Alec Baldwin has always had a habit of making controversial comments, even before Twitter and Words with Friends. In 1998, in the midst of the GOP-led impeachment hearings against a philandering President Clinton, Baldwin joked to Conan O'Brien that in other countries Henry Hyde, the Republican Rep. who led the anti-Clinton charge, "would be stoned to death" for tearing the country apart.
The actor was later forced to apologize. Since then he has had to explain himself for a number of other incidents: he apologized for for lewd comments made to his teenage daughter in 2007; he was forced to justify comments made about suicide in 2010; and most recently, June 27, he had to turn contrite over a Twitter rant against George Stark, a British journalist who claimed Baldwin's wife had been texting during James Gandolfini's funeral.
In reaction to that report, Baldwin called Stark a "lying little bitch" and a "toxic little queen." Baldwin later told GLAAD that he wasn't trying to smear Stark's sexuality. Instead, he said, "a 'queen' to me has a different meaning ... It doesn't have any necessarily sexual connotations ... those are people who think the rules don't apply to them." Other than small news blips when it happened and when he apologized, Baldwin appears to have gotten off mostly scot-free. He hasn't been as roundly criticized as other actors who have made similar comments. (Isaiah Washington comes to mind.)
There was such a dearth of criticism that Anderson Cooper tweeted, "Why does#AlecBaldwin get a pass when he uses gay slurs? If a conservative talked of beating up a 'queen' they would be vilified." That's probably true.
If nothing else, Baldwin is a liberal. For example, he fights animal cruelty, and has worked with PeTA and Save the Manatees. He supports the arts and he sits on the board for People For the American Way, a group dedicated to "making the promise of America real for every American." In terms of LGBT equality, Baldwin lent his name to the marriage equality movement in New York State. Was that why so few criticized Baldwin for the "little queen" rant? And how will those people react now that Baldwin's under conservative attack?
Arriving a bit late to pull off convincing outrage, gay conservative activist Jimmy LaSalvia and a few other right wingers are trying to bait Capital One into dropping Baldwin as a spokesman. "We urge all Americans to ask themselves, 'What's in your wallet?' We hope they will reject Alec Baldwin's homophobia by cutting up those Capital One cards in their wallets," said LaSalvia, trying to turn the company's catchphrase against it.
And John Hawkins, a writer at the ideological mouthpiece that is Right Wing News, told similarly conservative Breitbart.com, "It's still a free country and Alec Baldwin can do as much gay bashing as he likes on Twitter, but it's hard to understand why Capital One would choose to publicly condone his homophobia by keeping Baldwin on as its spokesman." Capital One has not commented on this cynical and transparent protest, nor has Baldwin, but liberals are probably left wondering how and if they can defend one of their own for something that seems indefensible.