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A Shining Knight, a Dark Prince, and the F word

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Buzz Publications
January 17, 2007


I'm one of those people who believe the word faggot is always evidence of homophobia. I am also one of those people who believe there are varying degrees of homophobe polluting the public consciousness. Including the self-loathing, bitter camp, faith-based simpletons, mean-spirited and homicidal bullies, hate reveals itself in many ways.

No matter how you say it, or where it comes from, faggot is an ugly word that demeans everybody.

Prompting me to comment on this distasteful issue, is the drama festering behind the scenes of the fictional drama, Grey's Anatomy, where real world hate has taken center stage. And a tirade heard around the world has now overshadowed a very talented cast.

Which is probably a good thing, considering the reality check provided by an African American actor with an anger management problem directing venomous hate speech at a member of another minority targeted for discrimination and oppression.

The ugliness began in October during production of a male bonding camping scene, when Isaiah Washington started arguing on the set with co-star Patrick Dempsey. At one point Washington, lunged at Dempsey grabbed him by the throat after defending another actor. During the scuffle Washington shouted, within hearing distance of cast and crew, "I'm not your little faggot like T.R."

Knight, the target of the homophobic slur, although not the target of the misplaced anger, was standing nearby confirmed the insult, as have other cast members.

Once word hit the Hollywood press, any hope of keeping the incident contained to cast and crew, became impossible. It's likely more than one gay man or woman saw the altercation between Mr. Washington and Patrick Dempsey, and homophobic action does not go over well.

To paraphrase a slogan from WWII, "Loose lips sink careers."

Taking the high road with a nobility rarely seen in the entertainment business, with class and composure, T.R. Knight decided to confirm his homosexuality, as a way of squelching rumor and speculation about his sexuality.

In a statement to People magazine Knight said, "I guess there have been a few questions about my sexuality, and I'd like to quiet any unnecessary rumors that may be out there....While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I'm gay isn't the most interesting part of me."

Now that's class.

After a the initial controversy it seemed as if Mr. Washington was sufficiently chastised and lessons were learned. That was of course until the night of the Golden Globes when Mr. Washington's demons decided to take their turn at the microphone. In front of the world press, the actor lied to all gathered, denying the earlier hate slur with the statement "I did not call T.R. Knight a faggot. Never happened."

Once again controversy erupted. The tabloids had a field day, major news outlets got in the act, and the world was talking about a an African American using hate speech on Martin Luther Kings birthday. And ABC, was talking about replacing Mr. Washington on Grey's Anatomy, going so far as considering possible replacements. Having fired his publicist, as if that could staunch the bleeding out of future possibilities in the entertainment industry.

In keeping with the hollow gesture of stars gone bad, Washington has checked himself into a residential treatment facility to undergo psychological evaluation for his behavioral issues. Funny, I didn't know there was a rehab center for homophobes. Before entering the facility Mr. Washington made a public statement:

"With the support of my family and friends, I have begun counseling. I regard this as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again. I appreciate the fact that I have been given this opportunity and I remain committed to transforming my negative actions into positive results, personally and professionally."

Isn't that the same thing Mel Gibson and Michael Richards said?

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