Tracy Morgan has come under heavy fire for his anti-gay rant in Nashville this week, but when it comes to assigning blame, comedian Wanda Sykes thinks someone else deserves it just as much as Tracy.
Taking to Twitter, Sykes said of Morgan's rant:
Had time to think. Tracy is just a dumb comic. I fault the TN lawmakers. They've created an anti-gay environment. Don't believe Tracy would be so ignorant in LA, because we have a mayor, a city council, and police chief who believes we are all equal. I do believe in free speech, but for a youth in TN or any other numerous place, Tracy just yelled, "Fire," in a crowded theater.
Sykes is 100% correct in calling out the Tennessee government, though it's unclear whether her logic necessarily follows. But Tennessee is guilty of creating a climate where bigotry thrives.
Two bills have been considered this spring that seal Tennessee's virulently anti-gay reputation. The first, which has been passed, prohibits Tennessee cities from passing any sort of anti-discrimination legislation which protects the LGBT community. The bill makes it tacitly acceptable for companies in the state to discriminate against gay and lesbian employees.
The second bill, which has passed the Tennessee State Senate but has yet to be signed into law (though it surely will be), has been nicknamed the "Don't Say Gay" bill. It makes it a crime for teachers to discuss any aspect of non-heteronormative sexuality with their students, even (and especially) in cases where a gay student comes to a teacher to report being bullied.
These bills send the message to Tennesseeans that discrimination against and bullying of homosexuals is to be tolerated and even encouraged. Not that some people in the state need any encouragement to begin with. As Wanda Sykes pointed out, Tracy Morgan seemed to feel that Tennessee was a place that would accept his anti-gay tirade. Would Morgan have gone on such a rant in a liberal, equality-embracing city like Los Angeles or New York City?
Reports from people who were in the audience at Tracy Morgan's show in Nashville report that his hateful comments about gays and lesbians were greeted with cheers and applause.
This all begs the question: Is the Tennessee legislature passing hateful and bigoted laws because some Tennesseeans are hateful and bigoted, or are some Tennesseeans hateful and bigoted because lawmakers are essentially giving them permission to be so?
And would Tracy Morgan have said what he said if he didn't think the audience felt the same way?