("Ish" being online shorthand for, you know, excrement.)
Well, Martin's offhand comment may as well have been a declaration of war to GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which rapidly tweeted back that Advocates of gay bashing have no place at CNN.
Martin, who never met a debate he didn't want to smack the ish out of, went on to tweet that GLAAD had it all wrong, that he wasn't talking about men, but soccer fans in general. (So what if he used the word dude?)
You could still argue that Martin's comment was made in the spirit of game-time smack talk - if he hadn't tweeted earlier: Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass
Well, GLAAD wasn't having it. By midweek, the maelstrom created by the controversy and Martin's kinda-sorta apologies forced CNN's hand. Calling Martin's tweets "regrettable and offensive," the cable news behemoth announced that its straight-talking commentator would "not be appearing on our air for the time being."
While CNN may have shown inconsistency in the way it divvies out punishment (the network chose not to suspend conservative commentator Dana Loesch, who said she would have joined in with U.S. Marines who urinated on dead Afghans), its rationale was right on.
Civil rights advocate
The thing is, you can't advocate for civil rights, as Martin has done, on one side of your mouth and casually gay-bash on the other. Doesn't matter whether he intended the tweet to be homophobic or not.
A slur does not require intent for its recipients to interpret it as such. As an influential journalist and commentator who plies his craft on a slew of media platforms, Martin has a responsibility to police his public words.
On Thursday, Martin and GLAAD seemed to have come to an uneasy detente, each tweeting they looked forward to meeting and "having a productive dialogue."
Which is all good, of course.
For its part, the National Association of Black Journalists, finding itself in an awkward position of criticizing a former board member, issued a statement saying "NABJ does not support any commentary in any medium that is insensitive or offensive."
Martin's suspension presents a "teachable moment," NABJ president Gregory H. Lee Jr. said.
But more than that, I hope the controversy offers us a talkable moment. I hope it will allow African Americans to talk about the homophobia we have allowed to run rampant in our community.
I'm talking about the offhand, disparaging comments about gays and lesbians that everybody accepts as barbershop humor. The "don't ask, don't tell" hypocrisy from the pulpit. The unspoken revulsion toward gay couples that divides and conquers.
If we really claim to be sensitive to the oppressed because of our history of oppression, we've got to walk the walk.
Not to mention talk the talk. No matter what side of the debate you're on, we need an honest discussion - one that doesn't include tacit tweets condoning violence.
Contact Annette John-Hall at 215-854-4986, Ajohnhall@phillynews.com, or @Annettejh on Twitter.