Tracy Morgan says he's sorry for anti-gay rant: What do psychiatrists say?
(CBS) Tracy Morgan says he's sorry for a recent stand-up gig that included a profanity-laced anti-gay tirade that shocked fans and gay rights groups.
"I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words," the "30 Rock" star said in a statement, "Entertainment Weekly" reported Friday. Calling himself "an equal opportunity jokester," he said "I'm not a hateful person and don't condone any kind of violence against others."
Condone anti-gay violence? Morgan had told the audience he would commit it, saying he would stab his son to death if he said he was gay, the magazine reported. It cited an account posted on Facebook by Kevin Rogers, a Nashville man who said he had been in the audience.
Morgan also said during the gig homosexuality is "something kids learn from the media" and that "gay is a choice," according to the account. Similar things have been said by other prominent people, including presidential candidate Herman Cain. In a recent interview with CBS News, he called homosexuality sinful and "a choice."
Whether or not such remarks are funny - or politically advantageous - is one thing. But psychiatrists say Morgan and Cain are off the mark, scientifically speaking.
"We don't know what causes people to be gay any more than we know what causes them to be straight," psychiatrist Dr. Mary Barber, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health, told CBS News. "But homosexuality is not a choice. People feel that their sexual identity is a very integral part of themselves. It's not something they can wish for."
At one time the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality a mental disorder. But that changed in 1973, when homosexuality was removed as a "diagnosis" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the "bible" of mental illness.
As Barber put it, Morgan was "playing into old stereotypes that hardly anybody believes anymore."
But the perpetuation of such stereotypes was less worrisome, she said, than what Morgan reportedly said about anti-gay bullying. According to Rogers's account, Morgan said "gays needed to quit being p****** and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying."
Insignificant? Hardly,.even in jest. In a recent position statement, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry said bullied children suffer all sorts of physical and emotional problems, including depression, anxiety, sleep problems, headaches, stomachaches, and eating disorders.
Oh, yes, and even suicide.
Talk about killer jokes.
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