Is Alec Baldwin the New Paula Deen?
It has been weeks since Alec Baldwin launched an abusive and overtly homophobic tirade at George Stark on Twitter - and, at the time of writing, he has yet to face any significant consequences.
The incident began in late June, after Stark, a journalist for British right-wing publication The Daily Mail, claimed in an article that Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria Baldwin, had been tweeting at the funeral service for Sopranos actor James Gandolfini. Consequently, the notoriously short-tempered "30 Rock" actor decided to defend his wife via the popular social networking site - posting violent and homophobic remarks such as "I’m gonna find you George Stark, you toxic little queen, and I’m gonna f**k you ... up." He also progressed to write, "[I’d] put my foot up your f**king ass, George Stark, but I’m sure you’d dig it too much."
Undoubtedly realizing the gravity of the situation, Baldwin hastily shut down his Twitter and offered an explanation through one of the nation’s leading gay organizations, GLAAD. Baldwin’s attempt at an apology saw him try to deny the homophobic overtones of the comments, and instead focused on his past advocacy for the LGBT community. He concluded the letter with the following remarks: "I hope that my friends at GLAAD and the gay community understand that my attack on Mr. Stark in no way was the result of homophobia".
In response to Baldwin’s apology, GLAAD’s vice president of communications, Rich Ferraro, issued the following statement: "Alec Baldwin is making it clear that the intent behind his tweets does not excuse his language, especially at a time when there were eleven incidents of violence against gay men in New York City just last month. As we all work to end such senseless acts of violence, allies like Baldwin are right to use these moments to reinforce support for the community and LGBT equality."
Despite the apology, and somewhat protective response from GLAAD, political pundits from all sides of the spectrum have been outraged by the verbal attack. But given the left-wing leanings of Baldwin, it has been the gay conservative commentators that have been the most outspoken over the incident.
Many conservatives felt that Baldwin’s liberal politics and past advocacy for gay rights have essentially guaranteed that he will not face any notable punishment for his behavior. And, thus far, they seem to be correct. EDGE caught up with Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder of GOProud, an LGBT conservative group, and gay conservative political strategist, to get his opinion on the increasingly fraught issue.
"I think the apology to GLAAD was just laughable, because it wasn’t an apology," LaSalvia told EDGE. "He refused to take responsibility, and ultimately his buddies at GLAAD won’t hold him accountable because he is a liberal - his friends in the media and on the left simply refuse to hold him to the same standards as conservative figures."
Critics like LaSalvia are calling for Baldwin to be dropped from his lucrative advertising gig with Capital One. Indeed, the company’s inaction on the issue has left many frustrated, leading for calls to boycott the organization. Fellow conservative activist, John Hawkins, stated that, "It’s still a free country and Alec Baldwin can do as much gay bashing as he likes on Twitter, but it’s hard to understand why Capital One would choose to publicly condone his homophobia by keeping Baldwin on as its spokesman. If Capital One is not going to do the right thing, then Capital One doesn’t deserve our business."
The issue is seemingly more contentious in light of the recent racism scandal involving southern celebrity chef, Paula Deen. The butter worshipping, television stalwart was dropped from her popular cooking show on the Food Network. The incident, which saw her admit in court that she had used racial slurs in the past, also led to her dismissal from numerous other work contracts. Critics have been quick to compare the two incidents - seemingly baffled that Baldwin has evaded a similar backlash.
Despite his lucky escape from the incident, career intact, it would seem that Baldwin hasn’t really learned his lesson. He appeared on "The Howard Stern Show," and instantly launched a myopic critique at popular CNN anchor, Anderson Cooper.
Cooper had been a vocal critic of Baldwin’s preferential treatment over the incident, tweeting that "Why does Alec Baldwin get a pass when he uses gay slurs? If a conservative talked of beating up a ’queen’ they would be vilified." In a poor attempt at self- defense, Baldwin insisted that he wasn’t at all homophobic, before arguing that, "What I realize about him is, everybody in media, they have a job to do. Anderson Cooper has a job to do. And that job is to try to reinforce his credibility in the gay community after the fact that you couldn’t get him out of the closet for 10 years with a canister of tear gas. Now he’s the sheriff. Now he’s running around writing everybody a ticket!"
Judging from that comment - a statement that attempts to trivialize the incident -- it would seem that Baldwin has yet to appreciate the destructive effects of homophobic language, and unsurprisingly, he has yet to face any notable repercussions for his latest outburst.
It is likely that Baldwin’s constant exoneration is indeed a corollary of his liberal leanings, and perhaps it is also symptomatic of a wider cultural refusal to punish homophobia in a similar way to racism. What is unarguably clear, however, is that Alec Baldwin should keep his mouth firmly shut in the future.
EDGE tried to contact Capital One about the incident, but the company’s officials did not reply.