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March 26, 2011

Michael Cole apologizes for using gay slur on Twitter

WWE announcer/heel personality Michael Cole directed a gay slur at fellow announcer Josh Matthews on Twitter earlier today, and then issued an apology a short while later.

After tweeting a single word – “faggot” – to Matthews, Cole – who plays up his heel character on Twitter – subsequently deleted it and apologized.

“I apologize to any and all who were offended by my tweet toward young Josh Mathews,” Cole wrote. “It was obviously not meant the way it was taken.”

Regardless of Cole’s intent, it was clearly poor judgment on his part – and his timing couldn’t have been worse.

It was just a little over a week ago that WWE, responding to The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) taking issue with what it deemed “homophobic taunts” by John Cena on WWE television, announced that it was teaming with the organization in an anti-bullying campaign.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 3:07 PM | | Comments (40)


OMG seriously,
Next up apologizing for making your mom jokes
its not really that big of a deal is it?
How many times as a kid ( mid 80s ) did
we use that word and guess what , our feelings were not hurt and we went on with life

One would think that Cole would be a little more understanding about this sort of thing after that incident with Heidenreich on Smackdown a few years back. ;)

He didn't even apologise for saying it.. He was just sorry that people found it offensive.

"It was obviously not meant the way it was taken????" Are you kidding me?

This is just another example of how prevalent anti-gay slurs have become in our society. Had Michael Cole used the "N-word" or a slur against a religious group, his very career would be in jeopardy. As it is, his hollow apology will be enough for his peers, the media, and ultimately, the WWE to give him a pass. How sad! I think the part that bothers me most is the he must believe that there is an acceptable way to use that word. For the record, there is NOT.

As for me, the WWE has lost a viewer.

Did he get deleted? I can't find his account...

RESPONSE FROM KE: No, @MichaelCole is still there,

Yeah how can you not take "faggot" wrong? How did he mean it? Was he really calling young Matthews a bundle of wood? Yeah, not buying that. Way to take your character too seriously Cole.

Kevin, have you ever watched the documentary "Wrestling with Manhood?" It's pretty good at discussing the heterosexism, misogyny, and bullying in pro wrestling. One problem with it is that it tends to blame wrestling instead of the systemic problems. Like when people blame Hip Hop for sex and violence.

RESPONSE FROM KE: Haven't seen it, but it sounds interesting.

They're too close to his WM feud with Lawler ending to punish him now, but I'd certainly hope WWE would publicly suspend Cole for at least a month, I'd say a week or two would suffice until he pulled the "the way it was intended" card, so its the public that misunderstood using "f*ggot" as an insult?

This is bound to happen when wrestling personalities & social media mix, but I'm really shocked that a guy like Cole who comes from one of the best media schools in the country would be the guy to do it.

Whoa. I'm sorry, but there's no excuse for that. It's not like he slipped a subtle gay reference into a sentence, he just flat out used a slur against a guy. Well, he's sure as heck not going over at WrestleMania now.

Cole is a jerk. And not a good heel jerk - just a horrible, annoying, jerk. And now, we know - a homophobe too.

First the comments on Raw about Jerry Lawler's late mother, and now this. Cole seriously needs to tone it down or drop this heel persona altogether. Too much of what he does is un-entertaining or in bad taste.

In my opinion, the mistake Cole made was making this comment on twitter, where the line between Michael Cole the individual and Michael Cole the kayfabe heel is much harder to make clear. Kev, you said that he often plays up his heel role on the twitter, so I'll give the benefit of the doubt and assume he was saying it in that voice. Doing so was a mistake, but possibly an innocent one on his part. Had he made this comment on television (though maybe not on a PG show) when he was clearly in character, I for one would have no problem with it. If a kid is going to associate this word with what they see on tv, I'd like them to see it said by someone who is immediately booed by 20,000 people.

OMG Mark Nelson, seriously! You really don't see what's wrong with that word and why it's offensive. Guess what? It's not the '80s! A lot of people used the N-word in the 50's and 60's (and beyond) and I'm pretty sure they didn't take offense to it either. You know why? Because they didn't know any better or they didn't care. Or, they weren't black and had no negative connection to it. I'm just taking a wild guess that you were not a scared, anxious, persecuted, lonely, bullied, confused young gay boy in the 80s. From the sound of it, you may not even have a connection to anyone who happens to be gay or lesbian. Otherwise, you wouldn't have dismissively rejected the idea of it being offensive so cavalierly. I mean are you serious? The word Michael Cole used is absolutely a horrible, offensive insult. With the progression of society towards mainstream acceptance of gay and lesbian individuals, it's even worse. Cole was stupid and offensive. Plain and simple.

David: The mistake Cole made...was making it at all. Twitter or no twitter.

Immediately after WM (because its not fair to Jerry Lawler or Jack Swagger) he should be suspended. I don't care if its for 1 week or 1 month or whatever. For WWE's #1 announcer to say that is...just horrible.

And I quote
"OMG seriously,
Next up apologizing for making your mom jokes
its not really that big of a deal is it?
How many times as a kid ( mid 80s ) did
we use that word and guess what , our feelings were not hurt and we went on with life "

Posted by: Mark Nelson | March 26, 2011 3:28 PM

A: Mr.Nelson YES IT REALLY IS THAT BIG OF A DEAL, in fact it is deemed profanity on even standing with f@$#,etc though terribly worse.

B: Yes people did go on with life,what other choice did they have? And yes feelings were most definitely hurt,and lastly Michael Cole is not a "kid" it is not the 80's (as if that mattered) and again it is not only a big deal,it is a HUGE DEAL. If this a$$clown (as Jericho would quickly say) had said this during Raw,Smackdown,in an interview,anywhere else but twitter his can would be fired immediately,,for you to think any differently is ridiculous.
Utter nonsense,racist and horribly rude are the first things that come to mind. Now apparently he is a homophobe as well,what a perfectly well rounded individual Mr.Cole has turned out to be now that his head is full of ego after Vince gave him his new role of rube/heal commentator. This is not the first time he has referenced this exact type of thing towards Josh,first time he was dumb enough to out and out say it but he has come dangerously close many,many times before. I agree with some others, it is too close to suspend him now,not because of Cole but because of the fans that can't wait to see "The King" get even after his other beneath contempt and taste comments about the death of his Mother.But once Wrestlemania is over he needs to be put on the shelf immediately for at least a month for this tweet,made to publicly apologize,and I mean a real apology not that BS of a statement that he made,and frankly I think he should be forced in that time to undergo something equivalent to a workplace course in sexual harassment for this racist and insensitive remark. One's true colors often come out behind the anonymity of face book,twitter and internet comments and no apology will truly ever clear that slate,it is what it is Cole,and unfortunately you are what you are, hopefully you can grow up and become more sensitive to others,your words have no place in the court of public opinion,bet Linda is real happy to hear about this one,bet that plays put real good if she tries to run for office again eh?Personally I believe we all should be afforded a second chance to right a wrong,but there is another side that knows any adult should know that this was a fire able offense and he should be feeling damn lucky for where he works,name me another network that would allow this and not fire him? And yes WWE may not be a network,but they are certainly a media giant and close enough.Be nice to see Vince let Jerry shoot on Cole,and even nicer to have an angle that involve Swagger shooting on him as well,perhaps that would be true justice,but it will never happen,where's Chris Kanyon and Orlando Jordon when you need them.

It sound like Cole ego is getting the best of him i don't think WWE will suspend him before WM but they probably gave him warning if crosses the line again he will be suspended i think now he will loose his match .

your mama so fat, every time her beeper goes off- everyone say
"watch out,she's backing up"

Look, some groups of people let taunting roll off their backs as part of the game while others are exceptionally thin skinned about it. It's very clear that activists in the gay community are very uncomfortable being a part of the crowd that busts chops based on stereotypes for fun and laughs and it's also clear that they take such things so seriously, that they will attempt to ruin a person's career over it.

I highly recommend that everyone refrain from including the gay community in their jokes as the gay community finds it offensive. Frankly, whether it's gays or any other homogenous group of people, if they are that thin skinned, I avoid associating with them if I can help it. I hate walking on egg shells around a group of people with a chip on their shoulders.

When I was in high school, the football coach would say "that was a fag hit" or a "fag play," and he explained that he didn't mean it as an anti-gay slur, just that it was a weak hit or weak play. I can understand how this would be an unsatisfactory explanation for some people, but my point is that not everyone who uses that word means it maliciously.

the only reason cole is not fired or because of his Big wrestlemania match with lawler.

Kevin , how would WWE have responded if that wasnt the case??

@Jeremy W: I agree that it's offensive. But if the heels can't be offensive, what makes them the bad guys? Being a homophobe is not a good thing, which makes it okay for a CHARACTER on a show. Again, twitter was not a good venue, even if Cole was attempting to be in character, but I don't have a problem with the bad guy saying bad things. That's what makes him the bad guy.

On the other hand, I think a face should never say something like this, and I'm glad WWE is pulling Cena away from using these kinds of jokes.

And some people wonder why the WWE is looked upon with disdain by many?

If the WWE can't take action against a proven idiot, who has to apologize 'too soon' after another idiotic statement, you wonder why many people look upon the WWE with disdain?

There used to be a name that Irish were called, until they let everyone know they took serious offense to it. Same with the Germans. Italians. English. Jews. African-Americans.

To the GLBT community, calling someone a 'faggot' (thinking it is not considered offensive) is fighting words, and in the same category as any and all of the above.

The day the WWE disappears from existence will be at least one day too late.

Little history in case people aren't familiar with WHY the term f***ot is so offensive:

"Fagot" refers to a bundle of sticks used for kindling wood - this much we all know.

The reason the term is now a slur referencing homosexuals is that during the times of witch burnings in England and America they weren't just burning witches, they were burning anyone suspected of being gay. Except gay people were considered to be even LESS human than witches and thus not deserving of standing on the stake.

Gay people were thrown into the piles of wood below the witches with the rest of the "kindling".

Hence the origin term resulting in a horribly offensive homosexual slur in America, and a cigarette in England.

So next time you wonder what the "big deal" is about calling someone a "f*g", just remember where the word comes from and the level of absolute disregard for human life that's associated with it.

I would argue heavily that the term f*ggot is far more offensive than the word n*gger simply because the N-word is really just a slangy way of saying "negro" that acquired a negative connotation over time.
Whereas the word f*ggot literally references the method by which they were murdered.

Cole is a brainless puke, pure & simple. Todd Pettengill was Gordon Solie compared to Cole, and Pettengill never looked continuously constipated, as Cole always does.

we all know Cole is going to lose to Jerry next week anyway, so this will be the punishment for Cole.

I didn't even know that he had Twitter. :/

Maybe he just asked if he wanted a

I am a gay liberal! And I am pretty DAMNED PROD of it!
Mr. Cole is no longer human to me! He is a hurtful monster who should suffer severe punishment for the rest of his miserable life!
He should be FIRED, BLACKBALLED, and left to starve on the streets!
If it were up to me, I would have him hanged and shot in public!
It would make it easier to punish monsters like Mr. Cole!
There is no telling how many people he has hurt with his comments!

"I am a gay liberal...
[Cole] should be FIRED, BLACKBALLED, and left to starve on the streets!
If it were up to me, I would have him hanged and shot in public!

Gay - perhaps
Liberal - no

That's some pretty obvious trolling Jonathan.

Cole is taking things too far. He is getting too caught up in his character and he needs to realise he's not a wrestler and he's going to be gone in six months. It's cheap heat. No talent there at all.

Randy, please do separate yourself from people that get offended by racial & homophobic slurs. We'd really appreciate it too.

I would call myself a pretty left-wing liberal, but there's a line. Cole is playing a heel character; a bad guy people aren't meant to like or agree with, so a villain making a comment like this should not be taken at literal value.

But that then brings up the issue of social networks, or on the larger extent, whether Cole is in fact playing a character or not when online. As we know many wrestlers (Kevin Nash for example) will use social networking for personal use, not in character. But then again someone like John Cena will use Twitter to reinforce his character. Even WWE has used the internet to make a story look real - think Jeff Hardy found collapsed at the bottom of some stairs...

Of course "faggot" is not a word that should ever be used in normal day conversation...but for a heel in the WWE? I think it's fair game if used right. The only issue I see is the grey area between character/real person online, and the fact that WWE is marketed to a large extent for younger viewers.

to all the people who keep playing the "just trying to get his heel character over" card, for one thing I don't ever remember anyone else having to use a slur like "f*ggot" to get over as a heel. Why weren't all of you defending Jeff Hardy for just enhancing his heel character with his drug problems and showing up for his main event match drunk and/or stoned out of his mind? Risking the health of opponent and not worrying about potentially killing or crippling him would have been PERFECT "heel heat".

I think the term 'left-wing liberal' is much more offensive!

Micael Cole needs to be suspended or fired now not after WM. To suspend him after WM misses the point of the punishment and he will have gotten away with it. If Vince or the wwe truly cared and wanted to send the right message Cole should be hit where it hurts by having his golden opportunity taken away from him. Let Lawler compete against Swagger at WM so as not to punish them but Cole needs to be gone NOW. The writers can come up with Lawler taking out Cole in a parking lot or whatever,it dosen't matter,the important thing is sending the right message to Cole and the stockholders that this sort of thing will not be tolerated in the new family friendly enviornment of the wwe. For those who don't think it's a big deal check with GLAAD about the number of kids that have been damaged emotionally or have even taken their lives after suffering such abuse. If Cole appears on Raw Monday and at WM the wwe will be confirming how little they care about this matter. It will be just like the joke that is the wellness policy, a feeble and transparent bit of lip service given to an issue while you carry on business as usual. Take note members of GLAAD this will be an example of whether they take your issues seriously or just want to shut up and and send you packing before you affect their all important bottom line.

@ MechanicalBull

I get that, and it can be seen as cheap heat...but times have changed, people have become immune to the more traditional heel techniques, so a good heel needs to expand. All modes of entertainment look to push the bracket, it's what makes something more shocking, or in this context "heelish".

maybe some people haven't been keeping up with current events, but michael cole is ACTING- sure its a shoot, but so is improv. NOT a big deal, if you think it is, go watch IDOL.

What would the reaction in WWE-land be if after having Booker T sit in on commentary and do poorly, as he did last time, Cole called him a "stupid n***er" via Twitter? Would that be ok, because he's a heel?

You can't have it both ways. You can't have some discriminatory slurs be offensive and others be ok. It just reveals your inner prejudices.

Just because I dislike disinformation due to the ease of spreading it via the internet...
@Jeremy Hale
I am not disagreeing with your moral stance. However, the etymology of the word "faggot" you gave, while sounding official due to your ability to articulate yourself well---is NOT true.
That origin has been suggested, as many things are suggested, (usually with an agenda-whether it is a noble one or not-in your case it is) in various controversial areas of human discourse, but this one has no evidence to back it up, not even circumstantially.
"Faggot" is believed by semiologists to have become a derogatory word for homosexuals following an earlier derogatory use against women--meaning an unpleasant, unattractive or low-class woman, most likely because "faggot-gatherers", those who collected bundled sticks for fires, (the original "faggot"), were not only women, but of the lowest socio-economic classes, so that calling any woman a "faggot" was to liken them to the lowest, most put-upon class of an already harried gender. The relation of feminity to homosexuality in the popular mind, and an existing bigotry against women and anything subsequently connected to them, resulted in the word being passed on to male homosexuals.
You can look that up. I would suggest even moving on past Wikipedia. Etymology and semiology are very old and well-practiced social sciences, and you can check their mountains of evidence yourself if you go to a library and have an interest in the subject. I don't mean that sarcastically-it's a real suggestion for everyone-it's actually very interesting to see how words form and change-My own opinion on this particular one can be summed up by the South Park episode, "The F-Word".

Also, just an interesting piece of wrestling history that relates to this as it pertains to the's a start----you can research from here...

A while back, before even the "Attitude" era...Vince was on the hot seat because it was alleged by several young stars that Pat Patterson, who was running booking and other aspects of the WWF, and was gay, frequently sexually harrassed young wrestlers and sometimes demanded sexual favors for help in getting pushed.
Look it all up yourself-it included ALLEGATIONS, not anything ever concretely proved, that Vince was okay with this and also participated and that it remained for some time a way of business at WWE/F. Some even accredited rumors that this was the nature of the relationship between Sean Michaels and McMahon, and more strongly suggested between Michaels and Patterson.
I mention this because it makes a controversy over Michael Cole's comments somewhat amusing and ironic, since it IS well known that wrestling has long featured many suppressed consensual homosexual relationships.
And why not? There is room for everyone in the world. It is just interesting that the WWE has faced back-to-back scandals with this when black people have had a harder time gaining prominence in the WWE than gay people.

Its about time tha t Americans grow up. Homophobes like Cole dont belong in a ring = they belong in a playpen.

With a bunch of 300# hulks ready to beat them until they cry mommy the first time they open their bigoted mouth.

And we'll stand by our gay friends and neightbors till hell freezes over.

But what else would you expect except ignorance and bigotry from some people whose goals lin life are beating up someone else

@mstrchef13: Actually, if it were clear that he was using that word in the context of a storyline as his heel character, I think it would be fine. Yes, it's an offensive word, that's what makes him a heel.

I do agree, however, that Twitter is not the right place to use either of these words. When it is not 100% clear that someone is portraying a character, they should stay on the more cautious side, which Cole did not do in this case.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
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