Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Boy ... the rehab REALLY didn't take

Now Isaiah Washington is saying that "they fired the wrong guy."

In an interview with Houston Chronicle, the fired Gray's Anatomy star said TR Knight should have been canned for stirring up trouble on the set in the hope of creating a public furor and increasing his own profile and salary. According to Washington, Knight did this by lying about whether Washington's first use of the word "faggot" was aimed at him (Knight was not publicly 'out' at the time).
"That's a lie," Washington said. "I used the word during a disagreement with Patrick [Dempsey, another cast member]. I apologized for that. We shook hands and went back to work."
Washington has since elaborated on the point
"[T.R.] has been working on a conspiracy to get Patrick Dempsey and myself off the show for the last year and a half," Washington claims, "using the incident of the so-called F-word... to blackmail the writers into doing his bidding, and it's not working. The producers...all think that something has gone awfully awry with the stability of T.R. Knight."
And in his first Chronicle interview, Washington noted the fact that first got me interested in this story -- that his second use of the new f-word was not a usage but a quotation to the effect of "I never called TR a faggot," which I called "the all-time low in the field of Stupid Public Obeisances to Political Correctness."

Washington says he was shabbily treated since then and is considering a lawsuit.
"My livelihood, my honor and dignity and my name have been so challenged." ...
"I was not fired for making homophobic slurs," he said. "I did everything I said I would do. I offered to go to counseling, to do a public service announcement. I wanted everyone to know I was remorseful."
"I did everything they told me to do, including not saying anything, and then they didn't renew my contract. That's not fair."
Some black homosexuals are taking his side in this "let's you and him fight" story, and Washington also took his case to BET's Keith Boykin. Washington also has been booked on the ultimate show for celebrities with an agenda -- Larry King. July 2. Set your TiVo. Washington's basic case seems to be "yes, I used the word, but not in the ways it's been portrayed, and TR Knight is using this whole thing as a power play." (Not an unprecedented script when charges of racism, homophobia and the only Seven Contemporary Capital Sins.)

As much as I criticized the Caveman for his use of the same word (although there was much, much else in that case and not this one ... a factor not unrelated to my different reaction), my sympathies are still with Washington on this one.

Yeah, Washington shouldn't have used the word "faggot" in the first place at all. But there is a difference between using a slur and calling a person by that -- the former is analogous to bad language like "fuck" or "shit" and should be forgivable with a handshake in most cases; the latter is a personal assault and may require temporal consequences. Particularly since Knight and/or ABC clearly left people with the impression that Washington had called him a faggot, which was apparently not the case. When you gild the lily about how you have been wronged, others are right to take the actual wrong less seriously.

UPDATE: Washington has played the race card, telling Newsweek that ABC fired him because he refused to play the "a mush-mouth Negro" role (though to be perfectly frank, I thought his post-second-comment reaction was rather servile).
"someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me." ...
"My mistake was thinking black people get second chances. I was wrong," ...
His unwillingness to act like a submissive black at work was part of the problem, Washington said.
"Well, it didn't help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn't a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I didn't speak like I'd just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people sometime," he said.
This smells like it could get REALLY ugly.

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