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George Takei apologizes for ‘Clown in blackface’ comment

Former Star Trek actor George Takei has apologized for calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “Clown in blackface.”

Takei, who played Mr. Sulu in the original 1960s NBC television show and several subsequent motion pictures, took offense at Justice Thomas’s dissent to last week’s majority ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

Thomas was making the argument that the government can neither bestow, nor take away dignity from any human being. He used the examples of slaves and people in internment camps to illustrate his point that the dignity of a human is in his character rather than his conditions.

Takei, who is openly gay, erupted angrily in an interview with the Fox affiliate in Phoenix. He asked if Thomas didn’t know slaves were chained and whipped on the back. The internet erupted in condemnation after he called Thomas an embarrassment,, a disgrace and a “Clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court.”

Online commentators called it everything from a racist rant to verbal diarrhea.

An initial walk-back didn’t go well. Takei explained Thursday that, “Blackface” is a lesser known theatrical term for a white actor who blackens his face to play a black buffoon. In traditional theater lingo, and in my view and intent, that is not racist. It is instead part of a racist history in this country.”

After the Twitterverse condemnation continued, Takei Friday issued a more comprehensive social media apology, in which he said his choice of words was regrettable, uncivil and ” the words I chose, said in the heat of anger, were not carefully considered.”

Justice Thomas has not publicly commented on Takei’s remarks.

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