Over the holidays "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson set off a firestorm of controversy when he told a GQ writer, “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."
Equating homosexuality with sinfulness and beastiality led to an understandable uproar. So A&E suspended Robertson from "Duck Dynasty" and then a storm of protest followed with fans of the show claiming his freedom of speech was being trampled upon.
Nevermind that "freedom of speech" refers to governmental curbs of free speech rights so there's no way A&E could actually infringe on anyone's free speech. A&E simply punished an employee for violating what are likely its own workplace non-discrimination policies. There are no Constitutional protections for an employee of a private company who says hateful things. Robertson has the right to say whatever he wants; no one has the right to a cable reality show. The politicians who also joined the "freedom of speech" choir are surely aware of this but opted to pander to their base. "Freedom of speech" is a convenient rallying cry for ignorant/intolerant Americans we've seen before (see: Chick-Fil-A scandal).
Read more after the jump. ...
And Robertson's anti-gay remarks weren't the only offensive things in his interview, as Jesse Jackson noted when he weighed in.
Cracker Barrel, a company not known as a paragon of gay hospitality, pulled some "Duck Dynasty" products before caving and returning them to store shelves.
Eventually A&E did the same, predictably siding with commerce over the dignity of its gay employees. The show returns with new episodes Jan. 15.
Other offshoots of the controversy included the claim that the whole "Duck Dynasty" ethos is a big fake. Then Fox News Channel gave comfort to "Duck Dynasty" and its defenders, embracing Robertson's bigotry and/or the "freedom of speech" canard by inviting family members on its New Year' Eve show. And a clip surfaced of Robertson encouraging men to marry underage girls. (Wonder what his defenders, if they have young daughters, make of that one?)
This whole affair shows that despite strides for equality made by gay Americans, there's still a long way to go if it's possible to lose such a stupid skirmish as this one. And despite polling numbers that show growing support for gay rights, there are still enough detractors to pressure a giant media corporation to forsake its values.
I've written about "Duck Dynasty" before as the curiosity it is. I'll do my best to avoid writing about it in the future.