CNN contributor Roland S. Martin, who was accused of bullying and encouraging violence against the LGBT community after tweeting on Sunday that any man at a Super Bowl party who’s psyched for David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad should be smacked, posted his final thoughts on the controversy to his website last night. “That is furthest from the truth, and I sincerely regret any offense my words have caused,” he wrote. “I have consistently said on television, radio, and in print, that I am steadfast against bullying. As I wrote on CNN.com, as well as said on the nationally-syndicated Dr. Phil Show, I believe parents and schools need to take an active role in ending this epidemic that afflicts kids nationwide, gay or not.” [UPDATED 2/8/12, 3:10 ET: Martin was suspended by CNN, who released a statement reading, “Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.” It is not clear how long Martin’s suspension will last.]
He maintained this his tweets were directed at soccer fans and not related to anyone’s sexuality. “To those who construed my comment as being anti-gay or homophobic or advancing violence, I’m truly sorry. I can certainly understand how someone could come to a different conclusion than the one I meant,” he said. “I’m disheartened that my words would embolden prejudice. While public debate over social issues is healthy, no matter which side someone takes, there is no room for debate as to whether we need to be respectful of others.”
GLAAD issued a lengthy response this afternoon: “At a time when anti-gay violence is something suffered by LGBT people and those perceived as LGBT people in this country every day, prominent figures like Martin should condemn, not promote, such violence. Yesterday afternoon a video of a young man being brutally assaulted after exiting a grocery store was posted on LGBT news sites. As they beat and kicked the man, his attackers screamed “Fa**ot” and other anti-gay slurs. Watch the video. This is what ‘smacking the ish’ out of someone for being gay can look like. Speaking out against anti-LGBT violence on his site is a start, but Martin should use his other platforms to fight against the very things he says he himself experienced. Media and those in it are very powerful forces in this country. GLAAD takes that very seriously and we hope that Roland Martin will in the future do so as well, whether it’s on CNN or in another outlet,” it begins. It ends with GLAAD calling on him to meet with its advocates and our partners to discuss how they can work together to address anti-LGBT violence.