Thursday, December 19, 2013

As Tempers Flair and Short Memories Linger, Duck Dynasty Comes Under Fire

So, yesterday I guess A&E decided to suspend Phil Robertson from the show, "Duck Dynasty" because of an answer he gave in a GQ interview. When asked what Phil thought constituted as sin, Phil said:

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."
"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."
Sure, it's a controversial statement, but is it hateful? Even if it is hateful, does it constitute being suspended from the show? Granted, the FCC does regulate types of behavior and morals on TV (albeit subjective depending on who's morals, but putting that aside for the moment, and considering the first amendment of the Constitution, would it be in violation to suspend someone from a job based on the views they hold?

I would say yes, and I would say that goes for anyone. The problem I have with this issue is the majorly short memories that people, especially in the religious community, hold when crying 'shenanigans' about religious intolerance.

First, A&E likely does not care about the religious views of anyone, and is simply protecting its own financial interests. Although they do support LGBTQ organizations, this is most likely a business move.
His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.
Secondly, while A&E seems to be violating First Amendment rights by suspending Phil from the show based on his comments, they are taking a page from the Conservative Christian playbook of the Culture War to protest things one disagrees with.

Some of the Christians in the Conservative camp are calling religious intolerance right now, and I would bet anything that they would be reacting differently if it were a show that had an Atheist saying he believed Christians were dumb, such as Bill Maher's comments about calling religion a "neurological disorder". They'd be boycotting and protesting that the show be removed. They would spearhead letter writing campaigns for the network to cancel the show or fire said Atheist.

At least A&E is responding better than some have in the past. When Don Imus called the Rutgers University women's basketball team (made up of eight African-American and two white women) a bunch of "nappy-headed hos", he was fired. When Bill Maher made a comment regarding the Terrorists on 9/11 as heroes, his show was cancelled. When Christians pleaded for Book of Daniel to be removed from TV, they succeeded as well. My question is this: do these incidents simply escalate now receiving the same treatment when the 'other side' is offended by us?

Third, the gay rights organizations are now doing the same thing. GLAAD representative Wilson Cruz stated:
Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.
Fourth, Phil simply expressed his views. He didn't call for anyone to lose their jobs, to be put to death... nothing at all that would be truly a reason to be concerned. Really, what did he do but answer a question from GQ? Agree or disagree with him, but is it any justification for any other action to be taken? It was hardly the comments of Don Imus or Bill Maher?

So yes, all four stakeholders in this 'fight' have a right to the views they hold and the right to not support those they do not agree with. However, looking at the first three groups mentioned, they all reacted emotionally, while Phil's reaction to this whole ordeal is that of a perfect response:
I myself am a product of the '60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together," he says. "However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.
So when will this back and forth of the culture war end?! Fighting doesn't work. Boycotting doesn't work. Calling for someone to be fired over their speech is against the Constitution and it's not an appropriate way to handle a diplomatic situation. So, why don't we try diplomacy instead?

I hate to make this part a shameless self promotion, but frankly, it's why I'm feeling the need to re-write "Cease Fire, the War is Over!" as "Onward, Christian Solders?", because nobody seems to be getting the picture.... In this situation, from the same Christians who protest others they disagree with (to now crying religious intolerance), to the gay rights groups, to A&E, to the many angry fans of the show... why not pray, or converse, or simply watch something else? The only person who can give you permission to be offended is yourself. Choose to not be offended and do something constructive. Love, Pray, and Hope for a better tomorrow. As Red Green would say, "We're all in this together."

Better yet, the Louisiana governor pretty much sums up my thoughts on this issue of hypocrisy and contradictions in the many responses to this ordeal:
Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the state of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with. I don't agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But, I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh and Phil Robertson gets suspended.

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