. “If Alec Baldwin had yelled the n-word at a photographer or a Jewish slur, it’d be over,” he noted, “but the f-word is a word kids are called in school every single day; teachers often don’t do anything about it.”
He also noted as problematic Baldwin’s claim that he did not know he was using homophobic slurs, calling it an outright lie. “If you attain that great age,” he said of the 55-year-old Baldwin, “and you don’t know that calling a guy a ‘toxic little queen’ is an anti-gay reference… that is just a lie.”
The rest of the panel similarly weighed in, with Jeffrey Toobin expressing certain confusion about the political beliefs Baldwin touts alongside his “very obvious hostility to gay people in moments of anger.” Panelist Ana Navarro attributed this seeming oxymoron to “political correctness,” which can be easily turned off in a rage.
“All of this stuff is traced with violence,” Sullivan concluded, highlighting the language’s ability to threaten such violence and not simply mock.
Watch the discussion from last night’s AC 360 Later below: