Well, here’s Phil Robinson (pictured, far right), founder of Duck Commander, in the newest issue of GQ – in context:
Out here in these woods, without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants. Maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality, and there’s no stopping them from rushing out. Like this one:
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Here’s the next salient section of the article:
“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”
What does repentance entail? Well, in Robertson’s worldview, America was a country founded upon Christian values (Thou shalt not kill, etc.), and he believes that the gradual removal of Christian symbolism from public spaces has diluted those founding principles. (He and Si take turns going on about why the Ten Commandments ought to be displayed outside courthouses.) He sees the popularity of Duck Dynasty as a small corrective to all that we have lost.
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”
What, in your mind, is sinful?
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
A&E Networks, in response, released the following, as per Bill Carter in The New York Times:
The A&E network announced Wednesday night that it had suspended Phil Robertson, patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” clan, in the wake of antigay statements he made in GQ magazine.
A&E said that Mr. Robertson had been put on indefinite hiatus from the show, which is by far the biggest hit on the network.
In a statement, the network said, “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series ‘Duck Dynasty.’ His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the L.G.B.T. community.”
Mr. Robertson, who travels the country preaching, graphically denounced gay sex in the magazine and called it a sin.
The announcement has no immediate effect on the series because it is not currently in production. Mr. Robertson already filmed episodes for the next season of “Duck Dynasty” and a network spokesman said he would appear in many of those.
Here are the two key things to keep in mind. Free speech doesn’t mean one’s speech is free from consequence. And, thanks to the United States Supreme Court, a corporation – such as A&E Networks – has an equal right to free speech and can be considered an individual entity. Hence, Phil can say what he wants about homosexuals, or any kind of sinner, and A&E can say – as they do employ him – “You’re fired”.
Tit for tat. Zero sum gain.
So at no point in this idiotic sequence of events has anyone’s “rights” been abridged.
I’m not going to go into some treatise about my views on Phil’s subject matter. As a no-nonsense, hyper-conservative Christian fundamentalist, he is stating what he believes. In the larger context of the entire article, the only thing that springs to my mind, “How/Why the Hell did Phil decide to hold forth on this subject?” Most fascinating to me is what this does about my perception that the entire Duck Dynasty phenomenon was an entire construct, and that these people were about as authentically redneck as the Clampetts. (They were fictional, remember?) As a result of this, I believe I have to offer A&E my apology.
So, I’m here neither to bury or to praise Phil Robertson. Or A&E, even though they put this crap on TV in the first place. (OK, maybe I’m burying A&E just a little….)
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