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.

2 thoughts on “Hell freezes over and I defend Phil Robertson.

  1. Phil is free to say whatever he wants, much to my chagrin, because this is a free country. What he said came dangerously close to hate speech, which he is NOT free to say, but probably didn’t cross that line. However, his employer is equally free to suspend or terminate him for embarrassing the network. It doesn’t matter whether the employer (or we) “should have expected this”. That’s totally irrelevant. While there is probably not a line in his contract that states “don’t say mean things about blacks and gays”, there is almost certainly a vaguely-worded paragraph about how the network reserves the right to terminate his employment in the case of conduct unbecoming. If you used a national magazine article to inform a bazillion people that being gay was a doorway to beastiality, you’d get fired, too. Phil and his family have made a zillion dollars by using the platform of a mainstream cable network to promote themselves. The price of that is that they have to act a little civilized in public. He violated that unspoken part of the contract. The Fox News analogy is not apt, because those lunatics don’t care what anyone thinks of them. In fact, they relish conflict because it brings more publicity. That’s not the kind of network that A&E is.

    • It has been bugging me all day that I have disappointed you with this blog post – and I haven’t been able to respond. I’m still not sure exactly how to respond, but I know that I really need to.

      Of course you know that I 100% respect your opinion – and I don’t even disagree all that much. A&E was absolutely within its rights to terminate or suspend Phil Robertson. His comparison of homosexuality to bestiality was ludicrous and offensive. I also think that the idea that heterosexual men are only attracted to women (rather than men) because vaginas have more to offer is offensive and ridiculous.

      I don’t think anything he said was bordering on hate speech, though, which I guess is the fundamental difference in our opinions. I completely get the argument that giving him a national platform gives him the ability to spread his ignorant beliefs – and A&E can choose to not be a part of that. But reality television stars use the national platform to promote their beliefs (ignorant, offensive and otherwise) all the time. The Robertson family is well-known for a fundamentalist view on abortion, too, but A&E doesn’t seem to have an issue with that.

      Regardless, I am really sorry if it seems like I’m being insensitive to how offensive the comments were in the first place. That wasn’t my intention at all and I certainly don’t agree with the man.

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