I wasn’t going to comment on all of this Duck Dynasty hoopla because I don’t really care for the show in the first place, but after seeing so many misinformed arguments about why we’re supposed to Stand with Phil on Facebook over the weekend, it started rubbing me the wrong way to where I need to get a couple of things off my chest…
1. Freedom of Speech is between People and Government, not People and Private Businesses.
Despite what constitutional ambulance chaser Sarah Palin wants to tell you, this issue has absolutely nothing to do with the 1st amendment. Phil Robertson did not go to jail for what he said about homosexuality, nor was he questioned by the police or detained against his will or audited by the IRS or anything else. He has the same ability to express his opinions today that he had a week ago.
Granted, he’s currently suspended from the role that he holds in his hit TV show, but that’s something very different because while Phil Robertson does have the constitutional right to say whatever he wants, A&E isn’t obligated to give him their microphone to express those beliefs.
2. Celebrity jobs aren’t the same as yours and my jobs.
So how can an employer get away with firing somebody because of their religion?!
Well, A) again, suspended, not fired, and B) being a star on a television show is not the same as working in a cubical farm or at a retail store or most other jobs like you or I have – in fact, unless your job involves an employment contract, you really can’t compare the two here because while no, your boss can’t walk in one day and just fire you for being a Christian, what the head of a giant media company can likely do is walk in and say, “Whoa – I don’t like the negative media that you’re building around our brand … you’ve gotta go.”
It’s called a morals clause and they’re pretty common in entertainment-type jobs because let’s face it, if you’re going to trust a million-dollar brand with somebody, you’re going to want certain protections in place to ensure that if that person decides to go rogue and potentially do damage to your gigantic cash cow, you need to be able to show them the door. And yes, those who support what Robertson said will probably get a little riled up at the idea of quoting the bible being immoral, but don’t look at it so much in that light as simply causing unnecessary distraction that the corporation would want to avoid.
That whole “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” saying is kind of bullshit – just ask Tiger Woods or Paula Deen.
3. Duck Dynasty probably isn’t going anywhere.
But most importantly of all, you notice how aside from those initial statements, everybody else is the only ones actually talking about all of this?!
First the interview from GQ ran with the quotes that started it all.
Then A&E released a statement saying that they were disappointed and that he would be suspended.
Then the family released a statement saying that they couldn’t imagine doing the show without him.
And that’s all that the two parties who matter in all of this have actually said – everything else is just buzz by the media and the fans and people like me who felt like blogging about it just for the sake of having something to write about! 😉
At the end of the day, A&E’s got quite the task on their hands here because I’ll guarantee you that they don’t want to take their highest rating show of all-time off the air, and yet they don’t want to be classified as being insensitive to the gay community, either. Anyone who’s walked through a Walmart this holiday season knows that you can’t walk three feet without seeing something else with their beards plastered on it and right now Americans are eating up the Duck Dynasty brand hand over fist! They’d be crazy to disrupt that cash cow as long as the goodies keep flowing, so their best tactic is to simply wait it out and with any luck, by New Years we’ll have all moved on to something completely different and the Duck Dynasty brand can continue raking in the millions without another glance.
That is, unless he goes and says something stupid again, mind you… 😛
Because here’s the thing – *I* think that what he said was pretty stupid and disrespectful towards gays, and don’t even get me started on the comments that he’s made about segregation and whatnot, but I’m not really a regular watcher of the show, so it doesn’t really matter what I think about another private citizen’s public comments. If you want to be pissed at A&E for taking the action that they did over what he said, feel free to do so – just don’t call it a violation of his free speech because it really isn’t. Call it an overreaction or disrespectful to believers in the bible or whatever else you want, but the Constitution has nothing to do with it.
That said, I would pose that maybe the reason that a lot of fans are upset about what’s taking place is that this has been a very public example of a large corporation saying, “No, that’s not acceptable and we don’t want to offend our other fans by associating with words like that…” – which is stirring because it’s the bible and a whole lot of people believe in it. And frankly I think that it’s an important dialog to be having because for a long time these people have hid behind the bible by saying things like “hate the sin, love the sinner” while denying them the same rights that they enjoy, and as our social makeup becomes more diverse, people are finally starting to say, “Wait a minute – my brother is gay, or my friend is gay, or my mailman is gay, and I love them, and how dare you say that they’re going to hell just because of who they are.”
The bible says plenty of other not so nice things for those of us who don’t necessarily believe in it, and I think that if you’re going to follow every word that’s in that book to the letter, then it’s time to understand that other people are occasionally going to start calling you on it because society is growing more tolerant of things that the bible seems to be against. Even among their own ranks, people take the bible to varying degrees of seriousness and follow some parts more strongly than others, so this idea that 2 billion followers of Christ are united against something like homosexuality doesn’t exactly hold water, and although those who do subscribe to the literal word of God without exception are certainly right to believe whatever they like, just as Phil Robertson’s Freedom of Speech itself wasn’t infringed by the things that he said, that doesn’t in turn mean that he enjoys a freedom from consequence with regards to the public reception of those beliefs.