Jerry Lewis Apologizes for “Fag” Slur

After the clip of last night’s telethon, in which comedian Jerry Lewis identified a member of the audience as “the illiterate fag”, made its way to the internet this morning, there was an understandable objection as well as a statement from GLAAD calling on Lewis to apologize.

Jerry_lewis_2Lewis has done just that, in a statement “to anyone who was offended.”

Said Lewis: “I obviously made a bad choice of words. Everyone who knows me understands that I hold no prejudices in this regard. The success of the (telethon) and all the good that will come from it shouldn’t be lost because of one unfortunate word. I accept responsibility for what I said. There are no excuses. I am sorry.”

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Jerry Lewis Points Out “Illiterate Faggot” in Telethon Audience? [tr]

Comments

  1. Lia says

    Good for Jerry. I think, at his age, to have gone 18 hours like that is pretty amazing, I would have become incoherent much sooner… but then again, we’re not so different.

  2. Tread says

    And we finally get someone who apologizes and doesn’t blame drugs, alcohol or jet lag.

    Kudos to Jerry Lewis.

  3. says

    The statement was aimed at the cameraman. I thought, from the clip, it looked like he was talking about the other cameras, not anyone’s actual family or even real people. Or perhaps he was talking about the other cameramen, but I’m not sure “…identified a member of the audience…” is accurate.

  4. Zeke says

    I’m glad he apologized.

    However I really hate the “to anyone who was offended” line. It infers that the apology is to those overly sensitive people out there who take things too seriously.

    I’m also curious about the oft repeated lines like “that isn’t me” or, “I made a bad choice of words but it isn’t a word that’s part of my vocabulary” or, “anyone who knows me knows that I hold no prejudices in that regard”.

    I really don’t understand how that works.

    Does any understand why it is that people who never use certain slurs, without provocation, use those certain slurs and why people who aren’t “like that” are like that?

    It’s very curious to me.

  5. db says

    I can appreciate his commitment to his causes and the work he has done for others. That doesn’t give him a free pass to say this kind of shit. His apology is weak, but I wouldn’t make an issue of it.

  6. rjp3 says

    He said Faggot the way I bet 99 percent of us do … just slipped out … and he apologized … a great man.

  7. DCN says

    “And we finally get someone who apologizes and doesn’t blame drugs, alcohol or jet lag.”

    Or black people.

  8. brad says

    i was going to say “now that’s how you apologize”, and then i read zeke’s comment, and he’s bang on. how does that work, when you say jews start wars and fag this and nigger that, then excuse yourself as “not that way”.

    it’s like farting and then saying i never do that. whatever, kinda.

  9. Scott/Zeke says

    I guess we’d need to see the actual press release, but when I read it, I took the comments as the actual text of the apology, and the “anyone who was offended” more as the “TO” line on a memorandum. It doesn’t read the same as the typical “if anyone took offense, I’m sorry” thing people usually give.

  10. says

    This is exactly how I took this when I first heard about it. Jerry has never shown any signs of being homophobic previously. I knew he was just trying to be funny by saying something shocking. It reminds me of when Andy Dick got in trouble mocking Michael Richards’ racist tirade. People who are familiar enough with Andy’s humor know he was just making fun of how insane Richards was, but those less familiar with Andy just took it at face value. So even though he apologized, even today there are probably people who think Andy’s a racist.

  11. Jason says

    I LOVE it! All these fucking apologists need to fucking choke! I don’t want to even imagine the bile that would spew forth had the “wrong” person said this. Asshats!

  12. says

    Jerry or anyone else is free to call me a faggot, as long as they’re not homophobic, and only mean it in a joking and friendly way. That was the spirit of the politically incorrect humor of the Rat Pack, Sammy was their friend, so the racist jokes didn’t resonate the same way they normally would’ve, because they were coming from friends. The joke was not the racism itself, it was the absurdity of saying something hateful about a close friend. It’s acknowledging the elephant in the room, the hatred of your minority group, and then mocking it as a form of bonding.

  13. says

    His apology is he did say it about a camera and not an audience member so thats pretty odd that people are getting worked up about the sexual preferance of a TV camera.
    Boy I bet those illiterate folk are begging for some apple poly logies too!

    I’m glad he apologized so all the gay cameras in the world can be at ease.

  14. stephen says

    Isn’t anyone else amazed that after the Isaiah Washington fiasco, that people in/on television would know better and get THAT word out of their vocabulary??

    Just sayin

  15. Frank L says

    Just repeating what others here have already said — but I think it was big of Jerry Lewis to apologize, to apologize so quickly, and to say “There are no excuses.” His apology makes the other half-apologies and fake apologies we’ve seen in recent months from celebrities and politicians look like the BS that they are.

  16. Shawn says

    Apologizing is going to start having a “cry wolf” quality pretty soon.

    “Ooops, I called someone faggot. I’m sorry.”
    “Ooops, I called that woman a whore. I’m sorry.”
    “Oooops, I called that man a fat pig. I’m sorry.”

    It’s going to be the excuse to say whatever slips out without thinking. I don’t care if Jerry Lewis is old, or had been on television for a week straight. Like he said, there are no excuses, and he’s old enough to know better in the first place.

  17. Dean says

    I’m still of the opinion that this word… as well as “queer”… won’t go away as long as we as a community continue to use it. I’ve never understood the idea of “reclaiming” a word. It’s an offensive word and if you don’t want “them” to use it, then we shouldn’t either.

    As for Mr. Lewis, he made a mistake and apologized. As long as he leaves it at that (unlike some others), then I’m willing to forget it.

  18. Oscar says

    This situation reminds me of one where the person plunges a knife at another person in the back and then as he pulls the knife says “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that”. The ugly deed was done and came from his heart. No matter how many excuses are given the damage was done on tv with millions watching. Just like Woopi Goldberg excusing Vick for the dogfighting shit. There are parts of this country where blacks are not liked and is part of that area culture, so they can start hanging and killing blacks again and it is excusable. That lady is full of crap. Well, maybe thats the reason she’s black. As for Jelly Lewis, what can you expect from a FAJ (FAT ALCOHOLIC JEW). He’s all three. And I ain’t lying.

  19. Derrick from PHilly says

    Well, Oscar, you sure aint no Schindler, are you? I thought Governor Arnold was the last of the Hitler Youth.

    Damn, you made me forget the clever wisecrack I was going to make comparing this episode to the Isaiah Affair.

    You should place a little swastika after all your comments…a little rainbow one.

  20. Watusi says

    Im guessing none of you queens have seen Lisa Lampanelli perform, and laughed? I mean come on – the man is a COMEDIAN. It think its a sad day when we all are pissing and moaning over Jerry-freaking-Lewis saying ‘faggot’ on live TV, when there is so much more going on in the world for you to focus your outrage on.

    Get off your asses, and go worry about something that will make a difference in the world around you, and stop worrying about who’s saying what – in the entertainment industry of all places.

  21. Watusi says

    Im guessing none of you queens have seen Lisa Lampanelli perform, and laughed? I mean come on – the man is a COMEDIAN. It think its a sad day when we all are pissing and moaning over Jerry-freaking-Lewis saying ‘faggot’ on live TV, when there is so much more going on in the world for you to focus your outrage on.

    Get off your asses, and go worry about something that will make a difference in the world around you, and stop worrying about who’s saying what – in the entertainment industry of all places.

  22. Derrick says

    Amazing isn’t it, I remember the Isaiah Washington blog. At that point I felt he was a loquacious bug but suddenly reading how considerate you guys are about Jerry, it occurs to me that we gays are racist. Everyone is so understanding with Jerry, accepting his apology once, but Isaih’s multiple apologies mean nothing. You guys all look in the mirror and see the reflection of racists, thats what you all are

  23. Wes says

    The difference between Isiah’s “apologies” and Lewis’ is that the latter was clearly more sincere. Instead of placing the blame on everyone else, he owned it, admitted it was wrong, and apologized.

  24. Wes says

    And what would you say to all my black friends who think Isiah Washington was an idiot for what he did and how he handled it? I guess they must be racists too.

  25. Derrick says

    Amazing Wes, because I have black friends too, and I know most people said he talks alot but not one of them believes if he was white, people like me and you would give a damn. And they proved a point, with Jerry, we all of a sudden know he is sincere because his publicist puts out a statement, but when Isiah apologized, we were Gods and knew he wasn’t sincere. And the odd thing is, you and I both call ourselves fags. So frankly, I know Jerry didn’t mean anything by it. But its shameful how much energy we put on Isaiah for a word he apologized for using. Wes, you need to check yourself in the mirror and ask your black friends what they reaaly think of you, because I know what my boyfriend thinks of me

  26. Wes says

    Uh my black friends are fine with me, hence they’re my friends. If Jerry Lewis gave some half assed apology blaming everyone but himself I wouldn’t have thought his apology worth much.

    Do you honestly not see the difference in how they apologized?

    Isiah W thinks Knight should have been fired. FOR WHAT?

    I don’t even care about the whole overblown Isiah W thing, I just think its stupid to think someone is racist because they clearly acknowledge he was acting like a jackass.

  27. Derrick says

    Honestly Wes, I dont see the difference, if we kept on attacking Jerry, he would apologize, over and over again and like a wounded animal, he would start saying any and everything he can to prove he isn’t a homophobe.
    I was one of the people who demanded Isaiah apologized, (something he couldn’t do initially because ABC told him not to), when he did, I demanded he get fired, when he did, I wanted more, it was when my partner asked me why I was worked up about it, I let it go. When I read through the blogs here and read how sensitive everyone is to Jerry, I realize I am as prejudiced as all of us here.
    Frankly, I dont blame Isaiah for wanting T.R fired, because T.R went on Ellen and lied that he heard him use the F word to him and that was a lie that helped propagate the debacle.
    I dont think anyone is racist for recognizing someone is a jackass, because I also believe isaiah is a jackass, but I believe its racist to easily believe the sincerety of a white man over a black man

  28. Wes says

    Okay well I guess I disagree. I dislike a whole lot of white people, in fact I don’t even consider a person’s color when measuring what I think of them.

    I don’t know that anything TR said was true or false, I just know that Isiah really didn’t come across as earnest in his apology to me.

    Why I admired Lewis’ apology: it was direct, and he OWNED it. He said “there is no excuse”. Isiah proceeded to list excuses…

    And for the record, I don’t demand apologies of anyone. As far as I’m concerned its their prerogative, I may not like them but its not my place to dictate what people think. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to find someone who clearly evades personal responsibility when making an apology equally credible as one who doesn’t.

  29. Joshua says

    Derrick….it really wasn’t the idea of if Isaiah’s apology was sincere. It was what he did AFTER the apology, he went on and made even more anti-homosexual remarks to interviewers and even on the Red Carpet at an awards show. It kind of made his apology come across as something he did to save his ass from being fired. I accepted(to myself) his apology, then I saw what else he was doing and got angry, then he claimed to have gone to sensitivity classes and still made homophobic remarks.

    Jerry Lewis is a very old man, who is very ill, he usually has to be in a wheelchair, he had been going strong for 18 hours(this didn’t include all the hours he was up and working to get things ready for the Telethon), he is a comedian and he said something that may or may not have been meant to be said, immediatly caught his own mistake(it’s there, in the tape of the show) and when it was all over apologised for his mistake, took FULL responsibility for it and blamed NO ONE else. And his statement about people who know him, knowing that he wouldn’t use that word viciously happens to be correct. He has always been a gay rights backer, with money and words.
    And you know what, fuck all of you nasty asses…..this guy, even if he didn’t give a rats ass about Gays is still a far better person that 98.9% of you…..he has worked for God knows how many years for MS and has raised over 1 BILLION dollars for research…..what the fuck have any of you haters done lately???

  30. Carl says

    Let me introduce the family. You remember Jesse the illiterate faggot, kike, nigger, chink, spic, dago, gook…

    (OMG, that just slipped out! You know, like it would for 99% of us—especially comedians and people who work long hours. That’s it, just like anyone that does good deeds, raises money. You know. No apology necessary but what the heck—if I offended someone. You know.)

    “I obviously made a bad choice of words. Everyone who knows me understands that I hold no prejudices in this regard…I accept responsibility for what I said. There are no excuses. I am sorry.”

  31. Dean says

    Incidentally- not that she NEEDS my defense- Whoopi Goldberg NEVER said that she excused M. Vick for the dogfighting incidents. What she said was…”We should look at the culture that makes this seem acceptable to some people. If we understand the cause THEN maybe we can stop it.” A big difference than accepting Vick.

    Word of advice… when you hear that “someone said so-and-so”, it’s best to actually see if you can find out from the actual person what they said… AND what they meant.

  32. Zekers Should Die says

    Shut da fuckin Zeke! I guess u all r just a buncha Zeke luvvin Zekebacks. Get the fuck outta here and suck some hard Zeke!