A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” Suspension: Reality Show Ethics And Political Correctness


TV’s reality shows, particularly the cable variety, are like 19th Century freak shows. They are guilty pleasures where Americans can go to stare, gawk, snicker, be horrified and repulsed, and often feel superior to the weird mutations of the human species that they see exhibited. The phenomenon doesn’t speak well for the purveyors, the audience or the culture, but the it is popular and profitable.  Yesteryears’s dog-faced boy is today’s Honey Boo-Boo. Viewers aren’t offended by the awful things the stars say and do..they are entertained by them. Sometimes, sadly, they are inspired by them.

The current hot property in the genre is A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” the saga of Louisiana’s willfully odd Robertson clan, who have become millionaires through their invention of effective duck calls, wear long beards as trademarks and are proud, God-fearing Christian conservatives of the most primitive variety. Their “Deliverance” lifestyle and profoundly counter-Obama Era attitudes are part of the  Robertsons’ “entertainment” package, just as  the late Anna Nicole Smith getting carried through her fat, drunk and stupid days by her greedy sycophants and enablers was part of hers. This is reality TV, Americans! Be proud.

“Duck Dynasty’s” patriarch Phil, however, made the mistake of stepping out of the bayou for an interview with Gentleman’s Quarterly, in which he held forth on, among other topics, his views on homosexuality. Lacking Rick Santorum’s subtle touch, Phil declared:

“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.”

and on sin…

“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…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.”

Horrified that an unsophisticated, ignorant Bible-obeying Christian conservative heterosexual would dare to express the typical views of an unsophisticated, ignorant Bible-obeying Christian conservative heterosexual, GLAAD and other groups attacked Robertson and  pressured A&E to punish him for being exactly what A&E hires him to be. Setting some kind or record for absurd dudgeon, Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Group proclaimed,

“Phil Robertson’s remarks are not consistent with the values of our faith communities or the scientific findings of leading medical organizations. We know that being gay is not a choice someone makes, and that to suggest otherwise can be incredibly harmful. We also know that Americans of faith follow the Golden Rule — treating others with the respect and dignity you’d wish to be treated with. As a role model on a show that attracts millions of viewers, Phil Robertson has a responsibility to set a positive example for young Americans — not shame and ridicule them because of who they are. The A+E Network should take immediate action to condemn Phil Robertson’s remarks and make clear they don’t support his views.”

I know this disrupts the thrust of this post, but I can’t led it pass. Allow me to deconstruct Griffin’s absurd statement, which is—I’m sorry, but sometimes only one word will do—crap:

  • “Phil Robertson’s remarks are not consistent with the values of our faith communities…” That’s right, they are consistent with the values of Robertson’s faith communities, which have a right to their religious views too. 
  • “…or the scientific findings of leading medical organizations.” So what? The guy is a duck hunter, not a college professor and not a researcher, and doesn’t pose as one. If you want to complain, complain to GQ for its choice of interviewees.
  • “We know that being gay is not a choice someone makes, and that to suggest otherwise can be incredibly harmful.” To suggest otherwise is called having a different opinion, which the news media and the traditions of this nation are supposed to encourage. Yeah, I agree that he’s wrong. The way to address that particular misconception is to talk about it, not censor it.
  • “We also know that Americans of faith follow the Golden Rule — treating others with the respect and dignity you’d wish to be treated with.” The Golden Rule suggests that Griffin should allow Phil Robertson to express his opinions just as he allows Griffin to express his.  Griffin has no idea, based on Robertson’s remarks, how he treats gays at all. Robertson gave his opinion regarding homosexuality, and millions believe as he does. He can have any belief he chooses and still be in compliance with the Golden Rule, which says nothing about not regarding others as sinners. I think Robertson, for all his faults, probably understands the Golden Rule better than Griffin does.
  • “As a role model on a show that attracts millions of viewers, Phil Robertson has a responsibility to set a positive example for young Americans…” The Robertsons are role models now? Reality show stars are role models?  Was the carnival geek a role model? The horrible Kardashians,  the eight child exploiting Jon and Kate, pathetic and doomed Anna Nicole, Hulk Hogan, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Flavor Fav, Dennis Rodman, the horrible mothers, coaches and promoters on “Toddlers and Tiaras,” the certified low-life creeps on “Jersey Shore,” the Bridezillas, the desperate hustlers from “Blind Date,” the various disturbing “Real Wives,” TEEN MOM…are role models? Griffin hasn’t watched Robertson’s show—has he even looked at  Robertson’s photo?—and has no idea what he’s talking about. Most reality show stars are the opposite of role models—that’s why they are stars.
  • “…not shame and ridicule them because of who they are.”  What? Robertson’s family are the ones who are shamed and ridiculed because of who they are, and are PAID to be ridiculed because of who they are—and the interview only provides more ammunition.

Naturally, A&E, being cowardly weasels when confronted with the threat of a gay advocacy onslaught, immediately complied, suspending Robertson indefinitely and saying in a statement,

“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty.” 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.”

Again, a crock. Since when does any reality show on any network “represent the views” of that network? Donald Trump is a birther: did anyone assume that this meant that NBC, which broadcasts it (and owns MSNBC! ) is the birther network? TLC broadcast “American Muslim”—did that mean it was an Islamic company? Of course his comments in GQ are his own personal beliefs, and “Duck Dynasty,’ being about Phil and his family, has always been about that family’s beliefs.

A&E can decide to dump any employee it chooses if it concludes that the employee, fairly or unfairly, threatens its bottom line. That’s not what’s happening here, though. Obviously the Duck Dynasty clan’s eccentric credo is part of their “charm” (I forced myself to watch an episode  before writing this—I will not do so again except at gunpoint); A&E can’t possibly be surprised or disappointed at what Phil believes. It just caved to political correctness, that all: the political and cultural bullies who believe that their point of view not only is the only one, but the only one anyone should be allowed to express without punishment.
Any media or arts organization that capitulates to this anti-speech attitude is a disgrace and so hypocritical that it should not be taken seriously. The Constitution’s guarantee of free speech won’t work if anyone being candid in broadcast or print faces the constant threat of an organized effort to have them fired, and nobody is willing to stand up for the open expression of ideas. For there is no evidence that Phil Robertson has ever discriminated against anyone, or been anything other than a model citizen. I’m sure GLAAD doesn’t agree, but what we believe doesn’t make us bad people. What we do does.
What A&E did is wrong—unfair, cowardly, and disingenuous, and harmful to open dialogue in the United States. Mediaite’s Andrew Kirrell is one of the few commentators who understands. He writes:
“Speaking out and ridiculing Robertson’s views on homosexuality is a much more effective way of changing the culture than forcing him to shut up and sit in the corner. All this A&E suspension does is give ammo to the culture warriors like Fox’s Todd Starnes or AFA’s Bryan Fischer who genuinely believe there is a “gay agenda” coming after “good Christians” in popular culture. While they inflate that so-called “war” to a hilarious degree, this sort of incident gives them unwarranted credibility for the next time they cry wolf. If we want to change attitudes about homosexuality, it’s probably best not to advocate for the silencing or suspension of every single backwards thinker. Instead, we should have a rigorous debate and allow rational, humanistic thought to prevail over the reductive, knee-jerked anti-gay rhetoric of social conservatism.”
There are a few others. Ann Althouse writes, “…the attacks are unfair. He didn’t compare being gay to bestiality. He put homosexual conduct — not the status of being gay — into a category of sins that included ‘sleeping around with this woman and that woman’ as well as bestiality. We don’t see the heterosexual men who enjoy multiple sex partners getting hotheaded over Phil Robertson. Why not? They’re not organized to make political demands at the moment, but they haven’t had to fight for the right to fornicate recently. So those who are organized and in the middle of a movement are taking Robertson’s bait (or answering his duck call or whatever). It’s ‘anti-gay.’ The “bestiality” business is forefronted. This is the political game of the moment.”
Even Geraldo gets it. “I want to say it’s ridiculous to suspend him over his remarks,” Rivera said. “It’s political correctness that’s gotten malignant,” noting that Robertson’s views on homosexuality, while now culturally disfavored, were the majority viewpoint for most Americans not ten years ago. “I would have said something on the order of, ‘His views are vile, according to many people. We don’t agree. We don’t endorse his views, but he has the right to have his point of view. My fear is, by victimizing or targeting people like Robertson, what you do is you dilute the main message — the message of tolerance.”
There are professions where public expressions of such sentiments can’t be tolerated. I have written here about teachers who condemn gays on their blogs: that is disqualifying, just as expressing dislike for women or blacks. A public servant advocating less than full human and citizen’s rights for any group of Americans, or a bias, religion-based or otherwise, against them, does not warrant the public trust. Reality show star, however, is not one of those professions. It is unfair for  the broadcasters of a reality show to suddenly express distaste for such a star’s counter-culture conduct, beliefs and attitudes when those are exactly the qualities that network has been profiting from, and created the show to highlight in the first place.
Most reality shows are swill, but the swill’s chef should be its defender, and not join the chorus of critics out of rank cowardice, to the detriment of free expression.
UPDATE: Well, this is unexpected. Andrew Sullivan, of all people, wrote almost the same post, at about the same time.
Sources: GQ, Mediaite 1, 2; Althouse

105 thoughts on “A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” Suspension: Reality Show Ethics And Political Correctness

  1. I would just like to point out this guy is no dumb hick, he is a shrewd businessman whose company is worth around 50 million dollars. He is also has a bachelors degree in Physical education, and a masters degree in education.

        • From the little I’ve seen and heard (I don’t watch the show) Robertson seems to be dumb like a fox. There is a VAST untapped market of people who want to see authentic people being authentic. He’s an anticelebrity, like Mike Rowe or Chuck Norris. He does what he wants, is who he says, makes a ton of money doing it, laughs at the people who don’t get it, adoesn’t have to compromise a bit, and and makes bank doing so. I think it’s refreshing to see a celebrity who says what he thinks, without trying to convince people he’s right. There’s a lot of language in that interview which claims it as his own opinion, and his own experience. I respect that.

        • Correction: You don’t build a 50 million dollar business being unintelligent or unsavvy. “Dumb”, however, has so many meanings as to be effectively meaningless in this context.

          Also, someone who’s quite savvy in some ways can be quite foolish in others — case in point: Donald Trump (see Birtherism, antivaccinationism).

  2. The main trouble here came because Phil Robertson was talking plain logic and common decency to those whose power base rests on the promulgation of illogic and indecency. Therefore, he had to be ridiculed and silenced in the approved Alinsky manner. These people know that if any source of information is not under their control or not intimidated sufficiently, people will begin to rethink the garbage they’ve been constantly fed for the last ten years. This time, however, they might have made a fatal error. This story is going viral all over the internet. A lot of people are just plain fed up with the heavy hand of political correctness and the undermining of personal virtue.

  3. And the next step came swiftly – I’ve seen three people now compare it to Martin Bashir’s getting fired.

    One man, paid to be himself as hard as he can be, answers questions about his personal beliefs with his personal beliefs. He clearly labels as his own opinion, and corectly quotes scripture which he bases his opinion on.

    The other is paid to be the face of MSNBC, and while on the clock, announces that he has the desire to see someone defacate in Sarah Palin’s mouth, fo rlittle reason other than he disagrees with her.

    I think the spiral of silence has swung in the opposite direction, and is now running widdershins. No, it’s not censorship, the first amendment doesn’t apply, and A&E are fools fordoing what they have the right to do. Somehow, I have little fear for Robertson, though. He seems to care little what is said of him, and let’s just ask Chik Fil A how standing firm in God’s word worked out for them.

    • Comparison with Bashir is wrong, illogical and offensive. To me,paraphrasing the Bible just doesn’t seem like a fair comp to calling for people to shit in a woman’s mouth —but hey, I’m biased against liberals, or so I’m told.

  4. Here’s my question. How can you have fifty million dollars and still want to do a reality show? If you had fifty million dollars and you somehow got it in an industry where fame wasn’t a necessary component, what do you need fame for? Can’t you use your own money to be the instrument of that fame so you’re not beholden to the ridiculous corporate overlords who run these ridiculous exploitative shows?

    • You’re assuming that nobody would be on a reality show unless they really needed the money. That may be true for you (I know it is for me), but maybe he gets a kick out of it. Maybe he enjoys his face being all over Wal-Mart. Maybe it’s fun for his “Hey y’all watch this” redneck moments to be watched by the nation, instead of only by whoever’s there. Plenty of reasons he could want to be on the show beyond simple greed.

  5. I have to admit that I find the prospect of a guy on a reality show as a “role model” pretty laughable. After all, these people are usually paid outrageous sums to act like idiots, the “train wreck” that so many people can’t turn their eyes from. I find it even sillier that someone like Robertson is taken seriously on anything other than the lifestyle he lives – the moral status of homosexuality, theology, or other matters seem to be stuff nobody should be taking seriously. We ain’t talking Michael Sandel or Stephen Hawking (or Jack Marshall) here, ya know.

    There’s an argument for the suspension, though, that’s circulating that I don’t totally agree with: this is an economic decision on the part of A&E; In essence, while Robertson has a right to say whatever he wants to, A&E has the right to sanction him from using their network as a platform. I can quibble with this on a couple of levels. First, Robertson didn’t make the offending comments on A&E. Second, while I find Robertson’s comments distasteful and, well, ignorant, I have to wonder if this is in principle any different than, say, the exclusion of Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon several years ago from an appearance at the Baseball Hall of Fame (marking the anniversary of the film “Bull Durham”) for anti-war activity during the Iraq War. Third, I know the show is over-promoted as it is (I was recently in a Wal-Mart and there was more “Duck Dynasty” stuff than holiday stuff, and that’s not an exaggeration), but doesn’t this end up promoting the show? Bottom line: can A&E suspend (or fire) Robertson? Yes. Should they? Probably not.

    Side note, and true story: when I first saw a print ad for the show, I thought it was some sort of parody film starring Mandy Patinkin (b/c of the resemblance of the one member of the Robertson clan and “Saul” from “Homeland”.)

  6. Can there be any doubt now that the gay community has now become the bullies, and the “religious right” types are now the targets of said bullying? All with the acquiescence, if not the outright support of this country’s elites in entertainment, the legal arena, and even among many politicians.

    • Don’t be silly – gay people can’t be bullies, black people can’t be racist, the slippery slope is not possible, gay marriage won’t lead to other specialized groups pressing for acceptance, the left can’t be intolerant, women can’t be sexist, Christians can’t be persecuted, the rich can’t be good, capitalism can’t be fair, women can’t be against abortion, the Democratic party was never in favor of segregation or slavery, the state is flawless, the economy is recovering nicely, Obamacare is working out just fine, and Obama can walk on water. Who are you gonna believe? Me, or your own lying eyes?

      • “Don’t be silly…and Obama can walk on water.”
        Thanks Aaron, your sarcasm is my laugh highlight for this week. I suppose my laughing at what you wrote at Dec 19-3:56 pm might be unethical. I laugh anew, bitterly this time, because there are probably more people than anyone would guess, who think what you wrote is not sarcastic. I do wonder how, if she was being interviewed, Barbara Walters would respond to what you wrote.

  7. 4th point is slightly wrong, the interview does give an indication of how Robertson treats homosexuals a few paragraphs after the second excerpt in response to the same question, if Griffin bothered to read it.

    “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. 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?”

  8. Reading carefully, Griffin’s statement didn’t ask A&E to “censor” at all. He called on them to disagree publicly. A&E did the suspension without being asked, at least not by GLAAD.

    Jack’s main point, as usual, is sound — his argument centers on the star not being imaginably any kind of spokesman for A&E. I can imagine no argument there.

    There’s also the issue that he wasn’t on company time.

    Neither was Lindsay Stone, though. Heaven knows I’ve missed obvious things before, but the difference doesn’t seem clear-cut to me. Both were offensive to many people. Both were clearly not representing their employer. The best I can come up with is that Lindsay Stone was trolling and not expressing a religious belief, and that A&E has nothing to lose if people think they hire fools.

    • You can’t possibly think this is analogous to Lindsay Stone, unless you have information I don’t that her ex-employer, Living Independently Forever, hired her to hang around and amuse their customers with hi jinx like giving the finger to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A. is a hired entertainer whose conduct was in no way different from what was expected and had been exhibited in the entertainment contract, B was an employee whose off the clock conduct embarrassed her employer. Obviously A&E was not embarrassed, because it hosts the show in the first place. Living Independently Forever was embarrassed. A&E caved to political correctness.

      • Well, I do agree that if A&E hires someone and it’s consistent with “what was expected” and “exhibited in the entertainment contract” for him to say that gays are like animal rapists and that Jim Crow era blacks were happy, then it’s cowardice for A&E to back away (and a coarsening of society to do it in the first place, a complaint you’ve properly made about “reality programming” in general).

        • Go back and re-read the question and re-read the answer. The manufactured outrage over the “jim crow” comment is even more hyperbolic and illogical than the manufactured outrage over his homosexual comment.

  9. Phil Robertson has every right to hold whatever views he believes in, regardless of if I (or anyone else) agrees with those beliefs.

    The people in charge of A&E have every right to remove any personality from their network if that person voices an opinion that they disagree with or if that person takes actions that would cost the network money.

    I am not shocked or surprised that Phil Robertson holds the ideas that he does, especially in comparing homosexuality to animal rape. (And yes, he did compare homosexuality to animal rape, it is a common trope amongst anti-homsexual bigots). He also said that all those other sinful acts START from homosexuality and the first step from homosexuality is bestiality.

    I am also sure that when Phil Robertson agreed to be on a show on the A&E network that they made him sign some sort of document, let’s call it a contract, that stipulated the conditions that A&E would be free to suspend Mr. Robertson for. And I am sure those stipulations either include offensive remarks or include the terms “not limited to” that should include all non-printed suspendable actions. If Mr Robertson didn’t want to be under the terms of such a contract then he shouldn’t have signed it and as such wouldn’t have been on the show. If I had to guess, it is likely why the Robinson brother who was a preacher chose to not be on the show at the beginning. He likely didn’t want to be constrained by the terms of the contract that would then remove him from the show for preaching something others might find offensive. (I am not saying he preaches offensive things, I am just saying that the contract might be subjective enough to make him have to restrain himself in a position where one normally want to be restrained).

    A&E has not censored Mr Robertson. He is still able to share his opinions on life, religion, faith, values, and comparing homosexuals with animal rapists all he wants. He just cannot have a soapbox on their network while suspended.

      • What do you think is an unreasonable assumption? That such stipulations are in his A&E contract? That his preacher brother would likely not want to sign such contract with such stiplations while he was still a preacher?

        • These:

          “I am not shocked or surprised that Phil Robertson holds the ideas that he does”

          Conclusion based on stereotyping. I thought you lefties were above that.

          “especially in comparing homosexuality to animal rape. (And yes, he did compare homosexuality to animal rape, it is a common trope amongst anti-homsexual bigots).”

          If you’d bother to do a little more research into Phil’s public statements on treatment of people (which is extensive, given he speaks often), you’d know he isn’t a bigot.

          “He also said that all those other sinful acts START from homosexuality and the first step from homosexuality is bestiality.”

          This has already been debunked by others on here. Basically you draw a conclusion from a weak argument making unreasonable assumptions of his meaning.

          “I am also sure that when Phil Robertson agreed to be on a show on the A&E network that they made him sign some sort of document, let’s call it a contract, that stipulated the conditions that A&E would be free to suspend Mr. Robertson for.”

          Duh. Smart ass.

          ” And I am sure those stipulations either include offensive remarks or include the terms “not limited to” that should include all non-printed suspendable actions. If Mr Robertson didn’t want to be under the terms of such a contract then he shouldn’t have signed it and as such wouldn’t have been on the show.”

          Vague of assertions don’t allow you to formulate specific conclusions.

          “If I had to guess, it is likely why the Robinson brother who was a preacher chose to not be on the show at the beginning. He likely didn’t want to be constrained by the terms of the contract that would then remove him from the show for preaching something others might find offensive. (I am not saying he preaches offensive things, I am just saying that the contract might be subjective enough to make him have to restrain himself in a position where one normally want to be restrained).”

          If you’d bother to do a little more research on this topic (which I know you won’t, knowledge will keep you from pushing your uninformed kneejerk opinions), you’d know that he didn’t join the show because his time is fully consumed with the ministry and he didn’t want to detract from that.

          • A) I live in Louisiana. There is a lot of that kind of behavior here. I am not shocked to find out that there is one more.

            B) People who say homosexuality morphs into bestiality are bigots.

            C) That you say it was debunked, even that you can point to others who agree with you, does not prove it was debunked.

            D) I believe that shows would have such terms in their contracts. If you disagree, that is fine. But the assumption that such clauses would exist is reasonable.

            E) Yes, I know he was a full time preacher. That is why I said what I said. A full time preacher would likely not want to be under the terms of the contract. It would likely be a conflict of interest.

            • A) your residence is irrelevant. You applied a stereotype to an individual. Shame on you lefty. Oh wait, its ok for lefties to use stereotypes.

              B) you’ve been debunked on this time an again. Continuing to appeal to a fallacious argument only makes you look dumb.

              C) its not right because they agree with me. It’s right because they’ve demonstrated how you are wrong. I choose not to rehash that demonstration.

              D) it doesn’t. You made vague comments and drew definitive conclusions.

              E) wrong. His being a full time preacher gets in the way of devoting time to te show. Your objection would be like me saying “you chose not to be on duck dynasty because you don’t like the terms that prohibit you from saying what you want” and your response being “I have a full time job that I like to do instead” and me responding “ha! Like I said you don’t like the terms of the contract”

              Do you see how your argument made no sense whatsoever??

              • I applied the meaning to a bigot who used a bigoted idea that homosexuality leads to (morphs to) animal rape. Denying he did this means you are putting your head in the sand and that you are being an apologist for a bigot. There is NO OTHER EXPLANATION that is logical or reasonable and anyone denying this is fooling themselves at the VERY LEAST.

    • He did NOT say that all the sexual sins start from homosexuality as a first step, unless you think that homosexuality is the first step to being a man with multiple female sexual partners (which he also mentioned). He said HE was going to start there and move on, and bestiality is comparable to homosexuality in that they are both sexual sins of comission. If you ask a Catholic, urinating on a crucifix and taking communion without confession are the same type of sin as well, it doesn’t mean that one leads to another.

      Second, Jack points out in his post that A&E is almost certainly within their rights (they would have to be stupid to leave themselves open to a lawsuit on this). I don’t like the “censorship” label either, as I reserve that for government action. However, I still find their stance repugnant. He did not advocate any action or descrimination against gays, rather he said to love them and spread the word of God. This being in an interview where he was asked about his personal beliefs, and resulting in being suspended/fired from a show where he purports to be himself. A&E puts on a show supposedly about these people’s real lives, but will fire them for being themselves in a way that makes someone upset. It’s certainly legal on their part, but is certainly disingenuous. “Come look at these people, see how the othert half lives! Unless something about how they lives makes you grumpy, then we’ll fire them real good!”

      • A&E does run that risk that their reality shows will be viewed as not being completely real. Of course most people know that most reality shows are edited. Those who do not are the ones who likely believe the events that take place in Professional Wrestling are not scripted either.

        And he absolutely did say that Homosexuality leads to beastiality and those other things. “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…”

        Yes, his statement is illogical. Sex with multiple women doesn’t seem like something that would morph out from homosexuality. But he still said it.

        • I misread you before- you’re not just accusing him of thinking gay is the first step to beastiality, you accuse him of saying that the FIRST step from gay is beastiality. Then you think he says gay progresses to lots of straight sex. Has it occurred to you that maybe you’re trying to force the worst possible interpretation on him? That he’s saying HE is going to start with homosesuality and move on from there in what he talks about, rather than that all the things he talk about wiht subsequently start with homosexuality? Or maybe you think he also is claming that drunks and liars started out by being gay too?

          • I assume he was rambling. Perhaps he doesn’t know what he is talking about. But he does state that it starts from homosexuality and goes to things like those other things listed INCLUDING animal rape.

            If you do not see how horrible such a statement is, well, sorry but we will likely not agree on this issue.

            I do find it odd that these are the words that HE said yet I am the one who is in the wrong here.

            He is free to clarify if he believes that gay sex leads to animal rape. I will amend my stance accordingly if he does.

            • “I do find it odd that these are the words that HE said yet I am the one who is in the wrong here.”

              Because you are the one taking the least intuitive interpretation of what he said.

              • Your opinion is that they are the least intuitive. Having experienced plenty of good ole Louisiana bigotry and seen the comparisons they make, my interpretation is the MOST intuitive.

        • Not that it matters, but that’s not a logical interpretation of what he said, unless you think he said that homosexuality also leads to sleeping around with this woman and that woman—which he clearly did not intend to say.

          • There are people who believe that the Kinsey scale is valid and that people are not just gay or straight. He may very well believe that people who are depraved enough to sleep with other men would also sleep with animals and different women and men.

            I don’t know what goes on in the minds of bigoted rednecks. It is not what I think. It is what he said.

            • You’re being desperate and silly. That is not the clear meaning of what he said. He was listing a range of sins, not suggesting they led to each other.The Althouse quote addressed this. She’s exactly right.

              • You seen to be neglecting the words “just morph out from there” even though you did quote them.

                He started with one sin…. others MORPH OUT FROM THERE. What do you think that means if not to imply some starting point?

                • What you allege makes no sense, Dan. What the rational among us interpret him to say is reasonable based on his premise. A basic rule of construction is to interpret ones words and intentions to make sense if at all possible. Doing otherwise to win a weak argument is poor form.

                  • It makes absolute sense because it is coming from a man who says goofy things.

                    His words follow the line of thinking of many Conservatives who believe that being tollerant to homosexuals is a slippery slope that leads to animal rape. How many times have you heard individuals say that if gay people can marry then that would mean people would be able to marry their dog?

                    Come on Jack.

                    • Horrible connection. Utter non sequitur. Or false analogy, its hard to tell considering how incorrect your logic is.

                      YOU have asserted that his meaning is to be interpreted as someone starting down the road of homosexuality with inevitably lead to partaking in bestiality and after that wild promiscuity with heterosexual partners.

                      Now you say this parallels the conservative slippery slope argument that once society appeals to the agitations of the homosexual community, then the multi-sexual or animal-sexual communities will begin agitating and the community will then give into their wishes.

                      Utterly unrelated.

                      You are really grasping for straws.

                    • He didn’t say “goofy things” at all. They are logical to people who think as he does. Lots of heterosexuals cannot comprehend homosexuality. “Ew!” is not “goofy.”

                    • There are other goofy things that he has said, both on the show and in the interview. I mean, black people liking Jim Crow? Seriously?

                    • Dude. The Jim Crow quote by Phil Robertson?

                      If you want anyone to take your commentary seriously, you really need to stop taking quotes and adding meaning that isn’t there. This leftist habit of yours is detrimental to your argument as well as to the left.

                • Dan. For serious. Your interpretation is gibberish. You have now made the assumption that he was 1) rambling near incoherence and 2) believes that gay sex leads to heterosexual promiscuity. Following your interpretation, he then believes that you will become a drunk slanderous swindling prostitute. None of those things make sense as conseqent of homosexuality, either in orientation or in act.

                  Conversely, look at the other interpretation being presented here. When asked about sin he starts with homosexuality (obviously the sin he thinks troubles the nation the most, which I happen to disagree with) and moves on from there. He’s not following a causal link of actions, he’s following an internal link of association- starting with homosexuality, he then goes on to list OTHER sexual sins. They are related because they are all sexual sins, not because one leads to another.

                  • The comments on prostitution were part of another point he was making, that all of those groups wont enter the kingdom of God. In the first sentance he was talking about what homosexuality “morphs” into. In the second he just listed people who wont get eternal rewards.

                    If you don’t think his first sentance implied causality, then what did he mean by “morphs”? Give me an answer for that, a good logical answer, and perhaps I will change my mind. Until then, morphs will mean leads to for me.

                    • A good logical answer: They asked him what he thought sin was. He was talking about his topic shift, not the sinful action. He was moving onward from homosexuality to other sexual sins. If he ONLY said homosexuality and beastiality, you might have a leg to stand on, but he also includes heterosexual promiscuity in the same place. It is blithering idiocy to suggest that being gay turns you into a ladies man, making your interpretation rely on him being a total idiot. Or, you can assume he was using the word “morph” as a transition of his speech, not of the actions he was talking about. In that case you have him starting with one sexual sin and moving on to other sexual sins, which are related in that they are all sex-related. Oh hey look, that makes sense… but we can’t have that, we can’t just disagree with him, we have to accuse him of incoherence to force the most offensive possible interpretation onto his words.

                    • I think all of you are crazy for trying to dissect his spoken comments with such technical precision. In any event, who knows? Perhaps there was an intended semi-colon somewhere in his comments that didn’t get transcribed. A semi-colon would change this whole discussion. 

    • “The people in charge of A&E have every right to remove any personality from their network if that person voices an opinion that they disagree with or if that person takes actions that would cost the network money.”

      Yes, but that’s not the question on the table.

      Was exercising their presumed contractual rights, for that reason, ethical?

      Was that an exercise of free association, or a use of economic pressure to discourage expression of an opinion?

      There’s at least two sides to those questions.

      • Yes, exercising presumed contractual rights is ethical. Their responsibility is to not cause their network (or the owners of the network) to suffere financial loss. If they believe keeping him on the show will do that, it is their responsibility to take him off the air.

        If they are wrong and removing him causes a loss of more money then I am sure some people will get fired and others will replace them.

      • And why is it that when a person says they do not like what happened on a program that they are told by Conservatives to change the channel. But if many people stand up and say that they will change the channel because they don’t like what happened that is all of a sudden the “use of economic pressure to discourage expression of an opinion” (as you put it)?

      • Wrong analogy, AM. The people ordering the cake are the customers- A&E isn’t trying to ban anyone from giving them money to watch the channel. If the cake company had a frosting technician that made public statements that embarrassed them, there would hopefully not be any legal obstacle against them firing that frosting tech.

    • Maybe, but I’m not sure if I’d buy the argument. Just because Robertson throws in “they won’t inherit the kingdom of God” at the end, is this primarily a religious argument, or is it more a matter of him expressing personal predilections that might be fueled by any number of things (good ol’ boy culture and his own sexual orientation, as evidenced by the “vagina vs. anus” comments as much as his religious beliefs)? Yes, there’s religious language at the end (and opponents have IMNSHO dispatched his argument that homosexuality is a sin on par with promiscuity and, even worse bestiality by comparing homosexuality with other sins like working on the sabbath, eating shrimp dinners and playing football – there’s a clip from “The West Wing” that pretty effectively lays out the counter-argument). [Note: I still hold that A&E shouldn’t suspend him for this, I’m just not buying into the religious angle any more than I’m buying into Robertson’s lumping homosexuality with promiscuity and bestiality).

  10. I agreed with everything you said until you got to this line: “A&E can decide to dump any employee it chooses if it concludes that the employee, fairly or unfairly, threatens its bottom line. That’s not what’s happening here, though.”

    I’ve never seen this show but it is my understanding that this is its biggest hit ever. A&E needs to protect its ad revenue and merchandise. Whether A&E fires him, lifts the suspension, or brings him back with open arms and a champagne toast, my guess is whatever action A&E takes (rightly or wrongly) is because of money. Even if it is bowing to the political left, it is because of money.

  11. Mr. Marshall:
    I keep hearing that A&E as a private concern has the right to terminate its relationship with Phil Robertson based on statements made by the latter. The premise is that if Robertson says something that A&E does not like or affects its bottom line negatively then as a private concern it has a fiduciary duty to the stockholders to eliminate the threat to the firm’s profitability; that would be the ethical thing to do.

    OK I get it.

    Lets assume that America rally’s to the defense of Phil Robertson because they felt he had the right to believe as he does and should not be proscribed from articulating that belief. As a result, the pro Robertson group organizes and boycotts A&E for offending their sensibilities. Does the network now have to rehire Robertson because this boycott actually threatens the economic interests of the shareholders.

    This begs the question, if a certain group of people with a certain set of beliefs threaten the financial viability of the enterprise does that legitimately empower the enterprise to cease to transact any business with the offending group? If so can Hobby Lobby decide not to do business with any group that could threaten its bottom line. When does the mobilization of forces end?

    How does A&E justify its position when a court ruled recently that a baker HAD to sell and deliver a cake to a gay couple for their wedding to which the baker was opposed to on moral religious grounds. Were there no other bakers in town or was this an unnecessary judicial remedy to silence one that disagrees by embarrassing them publically? Is it egregious to use the courts to satisfy a social desire when a non-judicial means is at hand , less costly, and more expedient? If the government can mandate a local baker who it does business with, does it also have the right to force another business to not transact business with the baker to advance a prescribed social agenda?

    In the Robertson case, it is employment related. Are his religious beliefs subservient to another’s that are in direct opposition. Neither atheists, Jews nor Muslims believe that Jesus is the messiah and it perhaps offends them to have to hear about Christianity; and vice versa. At what point must we tell the opposing point of view that it must remain silent to protect our profits or prophets?

  12. A & E pulled the trigger a lot faster than did MSNBC with Bashir & Baldwin.

    Yet Al Sharpton still has a show which, granted, few people watch. It still is MSNBC after all.

    That Sharpton and Baldwin (with well-documented pasts) were given a slots to begin with is curious to say the least.

  13. I think the real tragedy out of all of this is that most Americans have no understanding of the First Amendment — including some of our politicians. Go USA!

    • I’ve put these sentiments on a few facebook walls of friends angsting over this, and I’m hoping you appreciate them as well:

      This has jack to do with the 1A in its literal form. That protects you from government censorship, so A&E has the right to take any action in response to his comments, from “oooh, you stirred notice for yourself, have a raise” to “you’re banned from our shows forever.” A TV Network isn’t Government.

      Where this DOES touch on the 1A isn’t in the amendment’s protections, but in its affect on our lives. It was designed to encourage a culture of debate and speech. To me, the crowds that leapt immediately to the battering ram of “He said a thing I don’t like, so FIRE HIM RIGHT NOW” are showing a vast antipathy toward the concept of free speech. Their actions do not violate the 1A, but they show a mindset that demands that speech they don’t like be silenced and punished, and that worries me a bit.

      • Looks identical to many of my FB posts from last night. But, truthfully, I have little sympathy for this guy — and not because I strongly disagree with his comments. Every employee has to be mindful of his/her employer’s interests – I am in a client-facing job that requires me to work with the C-Suite of many of the Fortune 500’s and AmLaw 100 firms. Many of my clients have differing political, social, and religious views from me. My terms of employment – not to mention common sense — prohibit me from making any kind of public statement (or private statement to a client) that could jeopardize my company. If I do that, I know I could be fired.

        • If he were some guy, I would be behind you 100%. The only part that strikes me sideways is that he is in a reality show, ostensibly being paid to be himself. I find it rather disingenuous on the network’s part to hire him to act like himself and (probably) encourage him to exaggerate his redneck-ness, but discipline him for doing it too well. Reality stars do lots of things that a normal employee of a normal company would get fired for, because that is what they’re hired to do. Even still, I’m only raising a mild eyebrow at the company, it’s the “fire him for being mean!” people that drive me nuts.

        • That’s right, Beth, but you should have sympathy with the victims of a bait and switch. A&E was happily profiting from his family being what it is, and then suddenly decided that the same values were repugnant because people who would never watch the show object to them.

          • If the terms of his contract include a clause that would allow any of them to be removed from the air for airing views that reflect poorly on the network, I wouldn’t call that bait and switch.

            And I think it is VERY safe to assume that such a clause exists in their contract. If not, then A&E would be quite dumb.

            • It certainly is bait and switch. “We’re going to makie money off of you parading your God-fearing, traditional values on TV, but if you express those beliefs in an interview, we’re invoking this vague clause in your contract.” Given the show, Phil R. had no way to know that answering a question honestly would lose him his job.

              Nobody, at least not me, is arguing that A&E can’t punish him. It’s just cowardly and hypocritical, as well as a sop to vicious political correctness.

          • Then A&E will suffer the consequences if viewers drop off or if the other cast members legally get out of their contracts. It’s still A&E’s perogative — the market will decide who is right.

              • Not true. That’s my consistent view with inappropriate statements by Olberman, Limbaugh, Maher, etc. I do agree with Jack that journalists should be held to a higher standard — but I guess I do differ re Baldwin. I think Baldwin is an ass, but he is not a journalist.

                One thing you have to remember about liberal “purists” like me Tex (I made up that title, not sure it’s correct), we love the Bill of Rights too. So, we will defend this asshole’s right to say whatever he wants if the government tries to censor him. But we don’t give a damn whether he’s fired or given a huge raise by the network. And as for Jack’s bait-and-switch point re A&E, I don’t care about that either and I’m not even sure his analysis is correct. It’s not for us to question the contractual motives at play here — my guess is that the motive on both sides was money.

                Liberals like me share a lot in common with the non-idiot branch of the Tea Party. If we could find middle ground re the amount and breadth of government spending, the Republican party would die a swift death.

                Now, anyone else troubled by the fact that just about everyone in the country has weighed in on this topic, millions have signed an online petition, but we can’t get more than 30% of voters to show up at the polls.

                America is indeed doomed.

  14. Here I go, doing shameless self-promotion (but really, it’s only incidental, since what I really mean to say is that Jack hit a home run by posting in such close time proximity about utterances by Phil Robertson and Jennifer Lawrence):

    I guess A&E had to clear its schedule, so it could catch up with the culture and start running a new show that would be an even bigger hit. I suggested the show format and name, in a comment on Jack’s post about Jennifer Lawrence’s dunce-ity.

  15. Memories of duck hunting with my now 88 1/2 year old dear Father are less than good. Sitting in a windy blind on the Mississippi River Bagley (WI) bottoms in the early november pre-dawn chill, freezing my patootie in the quest to get a couple of small waterfowl that taste like liver.

    Who the heck is buying all these duck calls? If the business is worth 50 rocks, the margins on them must be out of this world! And it’s not as if they wear out, my dad’s had his for over 65 years.

  16. I’m just grateful that lately, we have not heard Alec Baldwin say anything like what Phil Robertson said. Gotta police both ends of the show-popularity spectrum, you know. Just to be fair.

    Whaddya bet? Robertson is off the air forever; Baldwin will be seen in new commercials, shows, movies and as a guest or host on nighttime talk shows within the next few months, deliberately making wink-wink fun of his own speech crimes just to reinforce the (phony) point that he has “evolved.”

    • Please don’t support, even in jest, the dangerous tendency to compare unprofessional and embarrassing public conduct that an employer should not tolerate (Baldwin) with beliefs that society at large and emp[loyers should not only tolerate but encourage debate about rather than silence. Baldwin had a history of using homophobic epithets in public, and was hired as a journalist. Robertson is a borderline entertainer (I’m not sure what a reality star is, and while he religious beliefs may be offensive to many, they were not phrased in vulgar or hateful fashion, and a pluralistic society should be able to absorb them without exacting penalties.

      • Jack: I did not and do not support, even in jest, the dangerous tendency to compare that you speak of. But the culture in which we are immersed does support just that, in jest and in seriousness. Hence my “Whaddya bet?” It’s not what one says anymore that matters most. What matters most now is, whom is offended by what one says (never mind even why). It’s a pettiness-obsessed, impatient, ignorant yet arrogant, reactionary-cowardly culture that is primed for most of its members to be cowed and abused for many generations by a self-serving few control freaks.

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