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. With, more or less, the exception of Bryce whose back skin we've never been concerned about, and Rad who seems to think the most important issue is not the increase in hate speech with impunity and its consequences but the poor state of TV programs, I'm very gratified to see the majority of people properly outraged by not just the original "crime" but the attempt to deny, and, more recently, mock it [as Heigl and others said, there was NO reason for him to repeat the word Monday night, and the fact that he did it in the context of claiming to "want to be gay" himself and that he and that the fellow [white] actor he assaulted "sing 'Ebony & Ivory' every night" sufficiently proves that to me].

    I am also happy to see that there is less race-baiting—in either direction—going on at least here, and applaud out, black writer/producer Barclay for publicly calling for Washington to be fired [we'll discuss his own "NYPD Blue" sins another time].

    While I want to believe that the increased public/media attention will result in him being fired, I repeat that the fact that he wasn't fired simply for the physical assault in October is not encouraging, given that he was hardly one of the star leads in the show—"McHotty" doesn't refer to HIS violence-management issues. Again, put this in a "civilian" context, and set the homohate aside. Assuming none of us are the owner/top dog wherever we work, if we grabbed a fellow employee by the throat would WE still be working there?

    Second, ABC, while there remain exceptions such as the very positive gay character on "Brothers & Sisters," is the network that stopped taking the high road relative to gay issues some time ago. With the help of a shamless but out gay producer—allowed Elizabeth Vargas to do a 2004 special in which she blamed Matthew Shepard for his own murder, and, knowing what a controversial program it should have been, refused to grant GLAAD's request to see the program ahead of time [someone else snuck them a copy at the last minute]. There was very little protest because of that and because it was shown the night after Thanksgiving when relatively few, thankfully, saw it.

    We must NOT let this chain of events permeated with homohatred simply fade away.

    Posted by: Leland | Jan 18, 2007 11:04:59 AM

  2. washington should have to appear on The View to explain himself... that might be punishment enough.
    as for ABC's nervousness to lose a valuable african-american role, why not replace him with another actor... it's not as if they have to kill off his character. afterall, Bewitched had two Darrins.

    Posted by: A.J. | Jan 18, 2007 11:13:37 AM

  3. I say just stop watching the show until something is done. Hit them where it hurts. That's the only way to get something done in this world.

    Posted by: Eric | Jan 18, 2007 11:16:35 AM

  4. Also this address:

    Grey's Anatomy
    Production Office
    4151 Prospect Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA 90027

    Posted by: Sparty | Jan 18, 2007 11:23:54 AM

  5. Reggie,

    So according to your "logic" a Black homophobe is a nigger. And a White gay racist is a what? Faggot? WTF? Exactly what is "the truest sense of the word"? Please tell me, because as a Black man I would like to know about the nature of a word that has been used against my people all my life!
    Sorry but your argument is asinine and you're an ass.

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Jan 18, 2007 11:36:45 AM

  6. Leland, once again, you hit that one out of the park!

    Informed, well written and civil.


    Posted by: Zeke | Jan 18, 2007 11:38:29 AM

  7. SoulBrotha, AMEN!!!

    Posted by: Zeke | Jan 18, 2007 11:40:10 AM

  8. ^5 to Leland and Soulbrother. Gentlemen, you speak to truth and power. Amen indeed.

    Posted by: rudy | Jan 18, 2007 11:48:34 AM

  9. TYPICAL the bruthas rally regardless of circumstances.

    Posted by: M | Jan 18, 2007 11:59:46 AM

  10. Unless the show's fanbase of young women write in to have him fired they won't do anything. One thing that hasn't been clear is exactly what lead up to all the trouble to begin with. Why was IW so angry in the first place? What is going on there? This may be key because IW may have cause to sue if fired. Others may have threatened to quit if he is fired, etc. It could derail the whole show. Likewise, TR may have indicated he doesn't want IW fired--a generally wise career move. This whole thing may discourage other actors from coming out too, as in "Come out and your TV Show will go off the air!" He could end up being blamed for the whole thing (life is not fair in Tinseltown).

    Posted by: Anon | Jan 18, 2007 12:06:39 PM

  11. Ditto RUDY

    Also kudos to Andy for keeping the story alive and for taking off the horrible posts by that idiot TURD.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Jan 18, 2007 12:08:14 PM

  12. Washington physically assaulted a colleague and then made bigoted accusations about another colleague in the workplace, all of which ended up in the newspapers and casting a poor light on this otherwise quite good production. His actions continue to make it very difficult for his colleagues to focus on their professional responsibilities. Furthermore, he followed these offensive actions by continuing to behave in a boorish, dishonest, and hateful manner while representing the show at a highly visible media event. Regardless of what word he used, he deserves to be fired because he has behaved in an abominably unprofessional manner that shows great disrespect for his job, the viewers, his colleagues, and his profession in general.

    Fire the asshole already, and replace him with a new character played by an actor who appreciates this huge professional opportunity.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 18, 2007 12:09:18 PM

  13. That was unnecessary.

    Posted by: MikeinSanJose | Jan 18, 2007 12:09:55 PM

  14. M,

    TYPICAL, you can't read. Maybe you and Reggie can date.


    Posted by: James | Jan 18, 2007 12:12:01 PM

  15. Isaiah Washington's behavior at the Golden Globes is what has elevated the situation to the level of his needing to be fired.

    Whatever happened back in October, it was an "in-house" issue and was handled as such, for the most part. Thus, it wasn't necessary to fire the man back then.

    But now that he has lied about his behavior, mocked it ("please let me be gay"), and used the word "faggot" publicly - the issue has become undeniably public and in fact has an effect on all gay people.

    I can't imagine that TR Knight went on the Ellen show without permission from the higher ups at Grey's and ABC, which leads me to believe that Mr. Washington will suffer some ramifications... Perhaps I'm being naive...

    Posted by: Johnny | Jan 18, 2007 12:21:36 PM

  16. I'm afraid I can't agree with this one. If people start getting fired over saying one word in what they thought was private, that's a bad precedent to my mind.

    Posted by: Thor | Jan 18, 2007 12:42:06 PM

  17. It's interesting to see how many people (including here in this very thread) will say "N" or "The N Word" but have no problem throwing around the word "Faggot". Why is that not "F" or "The F Word".

    Both words are simultaneously harmless & hateful. They are, after all, just a collection of letters on a page (or on screen) -- but they BOTH represent something terribly wrong & hateful.

    All i'm saying is, if you're gonna use one, you gotta be able to use the other.

    Posted by: CURIOUS | Jan 18, 2007 12:44:18 PM

  18. Why Isiah insists on digging himself deeper into a hole is beyond me. I don't think he can be fired for lying about the incident the cast and crew have already verified, but why he does it befuddles me.

    I was fine with his apology to his cast a few months ago. Now, I honestly don't know.

    Posted by: Marco | Jan 18, 2007 12:47:22 PM

  19. "I'm afraid I can't agree with this one. If people start getting fired over saying one word in what they thought was private, that's a bad precedent to my mind." - THOR

    He did not say it in private, but in the work place among serval people, not to mention his assult on Dempsy. Plus he repeated the word, then denied the whole insident, on national TV.

    Agree or not, the bottom line is the dollar. ABC will not be happy as long as this is the news, and not the show. I for one am glad it is still going, three days after the fact. Good riddance to an asshole.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Jan 18, 2007 12:56:08 PM

  20. Thank you, curious.

    Posted by: jmg | Jan 18, 2007 1:07:46 PM

  21. I find it curious that if e-mails, jokes, or open discussions that slander a particular minority (no matter how harmless or ineffectual) can get an employee fired from a corporation, Washington can continue on in his position. Most corporations have stated workplace rules about intimidating work environments. Honestly! As a black man, Washington has breached so many of these (that were set up to protect blacks, frankly)that he needs to be fired, he needs to be censured, and he needs to be counseled. What a stupid, talentless hack. And, BTW, ABC is showing its true colors more frequently:
    Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty can't paint them a prettier picture. Frankly, I would like to see Mark Cherry or any of the other shows with gay characters on ABC speak up about this. Thank God for Katherine Heigle

    Posted by: woodroad34 | Jan 18, 2007 1:22:36 PM

  22. This is the comment I posted when I signed the petition. And yes, BRAVA to Katherine Heigel!

    Ms. Rhimes should not think of this as replacing one black actor with another; Washington's character should be written off the show. It doesn't matter if he is replaced by a white, black, green, or purple actor or actress. He should be fired because he is a mean-spirited, callous, and low-class person whose demeanor suggests that he believes himself to be above it all and better than everyone else. I now despise the character of Preston Burke only because I detest looking at Mr. Washington. I cannot turn off the fact that he is a despicable person and I loathe watching him at all. It is the same way with Mel Gibson and his spewing of similar hatred; I will not watch anything he is associated with. Where I once enjoyed him, I can no longer involve myself in being a part of anything he does. My entire family and I consider Grey’s Anatomy to be a favorite program; but we are not sure how long we will subject ourselves to viewing Washington on a regular basis.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jan 18, 2007 1:26:37 PM

  23. Although I don't like being called a faggot, it's not the end of the world. The schoolyard references here are ironically appropriate; only little boys cry about being called names. Real men stand up, calmly point out that name calling is the province of children, and move on. This is a teachable moment for those harboring stereotypes of us gays as limp-wristed cry babies.

    Posted by: Perspective | Jan 18, 2007 1:27:03 PM

  24. Perspective -

    So by your logic, women should just suck it up if they're called whores or bitches in the workplace? Or Jews if they're called "typical cheap Jew"? Or blacks, or Latinos or any other group?

    Give me a break. This is not politically correct overreaction. It's about homophobia, deceit, and workplace appropriate behavior.

    Posted by: Johnny | Jan 18, 2007 1:40:42 PM

  25. AMEN Perspective....

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 18, 2007 1:40:55 PM

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