Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tracy Morgan compares boys with disabilities to chimps. That's funny?

Ever since I read about Tracy Morgan making fun of "retarded kids," I've been seething. Today my friend Theresa emailed me, and I got livid all over again. "I always thought this jerk was overrated. And unfunny," she wrote. "Now I know he's clueless and insensitive."

After making anti-gay remarks a few weeks ago in Nashville (including the gem that being gay is a choice because "God don't make no mistakes"), Morgan was doing a stand-up routine at Caroline's Comedy Club. This time, his sketch involved poking fun at people with disabilities. "Don't ever mess with women who have retarded kids," he said. "Them young retarded males is strong. They're strong like chimps."

Huh?! He thinks that's funny? I know I'm not the most objective source, considering I have a kid with special needs, but that's just an all-out stupid comment. There's no funny in there.

Tina Fey came down on Morgan for his previous display of brilliant wit. "The violent imagery of Tracy's rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT community," she said in a statement to TMZ. I wonder if she will say something about this, too. Perhaps Morgan should consider not talking unless Tina Fey's writing his lines for him.

A few months ago, when I wrote about tweeting at people who used the word "retard" on Twitter, comedian Carolyn Castiglia put up a post about how the word "retarded" is a mainstay of comedy acts. I say there are a whole lot of other words out there to choose from. The word "retarded" is demeaning to those with disabilities, even when it's not used in a directly derogatory way.

If people keep using the word in any context, people will keep thinking it's OK to use—even as an attack on those with disabilities. Worse, they'll think it's FUNNY.

Get a sense of humor, Tracy Morgan. Get a heart. And get a clue.


  1. I agree whole-heartedly. I'm too irritated to form a coherent thought about him and his need to boost himself up by putting others down. You are so right about Tina Fey needing to write his lines - he'd at least be funny then.

  2. I have nothing cogent to say about this. I'm too angry and disappointed with him and every other comedian who thinks it's socially acceptable to slur the most vulnerable segment of our society. And their mothers.


  3. I may stick my foot in my mouth here, but I want to chime in here. Namine isn't mentally handicapped, but she is physically handicapped, and she has on more than one occasion been labeled "retarded" by people who can't be bothered to educate themselves. Ignorance - WILLFUL ignorance - abounds.

  4. Well, you can pretty much figure that he's not one of my favorites. Every time he turns around he's insulting someone in my family.

    If he keeps this up, Tina Fey needs to write him out of the script. He's dragging the rest of them down with his "antics."

    You'd think someone with such dire medical problems--that almost killed him--would have a little empathy.

  5. I can only agree, (although I do not live in the states and do not even own a television and thus am exposed to less of these kinds of phenomenae) that what he said is not only ignorant but quite unfunny.

    One of the roles of comedy though, even when done by hacks, i.e. comedy for the sake of comedy and not to bring across any message, still stirs up the pot so to speak. Comedians attack 'sacred cows' sometimes in order to bring discussion of the issue to the forefront. While I find the humor of someone like Chris Rock, equally distasteful I believe this delving into difficult social issues is his (Rock's) intent.

    I'm not familiar enough with Tracy Morgan to formulate an opinion...perhaps he is just an example of crass, lowly humor pandering to shock value or stardom which has gone to his head, giving him 'crazy Tracy Morgan' leeway (at least in his mind).

    Still, I am thankful that he exposes himself for who he is and that he allows us to focus on what is wrong in society - the attitudes which halt progress, that don't allow our children to be a normal part of modern society.

  6. I find it funny. If you don't, guess what? It's America. Don't listen to it. We are making someone apologize for telling jokes. Who the hell cares if they are offensive or not. Guess what? You have the right to be offended as much as Tracy has the right to say whatever he wants in his comedy act. Do you he is serious that he would kill his son if he is a homosexual? He is a stand up comic. He is not here to make you feel better about life. He is there to make people laugh. You have the right not to like someone because of what they say, but don't hang them out to dry and threaten their career because of it unless they publicly apologize (which is never sincere or real, by the way). This country is turning into a bunch of offended assholes that think they deserve apologies for everything they are offended by. GROW UP.

    1. Dear Anon

      There is NOTHING funny about using the word retarded in the deliberately offensive context. T.Morgan should have known better- shame on him. He is in my opinion, no better then Frankie Boyle. If you dont know who Frankie Boyle is, he is a UK "comedian".

  7. "Just because you have the right to do something....doesn't make it right."

    I agree that we shouldn't 'make' people apologize. I think we shouldn't give money to people if we find their behaviour offensive

    However, the use of 'retard' hurts children and the use of the word by adults encourages other children to continue down a path that continues the words use in a hurtful and incorrect way.

    Language is a man-made tool and we should ALWAYS consider and improve the way we use it. Isn't that the difference between being animals and being human? Our ability to use language and our ability to reflect?

  8. I love 30 Rock but I don't know that I can watch it now. THis is ridiculous. I hope Tina Fey comes out and says something.

  9. This is in response to the comment from Anonymous. If you feel so strongly about the fact that it's ok to put someone down in an attempt to be funny, why don't you sign your name to your statement?

  10. I'm guessing that not as much will be made of this as the gay comments. I hope I'm wrong, though.

    I don't see how it's funny to make fun of people who had no choice about being born with a disability, and often are not able to defend themselves.

    Like someone else said, just because you have the right to do something doesn't make it right.

    I also think there's such a double standard in this country. Tracy Morgan can compare a disabled child to a chimp, but what if someone compared him to a chimp? I don't think that would be seen as funny or acceptable.

  11. Eric, unlike Chris Rock, I don't think his point is to air issues or stir up discussion. This particular comment was just plain useless.

    Not sure what Anon Y Mous's point is. If I have a right to protest, well, I just did. I didn't ask for an apology anywhere. And, wow, flattered to think that I have the power to jeopardize Tracy Morgan's career!

  12. It's interesting that "anonymous" thinks its okay to ridicule a group of people who can't_defend_themselves, yet is so passive-aggressive that he or she is afraid to sign in with their Google account. Well-played, Anonymous!

    Now imagine if a white comedian described Tracy Morgan as being "strong as a chimp" and tell me you'd still find that funny.

  13. Dear Anonymous -

    There is nothing funny about the use of the word "retarded" in any context. It is hurtful, hateful and borders on abusive. When you use the word you are making fun of my disabled child - a child who can not defend himself. Shame on you and shame on Mr. Morgan.

    Everyone has the right to free speech but they, especially people in a position of influence, have a responsibility to use their words in a way that doesn't harm others. Words are powerful and celebrities, by nature of their position, are held accountable and criticized when they are out of line.

    It's a darn shame that Mr. Morgan can't find anything funny to say without resorting to putting others down - especially people with disabilities.

    And for goodness sake, back up your fighting words with a name - and perhaps an argument that makes sense.

  14. So, I get that the word retarded offends people who have people they love and know with special needs. It is your hope that this word will have the same negative conotations as the "n" word, is that right? I think that your motivation is noble and well placed, but even if you change the word people use to describe mentally abnormal people, you don't change the fact that they ARE mentally substandard. I have heard the word "special needs", the phase that seems to be preferred amongst the disabled community, used by school aged children to make fun of each other. I think that instead of using your energies to promote respect and tolerance for all people would be a more fruitful endeavor. Even if you change the words you use to describe them, who and what they are remains unchanged, and it is the WHO and WHAT they are that make them lightening rods for mistreatment. Promote respect. Besides, whenever you tell Americans they can't say something, they get all upset. We do love our right to freedom of speech that enables us to say whatever we want, regardless of how it make others feel. Even if it makes us look like an ass (i.e. Tracey Morgan).

  15. As an African American mother with a child who has a disabilty, I have a different take on this. I'm publishing it in my blog tomorrow and some won't like it, but I don't give a damn.

    When we seize to respect our most helpless and vulnerable in this society, we've lost our humanity...regardless of what the constitution says.

  16. Julia, I had the exact same thought.

    Bravo, Mama, well said!

    Saoirse, you are right: the bottom line here is teaching respect (but not "tolerance" which implies there is something unpleasant to get used to). I've seen the words "special needs" used in a derogatory way as well. If you read this blog, you'll see I do my best to help people understand that kids with special needs are at heart like any other kids—and deserve to be treated as such. But I am also going to speak up when I'm offended. I do not think that my efforts or even all our collective efforts will end the use of the word "retarded" or "retard." But it gets a discussion going, and it raises awareness about not demeaning people with disabilities. So I'm going to keep speaking out. Yes, there is freedom of speech. There is also hate speech that our society (well, most of it) frowns upon. This was hate speech.

  17. My point was that you can spend all of your energy trying to end the use of the word retarded, and repace it with something that doesn't hurt as bad to you, only to see whatever word you wanted to be used instead turn into something negative. I have seen the word special needs turned into a derogatory word used by kids and adults. So what then, Ellen? In twenty years are you going to campaign to end the use of the term "special needs" because now that word is hurtful to your family? Do you see where I am going with this? I suggest you come to terms with the fact that these people will always be targets for others to make fun of, so promote tolerance and respect. Also, on another note, feelings are a choice. We can chose to let others hurt us, make us angry,etc. Or we can prevent them from controlling our emotions.

  18. I certainly haven't made it my life's work to get rid of that word. I write about it on occasion, and especially when someone like Tracy Morgan uses it so offensively.

    Actually, I don't see where you're going with your comments. This blog is a place to air my opinions. My opinion in this recent incident was, it was vile of Tracy Morgan to say what he did. My opinion is that the words "retarded" and "retard" demean kids with disabilities. It is clearly your opinion that it doesn't matter what any of us think about those words...except for you, because you seem to be telling me and other parents who care not to. Like I said above, there are surely other derogatory phrases out there. I cannot stand this one.

    And when you say "these people will always be targets for others to make fun of," by "these people" do you mean people with disabilities? Do you mean my son?! Wow. First, that's rude, dude. Second, do you think I am not already aware of this? And that I needed you to point that out?!

    Obviously, feelings can be choices. Sometimes they're not. I am choosing to find your attempted intellectualization of this issue moot.

  19. I have never found Tracy Morgan to be funny. Comedians of his genre seem to only perpetuate ugly, bad stereotypes: homosexuals,people living with disabilities and even men of color like himself.
    As the mother of a child living with intellectual and developmental disabilities I am offended just as I was offended by his jokes stabbing at the gay community and his lame apology with his saggy pants hanging below his ass.
    Tracy, you are a grown-assed man, stop dressing like a gang-banging thug and be grateful that you are blessed with healthy, "perfect" children whom I pray aren't like you.

  20. I am tired of people in a position of power (in this case someone who is apparently typically abled) telling the minority what they can and can not feel, how they should or should not respond. I can choose to feel offended at the use of the R word, just as I can choose to feel offended when a racial slur is used towards me. My feelings, my sons' feelings, matter. Just because families of special needs are in the minority does not mean that our voice is useless.

  21. People were up in arms when Tracey Morgan made horrible comments about the Gay community. It disgusts me that this "man" can even be aloud to preform at all if he can only make a living putting others down. Why are people willing to pay to see such hatred spewed out of a human being?

  22. Well said, Ellen! I've never thought of you as being focused just on the use of a word. I think we're all aware that if you eliminate one word another one will probably come along to replace it. It IS about promoting respect and understanding. It's so acceptable in this society to make fun of people with disabilities ("those people"). I was driving my teenage daughter and a couple of her friends to the mall today and one of her friends laughed about seeing a short bus...and she was sitting right next to my special needs daughter. I'm sure she didn't even think that her comment might be hurtful...it's just so common for people with disabilities to be laughed at. So yeah, it isn't about changing one word, it's about changing attitudes as well.

  23. Christine - my thoughts exactly. It's about respect and understanding and well, Love.
    Saying something like this, this so-called joke, to simply promote his career is evil and ignorant and thoughtless. The two commenters who try to say you are focussing on the word, rather than the (lack of) sentiment have missed the point completely.

  24. Didn't get a chance to read all the comments so I apologize if someone has said this already. I think this is only funny to people who have absolutely no association to someone who has special needs. And they find it funny because they see these people as so far removed from their life that there is no remorse associated with finding it funny. That's one of the main things I've learned in the 11yrs since having Molly. A lot of people tend to interact with you with an overriding feeling that either a. they are extremely thankful that they are not you, or b. they think that the reason you have a child with special needs is because you did something bad and you are being punished for it. Of course they don't come out and say it to you, but you can tell. It is for this exact same reason that people can find stuff like this funny - because not only has this never happened to them, but they are under the misguided belief that nothing like this would ever happen to them. That this is the kind of thing that only happens to other people. Therefore they able to distance themselves from it. I hope that doesn't sound too bitter or anything LOL - it's just something I've noticed over the years. At first it really bothered me, now it only bothers me a little bit ;-)

  25. This sort of thing can never be acceptable and we must keep speaking up and writing about it until those who use this sort of uneducated speech realise they are wrong and completely out of touch with what is acceptable.

    There are plenty like him, sadly. I suspect he is going for the shock market, thinking he is making himself as name as fearless, outspoke, scandalous. We have similar supposed comedians in the UK. They are beneath contempt but generate a great deal of attention. What a shame they can't do that by actually being amusing.

  26. says to Anonymous...

    It's very apparent that you are not "privileged" to have someone in your life that has an additional need/disability/special need. For if you did your perspective would be very different, you would be a person full of compassion, tolerance and mercy to just name a few character traits.

    Your comments here are made out of ignorance therefore I can't really hold them against you.. only pity you. In response to you hiding behind the name "anonymous" it makes you come across as not really willing to step out and take a stand for what you are writing... maybe because there is a decent human being inside that knows what you are saying is very wrong.. one can only hope that is the case.

    God bless all you parents!

    Love from a nana of a sweet child living with CP and Autism

  27. I have to admit that I had never heard of Tracy Morgan until he made the anti-gay comments. (OK, I know, I must live under a rock.) I see this as a major problem in our society: the general lack of respect which permeates our discourse. Look what passes for humor on TV: sarcasm, cutting remarks, disrespect for elders, etc. The anonymity of the internet has exacerbated the problem. All we can do is try to teach our kids to respect other people, and continue to challenge the offensive remarks.

  28. Yes, Ellen, God forbid we intellectualize this subject. Let's let our emotions rule our actions. Fabulous idea, really. That's always a great way to get things done. In twenty years I'll be rolling my eyes at your efforts to keep us all from saying the words "special needs". It wasn't rude of me to point out that Max is different, you already have told the entire world with this blog. I wasn't pointing out anything you haven't.

  29. I think TM is hilarious on 30 Rock, but he should stay scripted by someone else. He's a funny guy in personality, etc, but his standup is just awful. There's always been a fine line between edgy and offensive, but he didn't just cross it, he demolished it.

  30. If the word retard suddenly disappeared people would just come with another word to replace it.


Thanks for sharing!

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