Phil Robertson quacks like a bigot
I have to weigh in on the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Phil Robertson’s interview with GQ magazine and the firestorm it created.
First, all you “Duck Dynasty” fans who stand with Phil, stop saying that Phil Robertson’s right to free speech has somehow been abridged. Free speech is speech that’s protected from infringement by the government. Your employer can legally limit your speech. If you don’t believe me, start sexually harassing a fellow employee. Go tell your boss off.
Robertson’s employer, A&E, is obviously afraid that controversy is going to hurt their cash cow. You might ask why A&E is even getting involved, since Robertson gave an interview to GQ and wasn’t technically “at work.” And Tiger Woods wasn’t bedding women on the golf course, but he was fired from numerous companies.
Actions have consequences. Phil Robertson has every right to hold the views he does. No one is stopping him from attending the church of his choice and espousing the beliefs he holds dear. But while you’re free to hold and espouse those views, you must be prepared for the consequences.
Perhaps he was simply saying he believes in a traditional biblical view of homosexuality. There are millions of Americans who agree with him. But the way he enunciated his view, with talk of vaginas and anuses and bestiality (a comparison from the well worn playbook of homophobes), he came across sounding more like Westboro than Pope Francis.
He goes on in the GQ interview to talk about blacks. Robertson says that in pre-civil rights era Louisiana, he never once saw a black person mistreated. He adds, “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
This myth of the happy slave has always been popular in the South. It continued throughout Jim Crow up until the Civil Rights era. Segregationist politicians and police chiefs always claimed that their black residents were happy until people like “Martin Luther Coon” came in and stirred them up. According to Robertson blacks were “godly” before the Civil Rights era. What is he saying?
And why was his first thought about blacks welfare and entitlements? That alone gives one insight into the man’s mindset.
I won’t call him a bigot, but he espouses views that are indistinguishable from a bigot.
He goes on in the article to blast other societies for their lack of Jesus. He mentions Nazi Germany, World War II-era Japan, Communists and Islamists and finishes, “Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.” It’s breathtaking that Robertson doesn’t seem to know that Christianity has its own dark past of murder in Inquisitions, witch trials and forced conversions.
Sadly, Phil Robertson speaks for a lot of folks.
With all this said, I’m not a big fan of canning people for saying stupid, controversial or offensive things. Bill Maher, Howard Stern, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Don Imus, Paula Deen, Rush Limbaugh, Rick Sanchez, Brett Ratner, Duane “Dog” Chapman, Isaiah Washington, Roland Martin, Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir comprise only a partial list of famous folks who were either fired or resigned following controversial statements.
While their employers had every right to sack them for fear of harm to their bottom line, I don’t like the idea that if we don’t like what people say, we silence them. And nearly all of those folks went back to work somewhere else, so what was accomplished? I foresee Phil Robertson going back to “Duck Dynasty” and if he doesn’t, the family will probably just land on another network.
Early in my writing career, I wrote a newspaper column and referred to then-Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates as a “stupid asshole.” The remark caused a firestorm, with many readers calling the paper, angered by my use of profanity, while some were angered by the sentiment. The publisher and editor could’ve seen all that heat and decided it was easier to get rid of me then risk losing subscribers. But my editor stood behind me, noting that it was his call to let the remark run. It blew over. I continued to write and be tough on people I disagreed with, but I was also more sensitive to how I made my points. In the end everyone was heard.
I want people to say what they truly think. I’d rather know where someone stands, so I can make a proper judgment about his or her character. Someone says something bigoted? Call them on it. Turn the channel. You don’t have to watch them. Blast them on social media. Write a letter to the editor. I believe you always counter bigoted speech with better speech.
So I don’t want Robertson fired or his show pulled off the air, even thought I disagree with his remarks. All he did with the interview was convince me that I made the right decision to not watch his show. Move on.