The Root Examines Rapper T.I.'s Argument

In Vibe magazine's December issue (on stands today), rapper T.I.  says that gay people are “too sensitive” to anti-gay sentiment. Citing anti-gay jokes made earlier this year by comedian Tracy Morgan, T.I. goes on to say that it is “not American” to hold people accountable for their words: “They’re like, ‘If you have an opinion against us, we’re gonna shut you down.’ ... That’s not American. If you're gay you should have the right to be gay in peace, and if you're against it you should have the right to be against it in peace."

The Root, a leading online source of news and commentary from an African American perspective, takes a look at T.I.’s logic. Writer Michael Arceneaux writes:

Not only does this statement suggest that the recently paroled rapper has a shaky grasp of U.S. civics, but he confused the concept of entertainers having the creative freedom to push the envelope with some bizarre request for public figures to be allowed to be hateful without repercussions.

Comics go to the edge, but sometimes they jump over it headfirst. Like the 30 Rock star's declaration that if his son was gay, "he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked an effeminate, high-pitched voice], or he would pull out a knife and stab that little ni**a to death." It was this joke, not the one T.I. referenced in Vibe, that got the comedian in hot water with gay-rights groups.

It's delusional to think that Morgan would be able to say what he said without criticism, and ridiculous not to see why gays and straights alike were offended by those words. For the record, if you want to express your opinions "in peace," you don't offer them before a crowd.

In an attempt to address criticism over his comments to Vibe, T.I. called TMZ to clarify his reasoning. He explained: "It's about people who take themselves too seriously, any group. It's not just about gays. I think that African-American groups sometimes take things a tad too seriously, too ... If you use the n-word like Don Imus and say something that's completely derogatory and disrespectful, that's understandable."

The Root’s Michael Arceneaux notes, “[I]t's regrettable that [T.I.] missed how Morgan's comments embody the very derogatory and disrespectful sentiments that he finds out of bounds…”

T.I. also failed to acknowledge that LGBT people cannot be “gay in peace” while others fuel an environment of hostility by using anti-gay slurs and advocating violence against people who happen to be gay.