George Takei, an LGBT activist of Star Trek fame, has apologized for calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a "clown in blackface" and a "disgrace to America."
The comments were recorded when a local NBC affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona, interviewed Takei shortly after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality.
Takei's comments elicited varying responses on social media, from defense to condemnation, as well as ambivalence over the fact that the conflict was not significant in the broader conversation about equality.
In his Facebook status posted on Friday, Takei said that Clarence Thomas' dissent in particular struck him because of its implication that the government does not have the power to strip citizens of their dignity.
Takei said that part of Thomas' opinion really got under his skin, and cited the American histories of slavery and internment to challenge the idea that the government does not play a role in people's humanity.
Takei reiterated that when he called the justice "a clown in blackface," he was referencing a "history of racism in the theatrical arts" rather than making a racist comment.
Nonetheless, he acknowledged that what he said was wrong.
"While I continue to vehemently disagree with Justice Thomas, the words I chose, said in the heat of anger, were not carefully considered," Takei wrote.
He added that the realization was especially resonant given the upcoming national holiday.
I am reminded, especially on this July 4th holiday, that though we have the freedom to speak our minds, we must use that freedom judiciously.
Each of us, as humans, have hot-button topics that can set-us off, and Justice Thomas had hit mine, that is clear. But my choice of words was regrettable, not because I do not believe Justice Thomas is deeply wrong, but because they were ad hominem and uncivil, and for that I am sorry.
He encouraged his fans and social media followers to continue to "keep the level of discourse on this page and in comments high, and to remember that we all love this country and what it stands for, even if we often disagree passionately about how to achieve those goals."
"I did not live up to my own high standards in this instance," he added.
Read the full Facebook apology here.
Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.
Contact Tamerra Griffin at email@example.com.
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