Hell freezes over and I defend Phil Robertson.

duckI’ll admit that my first reaction to hearing that Phil Robertson had been suspended from Duck Dynasty was glee.  Maybe now I would no longer have to hear about the antics of the Robertson family from virtually every person I meet.  I watched an episode.  I was amused.  And then I didn’t feel the need to ever watch it again.

So anyway, yes.  I was happy.  But confused.  Isn’t suspending Phil Robertson for anti-gay, anti-anything-not-Christian remarks kind of like suspending a Kardashian for filming a sex tape?  What, exactly, was A&E expecting?

To be fair to A&E, maybe there was a specific contractual obligation that precluded the Robertson family from that type of public comment.  I have a hard time believing that the Robertson family would have signed such an agreement.  They seem far too smart and far too committed to their faith to sign anything that restricts their ability to preach it.  So let’s assume that there was no such contractual breach.  It is certainly still within A&E’s rights to choose to cut ties, but again I ask – what were they expecting?

If you haven’t read the GQ article that sparked the controversy, I highly recommend that you do.  It’s a great piece.

Mr. Robertson was certainly within his rights to speak his mind.  Free speech and all.  You are within your rights to stop watching the show if you found the article offensive.  (Although I have to ask – what were YOU expecting?)

I, of course, fundamentally disagree with Mr. Robertson’s point of view.  I believe that the United States was founded on freedom of (or from) religion, and that we should be celebrating religious diversity.  I believe human sexuality – heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality – is also diverse and within the natural order of things.  I believe that plenty of violence has been committed in Jesus’ name, so assuming that it is a belief in Jesus that makes someone “right” or “moral” is ridiculous.  I also think that Phil is an interesting guy with a admirable commitment to his family and to making amends for his past.  I disagree with him, but I (holy crap I can’t believe I’m saying this) don’t dislike him.

Comments similar to those made by Phil Robertson are made every single day on Fox News, our venerable “Fair and Balanced” news source.  In the context of a network that purports to bring fair and balanced news, I would expect to see an on-air personality be suspended for outrageously contentious comments.  On a network that brings us Rodeo Girls and Storage Wars, I think Phil Robertson is exactly what he is intended to be.

The crazy conclusion to all of this is that I really hope that this doesn’t become the reason Duck Dynasty goes off the air.  I still hope it does go off the air so that I don’t have to hear about it any more, but not for this.