Fox News’ John Gibson caused quite a stir last week when he made light of Heath Ledger’s death. In case you don’t recall, the journalist used Ledger’s role in Brokeback Mountain to poke fun at the Australian actor.
Referencing Ledger’s iconic line, “I knew how to quit you,” Gibson chuckled of “weirdo” Ledger’s passing, “Well, he knew how to quit you.” GLAAD and the gays were outraged. And rightfully so. Not only were Gibson’s comments tacky beyond all belief, but they smacked of homophobia.
Now Los Angeles Times‘ reporter Mary McNamara wants Gibson to get a pink slip, saying that Gibson’s comments are analogous to Don Imus’ infamous “nappy headed ho” remarks last year. Gibson’s offensive utterance ain’t the least of McNamara’s issues, however. We’ve included quite a bit of her text, because it’s on point:
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Gibson’s remarks was their premeditation. The opening had been scripted. Then he enjoyed his ghastly jaunt so much he could not let it drop. The Imus excuse — that he made a regrettable off-the-cuff comment — does not even apply, actually. Gibson’s defense — I have been making fun of gays for years, why should I stop just because someone died? — is truly chilling, while his “I’m sorry if some of you found my remarks offensive” is a classic non-apology.
Yes, there are many things occupying our minds these days — the economy, the presidential race, the writers strike, the weather — but this is one of those moments, folks, when we, the television and radio audience, need to take a moment and consider where we stand.
Because it’s easy to say to yourself, “Well, what else do you expect from these ridiculous ‘schlock jocks’? They seem to go out of their way to prove they’re idiots.”
When my editor asked if I wanted to write something about Gibson, my first reaction was, “Why give the guy more attention than he deserves?” But that’s a cop-out, and one that has been used over the years to excuse or ignore invective leveled at many, including the Irish and African Americans, as well as Jews and women.
That Gibson would choose the event of a young man’s death — a young heterosexual man, it must be said — to exercise his “right” to homophobia is not just a matter of taste, it’s an issue of policy. What is Fox News’ policy about the language of hate? And more important, what is our policy?
We’re not holding our breath for Fox to make a statement. They are not the most balanced of news outlets. Nor are we entirely sure Gibson should be fired. Yes, his comments were full of hate and utterly despicable, but wouldn’t firing him trounce America’s free speech laws? He didn’t incite violence, nor did he come right out and say “Fags are AIDS carrying monsters”. It seems to us that while Gibson certainly deserves all the criticism and anti-fan mail in the world, firing him may not be the best course of action. We’d love to see Fox distance themselves from Gibson’s perspective, but, again, we’re not holding our breath.
Sorry guys, but free speech is about government censorship. Gibson does not have the right to say whatever he wants on his boss’s dime, and his boss needs to realize that they and their advertisers are funding Gibson’s gleeful celebration of someone’s death. If that’s the kind of shit they want to stand for, that’s absolutely their right, but it says a great deal about who they are. I hope their advertisers realize that. Any company with a smidgen of moral standards would fire his ass now.
gay as life
The comparison to Imus is moot, because he’s back at work again already – more famous than before. Plus, now I can’t avoid seeing new billboards of his scary old face all around the NYC area. I certainly don’t want the same thing to happen with Gibson.
What Gibson should be fired for is the pathetic lameness of his “sense of humor”. What idiots listen to this boob on a regular basis?
can John Gibson survive form the Fire For Ledger Remarks,personaly,i believe gay’ future lie on their effort,i and my girly gay partner meet on gaysinglehunt.com,we’re delighted with our current life
This is my angry letter sent to Fox and their VP’s last Friday. Regardless, his ass should be dragged over the coals.
John Gibson reported and I have decided: Fox News Anti-gay propaganda at its most blatant.
How could this man mock the death of a person and not be held accountable? He needs to be fired as was Don Imus for calling women who are still alive the names he did.
This is hate talk. This is verbal gay-bashing. Teaching intolerance. I can’t understand how you and your station can pardon or simply overlook this. Your inaction thus far has proven to me you and your station view this as trivial and harmless. Which I find disgusting !
The fact remains Mr. Ledger was a heterosexual actor, The father of a two year old child and is being publicly lambasted in this manner because he portrayed a homosexual ? I can’t understand how your don’t find this behavior disturbing? The man is dead and straight, what happened to compassion? If nothing else, professionalism?
Mr. Gibson’s comments were at best ignorant, hate filled speech. The simple mindlessness it takes to say something as judgmental as he said, what he said demonstrates he mocked this mans death to suit his own agenda and he has no moral values.
I grew up watching Fox news and while I may not have agreed in the past with all the news, at least I was able to respect the views of the host. This I say was not a view I could respect. I can’t understand how you could not be embarrassed by this episode.
Fair and Balanced, I think not.
My letter to Mitch Davis, VP Fox, was deleted without even being read.
To: Davis, Mitch
Subject: John Gibson
Sent: Fri, 25 Jan 2008 12:03:18 -0500
was deleted without being read on Sat, 26 Jan 2008 18:06:54 -0500
First, it seems the idiot spammer fabianland is now back and doing business as YALESING.
Now, back on topic. Yes I think the creep Gibson should be fired. Not just because of the Ledger vulgarity, but also because he’s a liar and a pathetic excuse for a journalist or pundit or shock jock or whatever he’s supposed to be. Since I never listen to Gibson, I have little idea of who his sponsors are. If I were a listener and offended, I would most certainly let his employers and his sponsors know of my displeasure. I know of Gibson having read transcripts of some of his rants and having heard snippets of his on air crap, but I would never listen to his show or patronize his sponsors.
Should Gibson be fired? Decency requires it.
He is the perfect ugly mug to represent Fox.
It would be momentarily satisfying at most if Gibson lost his job. Itâ€™s the attitude cultivated at Fox News that let him think he could get away with it in the first place. If heâ€™s fired, heâ€™ll be replaced with someone who, given the first opportunity, will say something every bit as repugnant.
We will just have to remember this when someone he cares for passes away.
As he said, a good joke is hard to pass up.
Free speech may be a right given to us in this country, but human decency should guide us to exercise respect and restraint when speaking.
John Gibson may have had the free speech issue on his side to say what he said on air, but it does not at all mean that it gives him a free pass to immunity from criticism-you know those of us who find him a disgusting example of a human being and want to use our rights of free speech to express our views.
Just like the ridiculous protesters from that “church” (I use the quotes, because any true church would realize as well that there is a time for respect and restraint), I don’t feel that this is a time to shove archaic views down everyone’s throats. Plus, Heath Ledger was not gay, and it’s so disgusting and wrong to associate his whole life with one movie role.
Remember, there is a daughter left behind, and as much as I can be disgusted by my daughter’s father and his often foolish behavior, I would expect nothing but respect from anyone she comes in contact with if, Heaven forbid, she loses him in the near future.
I don’t think Imus should have been fired. I think that Imus’ apology was heart-felt and sincere and if you remember, the Rutger’s Women’s Basketball Team did not accept his apology until after he was fired. Weren’t they magnanimous to accept his apology?
Gibson may be less than slime but he has a right to say what he wants. However, if Imus was fired for his comments, Gibson should be equally fired. I agree with Jen. Gibson’s comments are no better than the Westboro Baptist Church’s picketing of not only gay funerals but also the funerals of our soldiers.
Oh! And Mozzer, Gibson’s rhetoric may not incite violence but it DOES incite hate. That is the same thing as if he stood up and told everyone that they should go out and shoot someone. It perpetuates the homophobia. It is not a moot point. If Imus should be fired for his comments, Gibson should likewise.
Frankly, where I find that Ledger’s passing was unfortunate and sad, I think we have blown it out of proportion. When I mentioned at school that Brad Renfro had passed on, I got blank stares. When I mentioned that Suzanne Plashette passed on, I got blank stares (albeit, she was 70 years old but that is not the point). When Heath Ledger passed on, the school was abuzz for three days. We have become slaves to celebrity. If the star is too old or “not famous enough,” we shrug. We ignore the great body of work the artist created. Ledger did exemplary work but most people ignore his contribution over his “stud-factor.”
Ledger’s passing is a tragedy. The reaction that we have toward it is a greater tragedy.
Gibson’s reaction is an abomination.
Gibson is a dead ringer for Quentin Crisp, but without Crisp’s wit or demeanor, manners or humanity.
I say some ambitious whore oughtta set Gibberish up and videotape him on his knees, in a toilet, a la Larry Craig.
Americans often invoke free speech doctrine (incorrectly) during everyday disagreements.
Legally speaking, free speech means the government – in most circumstances – cannot exact retribution or punishment against you for expressing a viewpoint. Even in the case of official censorship though, there are exceptions to the rule (speech deemed as obscene, for instance).
As far as individuals and private entities are concerned, Americans have far fewer protections than they’re often led to believe. Businesses are only prohibited from censoring speech that’s been specifically protected by federal legislation. Currently, these protections only cover a few select areas, mostly related to labor practices and complaints. Thus, FOX News’ executives can fire John Gibson for mocking Heath Ledger. They won’t because they’re a right-wingers who probably agree with Gibson’s sentiments, but it’s certainly within their legal rights.
Mary McNamara’s article on the Los Angeles Times seemed to have less supportive feedback than she was comfortable with. So much so that comments and replies to her article were removed from her page. Maybe you have to be a subscriber to see them, I don’t know. Tsk tsk, L.A. Times. Be careful who’s opinion you quote, as obviously hers was breathed new life into by censoring what the majority was thinking, which is to leave the sad man alone and stop fanning the flames around you. I serve proudly and I fight to make sure men like him and squabblers like you all can sit around and waste your breath while my brothers die out in the desert.
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