Have You Ever Been So Mad You Turned Racist? Examining the Celebrity Freakout

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Have You Ever Been So Mad You Turned Racist? Examining the Celebrity Freakout

By Courtney Enlow | Think Pieces | November 18, 2013 | Comments ()


We all find ourselves in frustrating situations from time to time. For celebrities, these frustrating times are usually quite public. As we are generally privy to the reactions of famous people when dealing with moments of struggle, can we judge their personalities by their responses in times of relative crisis? Can you judge anyone’s personalities in times of crisis?

There have been several times in my life when I’ve gotten so mad that I’ve said things I didn’t mean to say. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t mean them. For many of us, it’s in these truly angry, vulnerable moments when we display our most wretched truths.

So, for people, famous and otherwise, who blast hatespeak when driven past the edge of their filters, wouldn’t it stand to reason *that’s* the real them?

If so, we can assume Zach Braff is the kind of asshole who attacks children. If so, we can assume Mel Gibson is horrifically misogynist nazi-sympathizer. And, if so, everytime Alec Baldwin gets pissed, he shows us he’s a violent racist and homophobe, having both definitely and allegedly referred to photographers as a growing variety of racist and homophobic epithets. His daughter Ireland (you may know her as Thoughtless Little Pig) took to Twitter over the weekend in defense of her father, saying “My dad is far from a homophobe or racist.” But, if those words exist anywhere near his tongue, it would appear that the distance isn’t quite as great as Ireland would want us to believe.

The issue with Baldwin is that people like him, so we keep forgiving him. But, we shouldn’t. 30 Rock is over so I think we can be done here. Yes, photographers suck. It’s terrible that these people have to live their lives in that way, forever stalked. But is anything so terrible that it turns you homophobic? Have you ever been so drunk or high that you blamed the Jews for all the wars or decided you hate black people?

My guess is no. My guess is if that has happened, that’s just who you are, and you fight showing it until your faculties are rendered out of order and you can’t stop yourself. And you probably hate it about yourself, or else you’d say that shit all the time.

But maybe I’m wrong. So, tell me. Do you think it’s possible to spew hatespeak without actually being a hateful person? I’m genuinely curious.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • oilybohunk7

    If I'm REALLY angry anything I say sort of comes out as gibberish, no slurs. Sort of like "Yeah, well, your head has the shell on it..."

  • linnyloo

    I'm oddly reminded of the time I went on an extended rant against Saddam Hussein in my elementary school journal, because my gym teacher was serving in the Gulf War, and I had picked up just enough bits and pieces to believe that Saddam would use weapons of mass destruction if pushed -- which I was afraid of. Not a super complex understanding of international politics, mind -- I was 10. But I was a serious and polite kid without an extensive stable of bad words to fall back on, so when I got very angry at him, I tried to use what language I had -- at one point, I actually put that he was the opposite of a gentleman, and that if someone was going to play a game against him, he would probably cheat. It was all sort of hilarious when I look back at it, because I was so very serious about it.

    Anyways. Falling back on using slurs in a rant is stupid, hurtful, lazy, and certainly not gentleman-like.

  • Ben

    I'm 26, in school we called each other fa**ot all the time without ever really meaning it as a gay slur. It was just something you called you're mate when he was being a dick. It's only fairly recently, that the lines between fa**ot and horrible slur have really started to kick in. I imagine it would be even worse as you get older. I still have to kind of bite my tounge around the word cause I like swearing and it's never really had that kind of connotation growing up.

    Like he's what, 40 or so? So for 30 years fa**ot hasn't really been that bad a thing to call someone in society and never really had that kind of super offensive connotation to it. But in the past 10 years it's started to rightfully gain that kind of connotaion. But if you're someone who gets upset and screams abuse at someone frequently enough that it's part of you're regular lexicon
    it's not the kind of thing you can change over night.

    I think that's were the huge difference in calling someone a ni**er and a fa**ot is. For pretty much everyone alive, ni**er has always been a horrible offensive slur.

  • John G.

    Alec Baldwin would have lived a very hard life to look like he does and be 40. He's 55.

  • Ben

    In my defense, I'm really bad at guessing ages.

  • Almighty Dog

    Consider that he's old enough to remember a time when you could call someone a gay epithet without even knowing one gay person - or what epithet means. Perhaps he is just regressing to the simpler times of his youth

  • barcia

    I'm sure lots of people will say that, no, they've never ever used a racist or homophobic term but will admit to calling a woman who pisses them off a b*tch or c*nt or used p*ssy or even girl(s) to put down a man. Same same but different?

  • stella

    No, I have not ever been so angry that I turned racist as a matter of fact.

  • FrayedMachine

    If the most hurtful thing that you can think of when you're angry is to refer to specific groups of people in a derogatory way ... I'm going to go ahead and say you likely have more than just a problem with throwing a public fit.

  • e jerry powell

    I said it. I need say no more.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    I tend to think the man has an anger management problem, first and foremost. When he is angry does he go to the worst insults he can find? I don't know. But he has been getting a pass for his verbal outbursts for years now and it needs to stop.He needs to deal with his issues in a real way, and not in a "Chris Brown going to rehab after punching a guy" kinda way.

    *I will now put Ayanla Vanzant back into the box*

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Ireland Baldwin tweeted that "For someone who has battled with anger management issues, my dad has grown tremendously."
    What does that mean? In the past he would have gutted them, hung them in the woods and then used a slur?

  • Maguita NYC

    It is scary to think of what his daughter is referring to, and how badly he used to lose control.

    That being said, reading that child's tweet, I feel a lot more sympathy for Kim Basinger who for years had tried to keep her daughter away from Alec. Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt he loves his daughter; But sometimes, a parent's love is just not enough to grow up in a happy healthy environment.

  • NateMan

    Ain't that the truth.

  • Belphebe

    I threaten to behead the cat a lot especially at 2 in the morning when she is whining to go outside (even though she is not allowed outside!) I can feel the rage growing as I type this-fucking cat.

    When I was younger I used to have so little control over my temper, I would almost black-out. I am not a violent person, but I would say vile things designed to crush the other person's heart. I was so mean, but there were lines I didn't cross. I didn't use the n word or the f word, but called women the c word and body-shamed and bullied. If you only know me as I am now, you would be shocked at how horrible I was. But I like to think that the real me is the one that has matured and learned to deal with strong emotions in a constructive manner. Other than the cat. That fucking cat.

  • NateMan

    Confession time: What with having grown up Redneck, these phrases are still in my head. And when I get absolutely furious... Sometimes they want to come out. I don't like that they do, and I wish they'd go away, but they're still there. Part of me WANTS to use them. But I manage to keep it under control. And if I can, anyone else should be able to as well. Because pillar of strength I ain't.

  • lilianna28

    I think we're leaving out a lot of what might be a conditioned response in some areas. You can't grow up being told something and then expect to have every piece of the fabric of your being reject those words / phrases even if you have grown to know they are bullshit.

  • Paddington

    I feel like if you were constantly stalked and harassed that it might make you liable to say anything to the person offending you, especially when no one seems to care (and some seem to delight) in your near constant victimization. Alec Baldwin grabbed his privilege because he felt powerless. Doesn't make it right, doesn't make it any less than what it is (racist and homophobic) but it does add a layer of context (and this isn't a crime that can be explained by existing inequalities but our weirdness surrounding celebrity) which makes me not terribly upset over it.

  • Almighty Dog

    When I really want to insult someone, I don't go for what I think is the most offensive, I go for what I think my target will find most offensive. So apparently Alec thinks photographers hate gay people.

  • John G.

    It's hard to say what anyone's really feeling in their heart. So often, a person who is angry and reaching for an effective insult will turn to the kind of power inherent in inequalities among races and gender, because the insult will pack more power. When you really want to hurt someone, using any leverage that your race, gender, wealth or just good health gives you is often tempting. It's something they can't throw back at you. It's a checkmate.

    It only has the unfortunate side effect of making you a terrible person.

  • Eva

    The thing for me is, if I am trying to be hurtful, I don't go to a place of telling a person they are gay or some derogatory term referring to another race, because I don't find being gay or another race to be inherently bad or distasteful. To me it wouldn't be an insult at all to call someone a word that represents things that I don't even find to be negative. If I am trying to be hurtful I'll go after something personal about their character, or some horrible action that I know they've committed. So no, I think that if being gay or jewish or black or mexican or whatever are things you go to to insult someone, that's because YOU think of them as actually being insults. Which means, yes, you probably are a racist/homophobe.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I think it's more if you know that your target will be upset by the slur - and the provocative nature of the words makes it very clear you intend to hurt the target, even if the target doesn't personally find them offensive or hurtful.

  • Eva

    I guess some might make themselves look that stupid/bigoted/racist just to hurt someone else, but it wouldn't occur to me personally to compare someone to something that I don't even find insulting if my goal is to hurt them.

  • I would have to agree with those giving Alec Baldwin even odds to be a rage addict OR a bigot (possibly both). When you're boiling over and just looking for a way - any way - to hurt someone, you go for the sharpest knife in the drawer. It doesn't necessarily mean you specifically hate gay people or black people. It means you're an asshole with insufficient control of your emotions and no regard for the effect your words have on others.

    That being said, I've said some pretty mean, venomous, go-for-the-throat stuff when at my worst, but even then, I can't imagine hurling the words Baldwin used. Not because I'm better, but because I've been taught there are places you JUST DON'T GO... words you instinctively recoil from, no matter what else you're feeling. So if those words are on Baldwin's "under extreme duress" list, maybe it IS more indicative than he'd like us to think.

  • Jessie Soto

    "Go fuck yourself" is my go to phrase when someone pisses me off (I actually used that on my brother yesterday and it didn't go down well, but in my defense he deserved it). But even at my angriest--where I throw stuff, punch inanimate objects, scream, and the Angelina Jolie vein in my forehead looks like it's going to pop out, I've never though of punching children, or saying something homophobic or racist. There are lines you just don't cross, whether you're angry or not. Being angry when you say it doesn't excuse it--you just look like an asshole for blaming your temper and not owning up to a fundamental personality failing like that.

  • Ben

    I can't think of a time that I have said something hate based or homophobic in anger. Maybe when I was young and dumb. I tend to avoid using those terms in anger kind of because I don't find them very creative or effective. Especially because I don't get angry at people over their race or perceived sexuality.

    That said, I occasionally have inappropriate moments where I laugh at a jokes based off stereotypes.

  • AvaLehra

    What's that Maya Angelou quote? I know I'm probably misquoting but the gist is, "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them."

  • kimberleybear

    I can have a pretty towering temper sometimes (although you would likely never know, as I tend to be fairly non-confrontational as a person). But even at my nastiest, the voice of which nobody has ever heard because it exists solely in my own head, even THEN, when there is NOBODY to hear me but me, I have never said anything racist or homophobic. Ever. It's not that those words aren't in my vocabulary, because I know them and what they mean. It's just that it never, ever occurs to me to use them directed at anybody, whether in the privacy of my own head or otherwise. I just don't. And it's not a struggle to avoid them, either. I. Just. Don't. It's not who I am or how I think, so it doesn't matter how non-existent my inhibitions are, be it through alcohol or rage or anything else. I'm no saint, by any stretch, but those words are just unacceptable, and there's nothing I can think of that would cause me to use them in lieu of, say, reporting you to the police if you did something that heinous.

  • Parsnip

    I personally wouldn't be able to separate the person from the hateful words, and I wouldn't want such negativity and hatefulness in my life. There are plenty of angry words available, that can be used in a variety of ways, to get a point across without having to resort to hatespeak.

  • Naye

    Here's the thing. i don't believe Alec just because he has a history. But I know if I'm gonna lose it I'm aiming for the gut. I'm going to say anything that I think has the remotest chance of hurting your feelings even if it's the lowest of the low to say. Cuz hey, at that point, you're the enemy. And yes that is hateful. But it's not specifically racist, or homophobic. It's really, really, hateful. And I am ashamed of occasionally being hateful. But my hate is only directed at one specific person. And I've only had the opportunity once or twice.

  • JJ

    Bottom line, if the darkest, most vitriolic place your mind goes to in order to inflict the maximum pain, aka "aiming for the gut," is a slur, then it is both hateful AND racist or homophobic. Because what you're trying to do is denigrate your "enemy" by referring to them as things that shouldn't be considered insulting but in fact are by racists and homophobes, and you have to tap into that same ignorance.

    I'm not saying people don't get angry or that I don't say things that I regret or am ashamed of. I'm saying that people go there because deep down they still feel like those insults are, in fact, insulting.

  • Naye

    I've had my mind go darker places than just what words I would say. I've had a few very terrible revenge fantasies, but ultimately I'm not that kind of psycho. I see what you're saying I just dont know if it applies to every case where a person is upset. BUT if it is every case where a person is upset that they go to that degenerate of a place they probably have more than a few issues.

  • Popeyesnopes

    Or because you live in the world and know that racist and homophobic slurs have currency. They don't have to mean much to you to have meaning.

  • JJ

    Yes, they do have meaning and weight, but that's my point. The problem is that they have currency and feeding into that doesn't make a person exempt from being racist or homophobic.

  • Maguita NYC

    You can still go for the gut without being either racist or homophobic. When you know someone deeply, you know how to go for the jugular and play on their doubts and fears. Yet still, those are quite far from vomiting homophobic or xenophobic slurs.

    A slur or a put-down could still be quite hateful and effective without it being bigoted.

  • competitivenonfiction

    "Can you judge anyone’s personalities in times of crisis?" Fuck yes! If you're someone who holds it together, gets the job done, and acts with integrity in crisis, then I want to know you. If you're someone who starts blaming people and spouting bigoted bullshit, then I don't. If you're someone who giggles hysterically, then we probably shouldn't be friends because it's bad enough to have one person behaving like a lunatic in a crisis.

  • Maguita NYC

    Very true. Often times I've learned more about a person's true nature when under duress, and how truly they hold on to personal values. Most people I know cuss, I relish in it when extremely mad, but to go as far as spewing with conviction and rage homophobic slurs, or blaming all wars on one religion, or denying all responsibility and putting your lack of control and integrity on someone else, says too much about who you truly are.

    There is also place and time: yes oddly when at work you would never allow yourself to lose your temper, but when you're home or surrounded by friends you allow yourself to let go. And how far you let go exposes your hidden fears and yes, your beliefs in their most basic form.

  • PDamian

    ... I've learned more about a person's true nature when under duress, and how truly they hold on to personal values.

    So true, so true. My father used to harsh on me when I was in college (he never went, and resented me and my sisters for going), telling me that I was too stupid to finish, that I was wasting my cash on tuition and books I probably didn't understand anyways, etc., etc. He was pretty successful financially, but refused to pay for our college educations, saying he wasn't about to throw money away so we could go party and get pregnant. To this day, I don't use racial or sex-based insults, but my go-to slurs tend to be words like "moron," "idiot," "shite-for-brains," and so forth. Our slurs are indicative of our inner fears and values.

  • Maguita NYC

    Not only are they indicative of the environment one grew up in, but often times, the environment they grew OUT of as well.

    Many of my friends grew up in very racist environments, we're talking white supremacist, and the moment they went away to college and learned about the world and the value of a human life, they've changed dramatically and most notably in how they get mad: Under no circumstance would you hear them spew racist slurs. No way.

    Why? Because it reminds them too much of the ugly and hateful environment they grew up in, and would rather self-immolate than sound in any way like a xenophobic bigot.

  • Rebecca Hachmyer

    "Our slurs are indicative of our inner fears and values"

    That is a really interesting thing to think about. I wonder if our minds seek out the words to which we are most sensitive and find the most reprehensible when consumed by anger *because* we grew up learning/knowing that they were reprehensible. Like using them somehow helps to convey exactly how frustrated/terrible/out of control we feel.

    If we say something in anger because we know in our hearts that it is "the worst thing you can call someone," is that better or worse than-- or equal to-- using the words in casual conversation?

  • Uriah_Creep

    How sad it is when our parents, who should be our biggest fans and boosters, seek to put us down. It makes me realise yet again how lucky I was to have parents who encouraged us to use our talents to better ourselves.

  • sanity fair

    I've said some pretty wretched things when I've been pissed off. I told my mom to "Fuck off." Once. And then ran to my room (I was 16) because I sure it would lead to an understandable slap across the face. I felt guilty for weeks, even though I apologized an hour later.

    Actually, that expression seems to be my go-to when I'm really angry. That or "you piece of shit" which my fiance finds endlessly hilarious. My brain has never gone to a biased place when it comes to words of rage or when I'm inebriated. But then, I find those words abhorrent in my every day life, so I really think there is something to the idea of one's defenses being down letting out all of their inner "truthiness."

  • Aaron Schulz

    Yeah, go fuck yourself is my go to, that or just telling them to die in terrible ways, and i really dont like it, but race and such i dont go for.

  • Feralhousecat

    Who you are at your worst is still who you are.

  • Idle Primate

    One aspect of who you are.

  • Anthony Hoffman

    Because, quite frankly, it's you at your most uninhibited and unfiltered.

  • Kristen Mc

    This whole incident makes me think of this bit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.... Alec Baldwin did say he wasn't saying that specific word, rather the word "fathead". I watched, and I can't tell either way. I'm inclined to believe the former, mostly because who says fathead anymore?

  • dizzylucy

    I got so mad last week I called my cat an f-ing bitch, but no, even in a rage, my brain has never gone...there.
    The more Alec rages, the more paparazzi are going to follow and harass him in hopes of getting the shot.

  • oilybohunk7

    You should have heard the things I yelled at my cat in the dead of the night, when my power was out and my house was eerily quiet save for the sound of him cleaning himself right up next to me on the bed. The. Entire. Night. I didn't use any slurs though.

  • Don't be too hard on yourself. I love my Stabby Nachos, I do. But he's a fucking bitch most of the time.

  • Like I said last week, when you're angry and looking to insult, you're not going to be thinking of something that's safe. You're going to be going for the most insulting thing you can imagine.

    That said, if you are constantly displaying anti-social/angry behavior, then it clearly means you have some sort of serious problem. Or are a gigantic douchenozzle. Either way, polite society doesn't need you. Go get it taken care of, you angry fuck.

  • competitivenonfiction

    This is a good point. If, to you, the most insulting thing is to call someone a derogatory term for gay or black, then you're a piece of shit. You just are.

  • Gere Lewis

    I don't think it is always the most insulting thing a person can think of, I think that a lot of people go for the most hurtful thing they can think of. If you are talking to someone of another race, saying something racist to them is the easiest way to hurt. Same goes with a gay person and a homophobic comment. I am not saying that it is right by any stretch, but I also don't think it makes for a bad person. I think it means that the person saying these hateful, hurtful things, probably needs to see a mental health professional about his/her anger issues.

  • Bryan

    I disagree. There are plenty of times I get really angry, but there are lines that are just not crossed. And it frankly doesn't occur to me to use certain slurs. I think the fact that a person is willing to sink to those depths out of mere spite shows their overall character.

  • competitivenonfiction

    I agree that the person saying these things needs help, and I'm sure that anger management would be beneficial, but I don't think it would help solve the whole problem. You don't find it in yourself to say something racist just to hurt someone if that kind of thing doesn't cross your mind, and that fact that you've taken it further and weaponized it, is indicative of something even uglier than anger.

  • Very true.

  • I was a piece of shit when I was 15. No excuses. But I do like to think I'm not the same piece of shit now that I'm 33.

  • emmalita

    That's called growth and maturity. We are capable of unlearning the ugly things we learned as children. Sadly, not everyone does it.

  • Anthony Hoffman

    Darp. But he's so funny on SNL! Darp. Darp. You know that little PR scrub down is coming from Lorne soon. (Being cynical is fun!!!! Monday at work!!!)

  • Jillian

    I remember when they aired the Zach Braff Punk'D. That was a 12 year old actor who looked like he was 10. It's was hard to watch and I remember thinking that it was fake. I was amazed to find out later that he actually did it and that it was a worse beating than what they initially aired. It wasn't even dark and there was no mistaking this kid for a teenager. Zach Braff is literally the kid of guy who will beat a child because his shiny new sports car was defaced. But hey, he was so nice on Scrubs.

  • stella

    Jesus. Was the kid ok?

  • How had I never, ever heard about this?

  • Aaron Schulz

    They did a pretty good job of downplaying what happened on the episode and just sort of showed him holding the kid by the front of the shirt, but him and donald faison went bananas on that kid.

  • eveeve

    I only recently heard about it. It's really sad this story was buried.

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