Photo Credit: D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra
Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson has become a reality TV celebrity by being true to his Bible-thumping, duck-skinning, technology-hating self. But that very thing has now gotten him suspended from his own show. During an interview for GQ that focused heavily on his faith, Robertson, 67, had a whole lot to say about the "sins" of American culture -- specifically, homosexuality.
"It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me," Robertson told the magazine. "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."
That wasn't the only time that the topic came up. When asked to define "what is sinful," Robertson named homosexuality alongside bestiality and adultery. He also grouped gay people along with terrorists. Still, he insisted that he wasn't condemning anyone.
"We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty's job," said Robertson. "We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus -- whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?"
Yeah, so this didn't go over too well with a lot of people. Sarah Palin, for one, is standing behind the duck commander, calling the backlash a violation of his free speech.
Free speech is endangered species; those "intolerants" hatin' & taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) December 19, 2013
Governor Bobby Jindal has also declared this a Constitutional issue.
I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. http://t.co/IK2fvrqGPn— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) December 19, 2013
We'd like to point out that the First Amendment is not the right to say whatever you want with zero backlash. It's actually the opposite: free speech means that Phil Robertson has the right to voice his opinion, and the rest of us have a right to weigh in. And the government can't punish Robertson for saying that gay people are going to hell.
However, A&E is not the government. They are Robertson's employer, and a private company, which means they have a choice whether or not to give him a platform for his homophobic rants. Following the interview, the network released a statement announcing that Robertson is "under hiatus from filming indefinitely."
Granted, Robertson's views are archaic and offensive. But A&E's reaction also seems a little disingenuous, since they must have already known that Robertson considered homosexuality sinful. He's never been shy about expressing his views on this stuff. And given that he brought the subject up at least three times during the GQ interview, it seems likely that the network has been editing such comments out of his scenes for over a year now. (Robertson implies as much in the interview, complaining that A&E cuts out too many of his "controversial" opinions.)
The A&E statement says that the network is "extremely disappointed" in Robertson, and that his views "are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty." But isn't Duck Dynasty kind of all about the Robertson family's personal views? A&E can't have it both ways; if they're going to promote a star whose appeal comes from being un-P.C., then they shouldn't act appalled when controversial things fly out of his mouth. They knew what they were getting into.
In short, we're all entitled to our opinion about Robertson's views, First Amendment and all. If people want to protest his presence on TV, there's an easy way: stop watching and promoting Duck Dynasty. And if A&E is really and truly horrified by what Robertson said, they may want to think about making some big changes to their most popular series. Somehow, we don't see that happening.