— Emily Cahn (@CahnEmily) February 24, 2014
In which I highlight tweets from around the area and analyze why they’re important.
Alec Baldwin has a little history in D.C. Specifically, with George Washington University. As many people know, Baldwin once attended the Foggy Bottom institution. As Emily Cahn points out, he was active in student government there, before heading off to NYU, where his acting career began. The full story of that little spat and subsequent non-election are linked above in the tweet, if you care about that.
But it’s a different link to the school that’s more concerning. Monday, New York Magazine released a manifesto in which he defended his behavior, which many have called bigoted over the years. In it, he blames everyone but himself for his own actions, which include various threats and name-calling to people of all sorts. And although he specifically apologized for using the word “queen” in a derogatory manner, his defense of another vulgar phrase is telling.
In saying that he didn’t call a photographer a slur that starts with the letter ‘F’, he insists he only called him another slur that I won’t repeat. He also tries to make a case for his own self-imposed sensitivity training, then proceeds to promptly describe a transgender person with a slur. In short, Baldwin at this point doesn’t even realize how far his own hate-speech has gone. He’s been accused of calling a man a “coon,” and at one point he was recorded insulting his daughter with pretty harsh language.
Why does this matter? Because Baldwin is on the short list to get an honorary doctorate at GWU. As The Hatchet reported in October, the former 30 Rock star fit the bill.
“Administrators, faculty and trustees can submit a name for consideration. The Board’s recommendations are sent to University President Steven Knapp, who has the final say. Formally, the recipients must meet two out of three criteria: a connection to GW, a commitment to public service or distinguished professional, intellectual, academic or creative success,” Maeve Tierney wrote.
Baldwin has a right to his own views, that kind of thinking is not something the university should be complicit in by not only honoring him, but giving him another chance to take a stage. From a PR standpoint, never mind a compassion one, Baldwin should be removed from that short list.
Don’t forget, we’re also talking about a school where it’s the believed the first ever college basketball player to come out as transgender attended. You may remember Kye Allums, the Colonials’ women’s basketball player who identifies as a man. In 2010, he got a lot of love from the GWU community. “In a statement released by the university, GW coach Mike Bozeman said, “The George Washington University women’s basketball program, including myself, support Kye’s right to make this decision,'” The Post’s Kathy Orton reported then.
Two years ago, protesters demonstrated against Mexican businessman Carlos Slim, who received an honorary doctorate. It was tame, and as someone who attended the graduation ceremony as spectator, I barely knew the protestors were there until I left. Somehow I think Baldwin backlash might be more significant. Then again, a lot of people like his work. But it’s a conundrum easily solved for a university that really doesn’t need the negative press.
Just don’t give it to him.