Isaiah Washington | News | Patrick Dempsey | T.R. Knight | Television

ABC Must Fire Isaiah Washington Over Anti-gay Remarks

Calls are ringing out throughout the blogosphere for some kind of response from Washington and ABC. A petition has sprung up online in a bid to have ABC fire Washington for his ongoing slurs against gay people. (I wish someone would go in and correct the spelling in the petition but I suppose it's the message that's important.)

Washington_1In an interview with AfterElton, director and producer Paris Barclay gave his opinion about what should happen: "Here's what needs to happen: ABC, from Steve McPherson [ABC President] on down, need to condemn this kind of hate-speak, and Isaiah needs to be fired. It's just that simple. He needs to go. He's a homophobe and a liar, and no matter how important he may appear to be, there has to be a line on what behavior is acceptable both on the set and when representing the show to the press."

Meanwhile, GLAAD yesterday issued a statement calling for Washington to apologize and make amends, and announcing that they're contacting Washington's "people" to arrange a meeting with the actor.

Said GLAAD President Neil Giuliano: "When Isaiah Washington uses this kind of anti-gay slur — whether on set or in front of the press — it does more than create a hostile environment for his castmates and the crew of Grey's Anatomy. It also feeds a climate of hatred and intolerance that contributes to putting our community in harm's way. As Ellen pointed out in her discussion with T.R., this is a word that's used to abuse kids on school playgrounds. We also know that, tragically, this sometimes can be the last word people hear before they're attacked, beaten and possibly even killed. Washington's repeated use of it on-set and in the media is simply inexcusable. We want to sit down with him and give him an opportunity to raise public awareness about the destructive impact of these kinds of anti-gay slurs. Over the past four months Washington has become part of a significant problem of anti-gay prejudice in this country. He has an opportunity now to be part of the solution."

Unfortunately, the time for hand-holding and apologies has long passed.

Washington had his opportunity to make amends over the remarks, and instead he chose to lie.

Isaiah Washington needs to be fired from Grey's Anatomy. It is past time for ABC to take action and show that they will not tolerate the use of hateful language towards gay people now, or at any point in the future.

The longer ABC waits to formulate a response to these incidents, the more they become complicit in what has occurred.

The background...
T.R. Knight Discusses Anti-gay slur on Ellen [tr]
T.R. Knight Confirms Details of Washington's Homophobic Slur [tr]
Grey's Anatomy's Katherine Heigl Scolds Washington for Slur [tr]
Isaiah Washington Still Obsessed with TR Knight [tr]
Grey's Anatomy Actor T.R. Knight: "I'm Gay" [tr]
Tab: Isaiah Washington Used Gay Slur in Grey's Anatomy Brawl [tr]

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  1. There's nothing I'd like to see more than see his ass fired but I don't think he will. He'll apologize, Shonda will apologize, ABC will apologize but Preston Burke will continue to work for Seattle Grace.

    Posted by: gabe | Jan 18, 2007 8:37:05 AM

  2. Yeah, Mr. Washington makes nasty commments. But he won't get fired. The "blogosphere" and the news media are giving ABC exactly what it wants, Publicity!!! This controversy will get people who usually don't watch Grey's Anatomy to tune in. I don't watch the show and have actually tuned in once or twice since the controversy started. He won't be fired. He will be forced to apologize. This is just like Mel Gibson and his anti-sematic comments. It genereated buzz for him and his movie Apocolipto. The producers are not going to sacrifice a hit show for a comment by a homophobe and the fact that the cast doesn't get along. It is a cash cow for ABC. As I recall, the cast of Sex and the City didn't get along so well and they continued the show.

    Posted by: Matt | Jan 18, 2007 8:51:30 AM

  3. There are two problems with this petition:

    First of all, no one is going to take anything with that many typos seriously.

    Second, there is no way to verify any of those names. Pen-and-paper petitions are effective (occasionally, anyway) because they have physical signatures attached to names and verifiable addresses. Internet petitions like this one could be signed repeatedly by the same person who can simply add the names and email addresses of their friends or family. There are a few names that show up twice in a row, likely because someone hit the "submit" button twice.

    If you want to take action, write a letter to ABC, telling them you won't buy anything advertised on the show until Washington is fired. That hits them where they live.

    There's an online form here:

    Snail mail:
    ABC, Inc.
    500 S. Buena Vista Street
    Burbank, CA 91521-4551

    Posted by: Rodolfo | Jan 18, 2007 8:52:15 AM

  4. Your information string 'The Background' is REALLY helpful. I honestly didn't know what sparked the fight even though I have been hearing about it. I swear your blog is by far the best place to catch up on gay issues. Thanks for always being so informative.

    Posted by: MT | Jan 18, 2007 8:54:51 AM

  5. I don't think the calls for firing will go ignored. And a simple apology from the powers that be is not going to satisfy a large number of influential, very vocal people. This call is not just from GLAAD and gay media and blogs, it is coming from TV journalists, as well:

    (If you're interested, scroll to the last "Q&A" at the bottom of the page)

    Posted by: Nicholas | Jan 18, 2007 8:57:53 AM

  6. This type of slur, hurtful remark needs to be condemned by the corporate heads at ABC. Any incentives in Washington's contract should be negated. Washington needs to make a public apology and confess that he is a liar. He should also seek counseling. But I don't think he should be fired. The punishment outlined above fits the 'crime,' in my opinion.

    Posted by: Stephen | Jan 18, 2007 9:12:26 AM

  7. This is moving beyond the blogs. It was picked up by most major papers, including the NY TIMES and WASHINGTON POST. Same copy, but large readerships.

    Bye Bye Isaih.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Jan 18, 2007 9:29:13 AM

  8. Stephen,

    Counseling? Counseling??!?! Come on. If you want an apology fine, but counseling is a bit a much.


    Posted by: James | Jan 18, 2007 9:30:04 AM

  9. James:

    The guy may feel it was a stupid, hurtful remark for which he now regrets (which it was) and he may be able to apologize and close the door on it, so to speak. I don't know that and neither do you. All I am sayig is that IF he can't close the door on this and not repeat it, then PERHAPS the guy should seek counseling.
    What is wrong with that?

    Posted by: Stephen | Jan 18, 2007 9:34:40 AM

  10. He should be fired.

    If only because not doing so gives the impression that his presence on set and in the show is of more value than not only Knight's but also his well-being and personhood.

    Maybe when pressed, Washington lied because he was afraid. I don't know, we make bad judgement calls all the time. I'll give him that benefit of the doubt, but when I make a bad judgement call, I deal with the undesireable aftermath. We all do, it's called life.

    Furthermore, what example will this play out for others not only in the industry? In an era when an unprecedented number of popular actors are "coming out," an isolating situation of this caliber, and subsequent abandonement by the home studio, could re-affirm fears from others considering coming out as well.

    Posted by: Derrick | Jan 18, 2007 9:41:56 AM

  11. I don't think he deserves to lose his job.

    Posted by: Mike Haddad | Jan 18, 2007 9:43:08 AM

  12. Stephen,

    The whole counseling thing is beside the point. Everyone here can agree that Washington is a jerk, but his personal state of mind is between him and himself. Apologize and don't use the word in public anymore (he can say faggot all he wants when he's home). That's all I want from the man. Everything else is just piling on and beside the point.


    Posted by: James | Jan 18, 2007 9:43:24 AM

  13. I don't know if he should be fired. Maybe by this experience he will learn something, but if not, no skin off my back.

    What's the consequences if he isn't fired? Gay people are going to stop watching a good tv show that is employing an openly gay actor and a few hot men on it? I think not.

    Posted by: Bryce | Jan 18, 2007 9:45:28 AM

  14. Gadzooks, haven't these people heard of Spellcheck? Well, I'm all for putting the pressure on the appropriate parties. Perhaps not fire Mr. Washington, but he most definitely should apologize. A public service announcement would do quite nicely. When it comes to hate speech and/or bashing of any sort, I think the offender should appear on TV and apologize and we run it for a while like a commercial... "sponsored by Americans Against Hate"

    Posted by: miss dna | Jan 18, 2007 9:50:29 AM

  15. It just pisses me off how useless and irrelevant GLAAD has become. I can't believe they pretend to represent the gay community to the entertainment industry. I want to see a copy of GLAAD's letter to the producer of Grey's Anatomy dated LAST OCTOBER!

    Instead their idea is to take a meeting with Washington's people. Absolutely useless.

    Posted by: BeeDee | Jan 18, 2007 9:55:08 AM

  16. I'm a little confused. People seem to be saying that he repeated his slur against Knight at the Golden Globes. While its true that he repreated the "F-word", he said it in the context of: "I never said that, I would never say such a repulsive thing."

    Now, that's obviously a total LIE; however, in that context, he wasn't using the word to slur anyone. He obviously knows that its unacceptable, and he may even know that its hurtful and wrong. I really don't think he meant any harm at the Golden Globes. I just think that it was an INCREDIBLY clumsy (and dishonest) attempt to convince people that he is not homophobic.

    I'm not saying Washington isn't a total sh*t, or that his lying about this incident isn't totally repulsive. Just confused about the charge of "ongoing slurs against gay people." Maybe I missed something (I confess that I haven't followed this too closely).

    Posted by: BR | Jan 18, 2007 9:59:32 AM

  17. I can't say I ever watched Grey's Anatomy. I have no idea who this person is or why it's taking up so much of our time (like this whole "Rosie / Donald" crap).

    My feeling is: If you want to voice your opinion, turn off the television and stop feeding all this nonsense.

    "Dear [fill in the blank]. I have stopped watching your televion shows. My decision is based on a number of reasons:

    1) Your willingness to give promoters of hate-speak a forum
    2) Your incessant need to promote the worst in violent content for your advertising, whether it is a movie or video game release
    3) The absolute banal content of your televison productions and your productions that teach people that if they aspire to behave like the worst dregs of society, you may give them their own televison show.
    4) Your obnoxiously self-centered self-promotions touting 'The most watched', 'Most trusted', 'Most [anything]' that refers back to my third point
    5) The total lack of content you insist on cramming into a 24 hour schedule.
    6) Thinking that the general population craves televion shows about "real people" who don't know how to speak without having a network sensor bleep something out. "Real people" whom I would never, in my worst nightmares, dream of even remotely socializing with.

    There are many more points, but those are the highlights. Good bye, [fill in the blank]. To recall the words of Edward R. Murrow; I wish you were a Medium, what I see is a new Low in what you consider 'entertainment'."


    Posted by: Rad | Jan 18, 2007 10:06:13 AM

  18. Consider this... if Mr. Washington had been called "the N Word", would he then be able to understand the hate nature of his use of "the F word"? Ironic isn't it? This "N" calls this person an "F", proving that in fact, he has no class, and is in fact nothing but an "N" in th etruest sense of the word. And before anyone gets upset about my referencing this word,..if his using this "F" word does not make him an homophobe, then my using the "N" word does not make me a racist. Fire the Bum! And to hell with counselling.

    Posted by: Reggie | Jan 18, 2007 10:13:43 AM

  19. People have to realize that Mr. Washington's race makes this issue a lot more complicated. Many people will see this as ABC getting rid of a brother from a very succesful show. They will not see it as a reaction to homophobia. Especialy when many, and rightfuly so, complain that there are too few good roles being created for african americans in hollywood.

    ABC will not want to piss off a lot of african american viewers just to please a lot of gay viewers. ABC is caught between two rocks in a hard place.

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Jan 18, 2007 10:20:52 AM

  20. He should absolutely be fired. Everyone also seems to forget that he didn't just yell epithets, he didn't just lie, he assaulted a colleague? Too late for apologies, and I say a boycott of the show should be next--even die hard fans can always watch it later on dvd, after ABC notices a ratings plummet.

    Posted by: Ken | Jan 18, 2007 10:27:20 AM

  21. Reggie,

    You are a racist and a fool. Enjoy the rest of your day.


    Posted by: James | Jan 18, 2007 10:29:03 AM

  22. Reggie... well put.

    Posted by: m | Jan 18, 2007 10:44:51 AM

  23. Ken is totally right. If this were any other major industry in the U.S. that has strict guidelines against harrassment, Washington would've been fired in October. That he hasn't yet is quite insulting.

    Posted by: Joseph | Jan 18, 2007 10:49:43 AM

  24. For those this is important to: If you're offended by him, just don't watch the show. Write the network (and the sponsors, if you wish) why you won't watch the show. (Personally, I don't know how anybody could watch that dopey show anyway.)

    Posted by: Joe T. | Jan 18, 2007 10:54:37 AM

  25. 1) Reggie makes a point (though many will not see it). And if whomever called Washington the 'N' word were to get up after the Golden Globes and say in an interview "I did not call him a 'N'. Never did it. Didn't happen." then that would obviously add fuel to the fire. I personally am not offended by 'faggot', but I went through grade school with some VERY NASTY kids, so I'm used to hearing the word spoken by people who don't have a clue.

    2) We're talking about ABC here, you know, the ones who hired Glen Beck for Good Morning America. The ones who got Spocko's blog taken down because Spocko posted audio clips of some of their conservative hate radio heads from KSFO radio in San Francisco. They WON'T take any sort of action on this.

    And if any political action is to be directed at ABC on this matter, be sure to include parent company Disney. You know Disney... the ones who make millions of dollars a year on Gay Day celebrations in Orlando and Anaheim. Yeah, THAT Disney.

    Posted by: MikeinSanJose | Jan 18, 2007 11:00:29 AM

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