Odds are, in the midst of your Christmas celebrations this week, someone brought up Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty or homosexuality.
Every family has an uncle who cant pass up a good argument, and today the East Oregonian is going to be that uncle.
This recent scandal has all the earmarks necessary to get and keep people debating. It slices the country through so many sensitive spots.?There are class issues at play, also tensions of rural vs. urban, conservative vs. liberal, religious vs. secular, progressive vs. traditional, hunter vs. vegan, bearded vs. clean shaven, etc. We all find ourselves on a side of at least one of those divides and therefore many have found some interest in the discussion.
But should we?
Phil Robertson is a hillbilly of the highest order and darn proud of it. If youve been living under a penthouse the last few years, Robertson is the patriarch of a Louisiana family that has made a fortune manufacturing duck calls for hunters. He is one of the stars of a reality television show that offers a window into the strange and often humorous life of the Robertsons. The families certainly have a way with words, and the ability to explain their traditional southern lifestyles that cause viewers to chuckle.
But we learned last week, courtesy of a profile in GQ?Magazine, one of those traditional habits is disparaging gay people and head-scratching ignorance of the plight of African-Americans, non-Christians and the countrys poor.
In a long profile piece, GQ?writer Drew Magary asked Robertson: What, in your mind, is sinful?
Robertson responded: 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, a book of the New Testament: Dont be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers they wont inherit the kingdom of God. Dont deceive yourself. Its not right.
For those comments, and others such as pre-entitlement, pre-welfare blacks were godly?and happy and no one was singing the blues,?the family patriarch was suspended indefinitely by A&E, the television network that broadcasts the show.
This set off a swelling of support from Robertsons fans, Christians and conservatives who argued in favor of his free speech and the ability to talk openly about religion and faith. The opposition was equally incensed: Members of the gay alliance said Robertsons words were deplorable and called for a boycott of the show and A&E.
Now that the initial passions have subsided, we think both sides should rethink their positions.
Those who call it a free speech issue are off base. Phil Robertson has not been thrown in jail, has not been ordered to stop talking by any court, not been physically harmed or exiled for his actions. The real First Amendment rights on display here are from A&E:?The company has the right to suspend an employee who has made inflammatory comments not in keeping with their culture. We cant believe economic freedom-loving conservatives would not want an organization to be able to suspend (or fire)?an employee who has disobeyed company policy especially if it could cost said company lots of money.
Robertsons suspension?spotlights the over-arching umbrella of corporatism hovering over mainstream culture. Those who cast their lot with an entertainment corporation and sign a hefty contract to do so have to follow their rules. And like it or not, modern America will not tolerate what Robertson said about gays. Those days are long gone and currently fading faster than ever. If Robertson didnt know there would be fallout from his interview, he should have.
But we also think Americas outrage meter needs to be turned down, especially for those who disagree with Robertson. Robertson is a conservative Christian, believes in the Bible and in a strict and literal view of its teaching. You can be disappointed, but you shouldnt be surprised that Robertson shares the views he espoused.
People should continue to be free to express their opinions, even unpopular ones. The PC Police can take a breather and let reality television stars do what they do best:?say and do stupid things.