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Andy Rooney’s homophobic gaffes

BY NOREEN FAGAN – Anyone
who has ever watched the CBS program 60 Minutes will know that Andy Rooney died Nov 4 at the age of 92.

Rooney was famous for having the last 10 minutes on the
show to speak about anything he liked. Topics ranged from the seemingly frivolous
(the size of fruit on cereal boxes compared to the actual size of the fruit — a
dig at marketing gimmicks) to more serious viewpoints (admonishing President
George W Bush for his “shock and awe” tactics in Iraq).

Rooney was a curmudgeon who, in his last essay on 60 Minutes,
told audiences, “I’ve done a lot of complaining here, but of all the
things I’ve complained about, I can’t complain about my life."

The man was an icon, but, as I learned last night while
watching the show, he had a sullied past. In 1990 Rooney was suspended from the
show for his homophobic comments.

An article in The Advocate takes a peek at Rooney’s “less than charming moments."

In his closing essay for 1989, Rooney remarked that the year reminded him that “many of the ills which kill us are self-induced: too much
alcohol, too much food, drugs, homosexual unions, cigarettes. They’re all known
to lead quite often to premature death.”

His words did not go unnoticed.

People from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation spoke with
CBS, and Rooney offered an apology. But soon after he got into trouble again
when he talked to a reporter from The Advocate. After apologizing for his homophobic remarks he went on to say that
“homosexuality is inherently dangerous” before making racist remarks about
unintelligent blacks “watering down their genes.”

Although Rooney denied that he made any racist remarks, he
was suspended for three months. He returned to 60 Minutes after one.

Rooney mellowed over the years, and in 2004, when President
George W Bush proposed amending the US Constitution to ban same-sex
marriage, Rooney said that rather than focusing on making gay weddings illegal,
the president should address the divorce rate among heterosexuals.

Whatever his past, he was still one of TV’s greatest
curmudgeons, and I love the fact that he never gave autographs. His take on
people coming up to him on the streets was simple: what kind of idiot would
want his signature on a piece of paper?

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