So yesterday we wrote up a little cliff notes guide to the controversy over the bigoted comments given by Duck Dynasty star and family patriarch Phil Robertson, and boy did a lot of you get pissed.
Your dude made what I (and many others) felt were extremely homophobic and racist comments — calling homosexuality a sin on the level of bestiality and saying that people of color were happier before the civil rights era, among other things — statements that got him put on indefinite hiatus from the reality show. All seems to be in order so far. A&E is ultimately a business and they have a contract with the Robertson family, so if one of the members of that family makes themselves a liability, it’s safe to assume that it might affect their working relationship, right?
NO. Turns out that according to some of our commenters, even writing about this controversy is violating the First Amendment, aka Freedom of Speech. Which is so weird, because I thought that amendment was initially designed to protect members of the press and individuals from persecution for sharing their opinions. But apparently I was wrong and it was designed to protect reality TV stars from being taken off the air as a consequence for a really idiotic remark.
That’s the kind of oppression that the Constitution is trying to protect against, you guys! Not fines or legal prosecution or jail time, not to mention assault or torture or goddamn murder — the real definition of persecution is when a white, male, Christian millionaire is temporarily taken off the air for a reality television show which he profits from but doesn’t produce. That’s not oppression, that’s a consequence, and it’s something that, as an adult human living in the world, you should be used to by now.
Look at me, I’m used to it! I know that when I write a post, people aren’t legally entitled to firebomb my house, but they are entitled to leave nasty comments completely misunderstanding the law. That’s their right, and I would never take it away from them, no matter how frustrated I get, or how unfair it feels. We all have to be grown-ups now, you guys. You ready? Let’s read the statement issued by the Robertson Family and see if they’re ready.
“We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.”
Okay sure. A constitutional reference, some shoutouts to loving on everybody, even the disgusting ones who love who they want to love. That all seems to be in order. Except there’s also this video that just surfaced from 2010, that shows an hour-long speech from Phil Robertson appearing to target the gay community yet again in a rambling speech made in front of diners at the Berean Bible Church in Pennsylvania.
And finally, Jon Stewart weighed in on the controversy as well last night, pointing out that it’s a little hypocritical to call ‘freedom of speech’ on this, given that Fox News consistently tells people how to act and what to say on their program, frequently even giving viewers the tools to register their own disapproval, like contact information and complaint lines to oppose the supposed War on Christmas.
I have no doubt that this controversy will get even more ridiculous, so please stay tuned for future bigotry and homophobia in the guise of patriotism and loving your neighbor as you love yourself. Sigh.
(Photo: Jeff Reidel for GQ)