The Other F WordBy now you have probably heard about the ongoing feud between Grey's Anatomy stars TR Knight and Isaiah Washington. (GA cast pictured above) Sadly the mainstream media hasn't reported much about it. I've only really seen it reported on those crappy tabloid magazine shows and in the blogosphere. So if you're not into Access Hollywood or a big blog reader, here's a quick update:
Back in October a scuffle on the set erupted between co-stars Patrick Dempsey (McDreamy) and Isaiah Washington. I think it had something to do with tardiness on the set. The altercation escalated to a point where Washington had his hands around Dempsey's throat yelling "I'm not your little f*gg*t like _____." Much speculation about who the "little f*gg*t" was ensued in the tabloid media, the most mainstream of the reports appearing in the New York Post, I believe. The use of the gay epithet was secondary in most stories. This prompted T.R. Knight, who many had named as the "little f*gg*t" in question, to give a report to People Magazine in which he came out as gay. End of story--until Monday nights Golden Globe Awards.
On the red carpet before the event, Isaiah Washington made some bizarre unsolicited "pro-gay" remarks. No one is quite sure why. After Grey's Anatomy won best dramatic series, in the pressroom the subject came up again prompting Washington to take the mic away from the spokesperson, show creator Shondra Rhimes, and blurt out "I did not call T.R. Knight a f*gg*t." Again using the F word. T.R. Knight has since appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show stating that once again Washington is lying and the F word was in fact used. Other cast members have said as much in interviews, too.
To me, Washington should have been fired for the physical violence toward Dempsey, alone. (Dempsey, ever macho, did not want to press the violence issue though.) But add to that the use of the F word and you have one pretty hostile work environment. Again--grounds for immediate dismissal in my opinion. The last company I worked for had that policy, why doesn't ABC?
The great irony in this story is that this ugly epithet came from an African American man--someone who should surely know how damaging this kind of hate speech can be. Yet NO one I've seen reporting the story has gone near that issue yet, except for blogger AfterElton. In his article he compares the F word to the N word and states that if the situation were reversed the response not only from the network, but the entire mainstream media would have been quite different. Why this double standard?
In any fight for civil rights recurring issues and arguments come up. Many of the same arguments used during the black civil rights movement are now being used in the gay civil rights movement. Yet many in the black community resent the similarity. The argument is that one cannot hide skin color the way one can hide sexuality and certainly the forms of discrimination toward both groups manifest themselves in different ways. While that much is true--let's be real. Much of this resentment is based on homophobia.
But if you believe as I do, that skin pigmentation, like sexuality, is based on one's genetic make-up and that one genetic make up is no better or worse than any other and therefore should not be discriminated against, how can you NOT use the same arguments? The problem is that while there is some scientific evidence to support a genetic link to sexuality, we have yet to find that "smoking gun." And even when we do, it will be under reported. And those who just don't want to believe it won't and they will defend their constitutional right to their ignorance to the enth degree--like evolution. But I digress.
The long and the short of it is that ABC should take swift action to fire Washington as soon as possible. Every day ABC allows Washington to continue his contract they appear complicit with his remarks. Why are they okay with that?
Update: ABC is preparing to release a statement saying they are "dismayed" by Washington's behavior and that the situation is "being addressed."