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    July 03, 2007

    Isaiah gets the last word (hopefully)

    Posted by: Chris

    Isaiahwashingtonshh_2 For someone who claims to be censored, Isaiah Washington sure does talk a lot. By my count he's given a half-dozen well-publicized interviews since being canned from "Grey's Anatomy," but there he was again last night on "Larry King Live," saying no one had heard his side of the story on the "F-word" flare-up that cost him his job.

    Washington has been a moving target all along, taking responsibility without actually taking responsibility — apologizing to castmate T.R. Knight, who came out as a result of the October incident, even while repeatedly denying he used the word in reference to Knight in the first place.

    Of course not much light was shed by Larry King, who in his inimitable kid-glove style walked Washington through his October clash with castmate Patrick Dempsey.

    Washingtondempsey Readers' digest: Washington claims Knight had complained to him during a long plane flight about abusive treatment by Dempsey, and Washington encouraged Knight to raise the issue with "Grey's" producers. In October, after several unrelated incidents in which Dempsey was late on set, the two actors got into a heated exchange.

    KING: So why does that lead to this word?

    WASHINGTON: [Dempsey] got un -- became unhinged, face-to-face, spittle to spittle, in my face -- first. I did not start it. And I'm asking him why is he screaming at me, why are we doing this? Get out of my face. Several times. Several times. And he just becomes irate. But I'm not understanding why am I being berated to this point in front of our crew, particularly after what we experienced in Seattle [when Dempsey was several hours late]. You know, I mean, I think you owe me on apology and I'm being berated.

    And by that time I pushed him out of my face and it just took off from there and I began to say a lot of -- a lot of things that I'm not really proud of -- but all referring to myself and how I felt I was being treated.

    KING: But how did the bad word come out of that?

    WASHINGTON: Well, I said several bad words, as well as he did.

    KING: To him?

    WASHINGTON: To him about how I was feeling. I said there's no way you're going to treat me like a "B" word or a "P" word or the "F" word. You can't treat me this way in front of our crew.

    KING: So you weren't referring to him as being an F person?

    WASHINGTON: Never. Never.

    KING: Or anybody else being one?

    WASHINGTON: Never, Larry. Never, never, never, never.

    King (of course) accepted the explanation at face value, but later in the show, in retelling the story, Washington's account changed significantly, in a way that explains the connection with the in-flight conversation Washington previously had with Knight, and in a way that explains why pretty much everyone but Washington took his "F-word" reference as a shot at Knight.

    WASHINGTON: I said, "I don't -- I don't want to bring anymore attention to this than I already have. I don't want to throw anybody under the bus, but I've got to clear my name. I -- this is misinterpreted. I did not say" -- I said yes, you're not going to "B" me, "P" me, "F" me, because I'm not T.R. I never said you are T.R.

    Going back to me thinking that I could be the big brother, to defend my family and T.R. which is not my place to do, against so- called bullying.

    So Knight had complained to Washington about Dempsey's abusive behavior, and when Dempsey became abusive toward Washington, he wanted to be clear with Dempsey that he was no faggot, like T.R.

    George_blogEven accepting Washington's account, he was referring to himself but by way of contrast with Knight. "You can treat T.R. like a bitch or a faggot. But you won't get away with it with me." "I'm a man," in other words, "unlike that faggot Knight." With defenders like Washington, who needs bullies?

    Can anyone imagine Washington accepting a similarly half-baked explanation if the roles were reversed? What if Dempsey had an on-set blow-up with a castmate and said, "I'm not your [N-word]. I'm not Isaiah." Would Washington have agreed the "N-word" wasn't used in reference to him? Methinks not.

    I do agree with Washington that the situation was blown completely out of proportion, though Washington contributed more than his share by repeating the "F-word" at the Golden Globes, ruining the celebratory mood after the cast won several trophies. And his failure — to this day — to accept responsibility for the fact he did use the word in reference to Knight, only made matters worse.

    Even still, I don't believe Washington should have been canned from the cast. And as a big fan of the show since its first episode, I'll miss Dr. Preston Burke and his quirky relationship with Cristina Yang (played by Sandra Oh).

    But I am happy to see the "F-word" move closer and closer to the off-limits territory occupied by the "N-word," where it's no longer acceptable to use in any context, no matter how innocuous. A few semi-guilty folks like Washington may get overblown treatment, but it's a small price to pay for the societal good that will result -- in playgrounds and workplaces and TV sets everywhere.

    Click here for a complete news summary of the Isaiah Washington brouhaha, compiled by Gay News Watch.



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    1. KJ on Jul 3, 2007 11:24:54 AM:

      Oops! Just realized I don't care. Does that make me a bad 'mo?

    1. East Villager on Jul 3, 2007 11:42:14 AM:

      Make that two bad 'mos, KJ... We ought to be ashamed.

    1. Rob Power on Jul 3, 2007 5:33:17 PM:

      "A small price to pay for the societal good" has been used way too many times as an excuse to attack freedom and individual liberty.

      Kinda surprised to see that phrase used here.

    1. Sean on Jul 4, 2007 8:07:36 AM:

      I liked (almost) every thing you said especially this which is exactly what I thought.

      "Even accepting Washington's account, he was referring to himself but by way of contrast with Knight. "You can treat T.R. like a bitch or a faggot. But you won't get away with it with me." "I'm a man," in other words, "unlike that faggot Knight." With defenders like Washington, who needs bullies?"

      You ruined the mood with this:

      "Even still, I don't believe Washington should have been canned from the cast. And as a big fan of the show since its first episode, I'll miss Dr. Preston Burke and his quirky relationship with Cristina Yang (played by Sandra Oh)."

      Unfortunately you are more concerned with fictional characters than real gay people to actually want what is right; firing. Why are you so weak-kneed when it comes to situations involving straight people? You have the balls to take on gay people and gay organizations but not straight people. You wouldn’t even call Jerry Falwell a bigot or anti-gay which he was.

      I've given Isaiah the benefit of the doubt throughout this situation even when most said his apologies were insincere. Those people were right; he still believes gay men are weak. He's prejudice against gay people. When Larry asked him if he was anti-gay he said he was not homophobic. That's his underhanded way of saying I'm not afraid a gay people. He is very underhanded. He referred to T.R. as a young man even though he's 34 years old and called the few conversations he had with T.R. as gossip. While he referred to Patrick and himself as men and said they had conversations. He was able to question T.R.'s manhood in a subtle way without anyone noticing. Isaiah said some of his "friends" are "very" gay or "clearly" gay.

      He has gotten more than a fair treatment in the press and public. Compared to situations involving Mel Gibson, Imus and Michael Richards there has barely been any coverage. Intially media sources tried to cover up what he said, that didn't happen with those other situations.

      I'm glad he was fired it was the right decision. It's a sign that people do not tolerate prejudice.

    1. George on Jul 4, 2007 11:47:40 AM:

      Sympathetic to several "who cares" posts, I wasn't going to post any comment, actually. But then I got to the "it's a small price to pay for the societal good that will result" part and, just like Rob Power (who commented above), I have to say I was quite surprised to see it here...

    1. Citizen Crain on Jul 4, 2007 12:20:00 PM:

      I suppose Sean's comment proves the point Rob Power and George make in theirs.

      Sean, do you really think someone should be fired from their job based upon your subjective belief about their private prejudices? Even if you're right and Washington is prejudiced, are we now claiming prejudiced people don't deserve employment? Yes, he used an offensive word and he ought to have taken full responsibility when he apologized, but it's not as if he hadn't suffered real consequences before his termination from "Grey's."

      Employment decisions like this come down to what kind of workplace they create. Washington did use of the "F-word" about Knight but it's not as if Washington had power over Knight in the workplace, and the overwhelming reaction more than countered any harassment Knight might have felt.

      It wasn't a firing offense in my view (independent of my regret about the fictional character he portrays), and I understand the gut reaction Rob Power and George had as a result. That said, this wasn't the result of government action or censorship. It was the marketplace in action.

      I can accept a transitionary period with a somewhat unfair, P.C.-type environment around words like "faggot" if it means slurs like it are condemned to the "N-word" dustbin of history sooner.

    1. Sean on Jul 4, 2007 8:46:36 PM:

      He made his prejudice known and created a negative work environment. Yes, he should have been fired.

    1. Kevin on Jul 5, 2007 6:35:00 AM:

      This guy's behavior now -- shamelessly playing the race card to be exact -- just shows that he was never sorry. The 'rehab' stint and the PSA were merely designed to help save his career because he at least realized what he did would be perceived as horrible by most people. But his stubborn refusal to admit he was wrong just proves that this asshole would continue to behave this way in his workplace in the future and is not deserving of a high-paying, high-profile job in a production that depends on the good will of the public.

    1. DCJRB on Jul 6, 2007 8:18:07 PM:

      Give him a year he will be opening up new Targets at a mall in Boise.

      He has gotten far more media attention than he deserves. Let's now allow him to slink quietly into has been land.

    1. faggity fag fag faggot on Jul 10, 2007 4:47:18 PM:

      What's with this "F-word" crap? I always thought the "F-word" was "Fuck!" What gives?

      Get over it guys... It is precisely this attitude what gives those words their "weight." The best way to counteract these words is not by banning them or rendering them unprintable... It's by rendering them meaningless.

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