Just a couple of weeks after coming under fire for airing an edited version of the Academy Award-winning film “Carol” that censored out the film’s same-sex kissing scenes, Delta Airlines says it will be removing the Chris Rock comedy special “Kill the Messenger” from its aircrafts following a complaint that the film contains uncensored graphic language, including the anti-gay slur “fa**ot.”

According to a statement issued exclusively to GayTravel.com, “Kill the Messenger” “should not have been uploaded on flights” and the airline will work as quickly as possibly to see that it’s removed.

“The Chris Rock ‘Kill the Messenger’ segment should not have been uploaded on flights based on our criteria for excluding onboard programming that includes content featuring explicit language, slurs, extreme violence, and explicit scenes,” a spokesperson for Delta said in a statement to GayTravel.com. “We apologize to any customers who were offended by the content or our airing of the segment, and we are working as quickly as possible to remove it from our aircraft. Our commitment to inclusion and respect of all customers is rooted in Delta’s values and culture, and we proudly embrace diverse people, thinking and styles.”
The complaint about the special and the airline’s failure to censor the antigay slur was made by Jeremy Foreshew, an employee at Grindr who watched the special last week on a flight from New York to Los Angeles. Foreshew said he was curious to watch the 2008 special because he hadn’t seen the special before, but he also wanted to see how Delta handled Rock’s use of foul language.

What followed shocked Foreshew, he told GayTravel.com — the special contained a several-minutes-long rant in which Chris Rock spoke on occasions in which it would be appropriate for him to call someone a “fa**ot.” Delta offered the film as part of its free in-flight entertainment service, meaning it was there for anyone and everyone to hear.

Foreshew, who used to work for Canadian-based company Buzz Taxi selling in-flight entertainment to companies including Air Canada, said he was particularly shocked because he knows “the level of scrutiny that goes into buying this type of programming in terms of content and in terms of the levels of approval.”

So he rang for a flight attendant and explained the problem. 

“I told her, ‘I know this isn’t your fault, you don’t select the programming… but you should know what’s on your flight,” he explained.

He said she was sympathetic and agreed with him that the content was inappropriate. She got him information for one of Delta’s Human Resources managers and rang ahead to LAX to arrange for what she referred to as a “red coat” (airline customer service representatives) to meet him at the gate and discuss his complaint. A Delta employee and a manager for LAX took his complaint and told him an executive from Delta would be in touch with him. 

Foreshew said the language, in part, caught him off guard because he’d come from spending several days with activists from the Human Rights Campaign, True Colors and other LGBT non-profits that Grindr is working with on a project centered around researching and bringing assistance to at-risk LGBT communities. 

“Having come from being with all these activists, knowing the current state of violence against the LGBT community, and knowing the current political climate… I just came to a place where I couldn’t believe this was something happening in 2016. When you think of the number of people who fly Delta every day and have access to that language… it just shocked me.”

Foreshew said he didn’t make the connection that Delta had come under fire just two weeks prior for censoring same-sex kissing out of the theatrical version of “Carol” until later. Delta came under fire for censoring the film after comedian Cameron Esposito observed that she was watching an edited version of the film — the response on Twitter prompted the #FreeCarol campaign. 

Delta responded by saying it was given the choice of airing one of two versions of the film and chose the censored one because of the graphic sex scenes in the unedited version. “The edited version removes two explicit scenes that do not meet our guidelines. The edited version also removes all kissing,” a statement from Delta said.

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