Ethics Dunces (“Duck Dynasty” vs Political Correctness Division): Republicans

freedomofspeechLet us be clear: Phil Robertson’s comments about gay Americans in “Gentleman’s Quarterly” were, as matter of fact, profoundly insulting to a large group of citizens who do not deserve to be insulted and have every reason to feel attacked and offended.

That does not mean that the position Phil Robertson holds, which is an unfortunate ancient remnant of traditional religion-based morality that will only be addressed by time, education, patience and dialogue, should be suppressed, declared taboo, or made the basis of job-related sanctions when it is part of the reality of those in his culture, and he is the star of a reality show based on that culture.

Thus the principles of tolerance, diversity, freedom of thought, expression and religious belief can and should be properly defended by raising objections to A&E’s quick capitulation to the pressures of political correctness.

That does not mean that it is appropriate, considerate, reasonable or smart for public officials like Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to declare their support for Robertson himself and his retrograde and destructive beliefs. Calling an entire group of law-abiding Americans “sinners” because one’s religion has chosen to ignore the advances in knowledge of the past century is not the mark of “a great citizen,” to quote Jindal. It is the mark of a sadly misled and ignorant citizen, who nonetheless is representative of another large group of Americans who have the right to express their outmoded views without sanctions even if they are dead, dead wrong.

Cheering on Phil Robertson can only be interpreted as cheering his denigration of gays. The leaders of a national party should not be denigrating anyone. Standing up for the free exchange of ideas? Absolutely. Insisting that those who hold on to the long-held beliefs of their chosen religion are not marginalized by the media? Yes. But applauding when a reality star calls all gay Americans sinners?

Wrong.

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Graphic: Greenwich Roundup

50 thoughts on “Ethics Dunces (“Duck Dynasty” vs Political Correctness Division): Republicans

        • It’s all “okay.” It just isn’t kind. Sure, saying “we’re all sinners” is fine, but it’s often used in this context as a fake balm, as in—“You’re a sinner—you violate God’s law and decency by having filthy sex with men…I’m a sinner, too: I was late returning my library book.” I think designated sinners see through that.

      • “Calling people sinners is destructive. Especially when they aren’t part of the moral system that designates them so.”

        A big “HUH?!” here, but never mind; I’m done with this topic.

        • What he means is, if I as a Catholic remind another Catholic “you’re a sinner too, don’t be judgemental” or even “please, reconsider what you’re doing, you’re on a sinful path” that Catholic, comign from the same place as me, will hopefully take my words to heart. If I bad-dog my atheist friends for something that’s only considered wrong by Catholics- fish on Friday, skipping church, premarital sex and condoms- they’re either going to laugh at me or feel insulted, because they don’t see their actions as sinful, so my admonishment simply comes off as an unwarranted judgement.

  1. “That does not mean that the position Phil Robertson holds, which is an unfortunate ancient remnant of traditional religion-based morality that will only be addressed by time, education, patience and dialogue,”
    This. You certainly have the right to say it. You might even have the obligation to say it, because it’s your belief. Traditional Christians don’t believe it. There are a lot of traditional Christians who believe that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and that all of the things you mention are equally true applied the other way. It’s all part of a respectful dialogue. Having a respectful dialogue is a good thing. So if I say the position the gay activists hold is an unfortunate socially destructive immorality that has historically proven to precede the fall of a culture, I hope you will take it as constructive.

    • I work, often, in a profession dominated by gay men and women. I work with them every day, know their habits, attitudes, life-style, values and character. No one could know these fine human beings and good Americans and argue that they are contributing to the fall of a culture, or anything else. The statement is the product of traditional fear and misunderstanding, and nothing else. It can’t be defended logically, but only by cant and enforced morality based on reasoning long overtaken by enlightenment and fact. Eventually, it will be lodged in the same museum with the belief that a woman couldn’t be trusted to vote and blacks ‘lacked the necessities” to be baseball executives. I am sympathetic to those caught in cultural whiplash—my parents, who were smart, kind, people, were—but the position is as doomed as believing that Noah had to shoo dinosaurs off the Ark.

        • Not only that, Granny, but at this point Jack seems to be saying (though I know him better, I think, but I worry for how a reader might misconstrue) another rendition of the tired admission of prejudice, despite himself: “Some of the people I know best are [sexual minorities].”

        • All cultures fail, at least they have so far, that is historically accurate. I embrace homosexuality and I will fail, soon, that is physiologically accurate. Many valiant endeavours and noble causes fail, that is arguably accurate. Expain what failure has to do with morality, please?

          • The reason for the failure is a loss of morality. I’m talking big picture. I think it’s possible to sustain a culture that does not fail. Just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The cultures that historically last the longest are the cultures that have a moral foundation and stick with it the longest. When I say a loss of morality I’m not just talking about sexual morality or even Christian morality, I’m talking about a system of morality that allows people the maximum freedom of choice and has a system of reliably fair consequences for making damaging choices.

            • Ok, so for you immorality (the word loss imples ‘had once before’ so i’ll avoid it) precedes cultulral failure because morality is defined as any culture that permits non-damaging choices but penalises culturally damaging choices? I hope that’s fair and right?
              What would you call a culture that in essence permits and endorses cultural change over time? Immoral because it changes or moral because it is fixed? I’m referring to western culture based on Ancient Rome and Greek philosophy – which has changed over time, but is still Western as in ‘freely rationally enquiring’. And which at times has embraced homosexuallty, arguably?

              • I would say a culture that has a moral philosophy that works and who then permits it to fundamentally change in ways that do not work is in danger of failing.

                • So the part of western culture that is christian, wedded to fixity and does not embrace homosexuality is in danger of failing but the part that is not necessarily irreligious but values free thoght and free faith and cultural change and embraces homosexuality is not.

                  That’s ok then.

                  • If that’s how you choose to interpret what I said you are twisting my words. Western culture is based on certain values. One of them is the family as the basic unit of society. that is not just a Christian value.

                    • The term ‘that’s ok then’ sounded flippant and dismissive. For the rest, as I believe it, and i think it does follow logically, i make no apology. Western culture in one sense is based on Plato – his ideal republic would not suit you at all. I would actually say it takes a village to raise a child well so for me the community, collective, tribe, clan, extended family or group of 20-200 individuals is the basic unit of society because children come first. Fidelity in marriage is probably something we could agree on. As is chastity before marriage. As long as it includes gay marriage and easy divorce. The only Western value i’d really cling to for dear life is truth.

                • I wouldn’t say that a moral culture that forces completely benign and productive human beings to closet themselves, live a lie, and be in constant fear of exposure that will cost them their careers, family and future, not to mention risking being beaten to death, can be said to be firing on all pistons. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” only makes sense if nothing’s broken.

  2. You are correct, even as your assertaions (and others, from less tolerant people) that those who hold those views are “misled” “outmoded” ” ignorant” “unfortunate” and “dead, dead wrong” has the possibility of being equally insulting and offensive. The sauce that’s fit for the goose is equally as good for the gander.

    • Saying someone is wrong is not in the same category as saying someone is unnatural and evil. If someone is insulted by being called wrong, they need to grow up.

      Especially when they ARE wrong.

      • “Cheering on Phil Robertson can only be interpreted as cheering his denigration of gays. The leaders of a national party should not be denigrating anyone. Standing up for the free exchange of ideas? Absolutely. Insisting that those who hold on to the long-held beliefs of their chosen religion are not marginalized by the media? Yes. But applauding when a reality star calls all gay Americans sinners? Wrong.”

        Jack: If you’re going to stand up for the free exchange of ideas, you also must stand up for tolerance of “denigration speech” and “cheering on” in that exchange – whether intentional or unintentional, incidental or not, gentle or coarse, civil or not (at least with “speech” that is only spoken or written words), respectful or not, supported by science or not, hateful or loving etc.

        I will fight against the establishment of a police state which seeks to punish free thinkers and free speakers whose speech does not meet the orthodoxy tests of “offended” individuals and factions.

  3. “time, education, patience and dialogue”

    Were we, as a society, wrong to make open racism taboo? Are the cases different?

    It is a taboo economically enforced: it is possible to lose an executive-level job for using an n-bomb in public.

    You make a case I respect that the remedy for damaging speech should be good speech rather than economic pressure. Understood. Yet, in the case of racism we eventually hit a point where we decided there had been enough time, education, patience and dialogue. What’s the touchstone for knowing when that point has been reached?

    • I’d say at the point where the culture has had a chance to adjust. Normalizing gay relations in the US is about at the point race relations were 60 years ago. I don’t believe there are any more well- intentioned, educated, intelligent racists. I believe that there are still millions of good people who simply don’t understand homosexuality because the subject was taboo and governed by myth and fear for so long.

      I also think, while essentially making racist rhetoric a cultural taboo was necessary given the history of race in the US, we pay a huge price for it every day, in the manipulation of this taboo for political advantage and the stifling of legitimate opinion by the threat of racism accusations.

    • Honestly, I think taboos are a cultural disease in the first place. They inhibit communication, which in turn prevents people from learning more accurate ways of viewing the world. As a freethinker, I hold that in general taboos are not solutions. They just force people to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist, until a relevant decision must be made and then people don’t even know how to communicate with each other anymore, so they start talking right past each other.

      To an extent there is a taboo on any political discussion, and it is a self-perpetuating problem. Without practice, people can’t have a constructive discussion, and they therefore conclude that they shouldn’t discuss certain things, so they never practice. That’s why politics these days tends to be people making loud noises and then doing what they want, without addressing other people’s concerns in solutions or even in discussions because they’ve dismissed them as unimportant.

      Also, I am utterly disappointed in the philosophical literacy rate of mainstream human culture. People have very little idea how to think about the way they think about things, and the ways in which their perceptions might differ from others’.

    • Honestly, I think taboos are a cultural disease in the first place. They inhibit communication, which in turn prevents people from learning more accurate ways of viewing the world. As a freethinker, I hold that in general taboos are not solutions. They just force people to pretend that a difference in perception doesn’t exist, until a decision must be made that requires input from those different perceptions. By then people don’t even know how to communicate with each other anymore, so they start talking right past each other.

      To an extent there is a standing taboo on any political discussion between regular people (whose input is supposed to be informing the direction of this country), and this taboo is a self-perpetuating problem. Without practice, people can’t have a constructive discussion, and they therefore conclude that they shouldn’t discuss certain things, so they never practice. That’s why politics these days tends to be people making loud noises and then doing what they want, without addressing other people’s concerns in solutions or even in discussions because they’ve dismissed them as unimportant.

      Also, I am utterly disappointed in the philosophical literacy rate of mainstream human culture. People demonstrate very little idea how to think about the way they think about things, and the ways in which their perceptions might differ from others’.

  4. I must say, I expected a saner take on this whole matter. Anyone who glances at a tabloid knows that reality shows depend on “behind the scenes” scandal to boost ratings, as following around the same group of people invariably gets dull and loses viewers. As Duck Dynasty had the (dubious) luck of gaining a right-wing audience (along with a left-wing audience who watches it with “irony”), the “behind the scenes” scandal is politically loaded. Does any sane person think Robertson made homophobic remarks in a magazine with a heavily gay readership for any other reason than giving Duck Dynasty a publicity bump? This season he can be a brave martyr to free expression, rather than a bearded man with a show everyone’s bored of.

    • I think, under these circumstances, that’s an absurd theory. This is the highest rated cable reality show in history. They were on the top of the world. It makes no sense to rock the boat now.

    • By the way, you owe me a real email. “None of your business” is not a legitimate (or original) address, and I make it my business that anyone posting here has some accountability and that I can contact them off site. Sorry, those are the rules here.

    • Someone keeps yelling ‘Fire!’ in a crowded cinema, and you ignore them on the grounds that they are cearly an idiot, and you see many people are cottoning on to the fact. Even if the guy steals a megaphone so everyone can hear, and the panic with the broken bones and broken lives that go with it is not quite finished. You still won’t join those saying ‘This guy’s an idiot!’. For fear of making him famous?

      I can understand that. No one wants to argue wth an idiot. It’s contagious. But can we afford to be so hygeinic on an issue like this? Or is the better ethics to speak out and risk getting the dunces hat ourselves?

  5. I’d appreciate it if someone would hash this issue out with me, starting from scratch for maximal efficiency. I am familiar with the human concept of “sexual intercourse” wherein humans rub their genitalia on each other in order to generate feelings of bliss. However, I am mystified by the fact that some human cultures place a high importance on the condition that the genitals must not be of the same type. Could someone who actually thinks that this distinction is important please explain to me why you perceive it as such? Thanks very much.

  6. Why is anyone surprised he said something like this? Television is so fractionated that A&E has been getting good ratings by catering to bigots or mockers instead of their early fare. ‘On suspension’ has been used by many shows, including dramas like CSI, when someone did something over the top off camera. They come back with little fanfare. We also don’t know if something he said was against either handshake or written clauses.

    But many states and industries, you can be fired at any time for any reason. Being rude to potential/actual customers is high on the list and kills many businesses. Mr Robertson doesn’t care if his attitudes harm the rest of the network, his wealth doesn’t depend on it so he doesn’t have to be conciliatory. A&E must consider that, even if they did a bad job of trying to do damage control. (I wonder if he might have done things like this before and been warned not to repeat, but the public hadn’t heard of it before. That would make the suspension appropriate.)

    He’s wrong to conflate homosexuality with other things. The network would be wrong to fire him for having an unpopular opinion that is easily inferred. The large scale celebrities should stay out of it and stop fanning the flames on this. They should go do something useful: wrap holiday presents, work at a food bank, volunteer at a crisis line, give to St Jude’s hospital… It’s only a flame war, writ large, solving nothing.

  7. I would like to point out that these Christians are only behaving consistently and sincerely based on their worldview. Since they believe that sexual acts falling outside monogamy or heteronormativity are wrong and disrespectful to a supreme being, of course they do not want the laws of the country they live into reflect acceptance of these behaviors. Therefore, their opposition to laws supporting homosexual rights can’t be considered a problem if you don’t consider their religious beliefs to be a problem.

    I consider their religious beliefs to be a problem. I intensely dislike when people say they have a right to their opinion and assume that means that their opinion must be just as accurate as anyone else’s. If you consider an opinion on ethics to be on par with an opinion on fashion or flavor, something which is basically a dice roll on what you consider pleasant, then that’s moral relativism and spirals into disaster. Opinions on ethics are what I consider to be perspectives sustainable principles of social behavior. If two people have different perspectives, it’s important that they reconcile these perspectives. This is a “six blind men and an elephant” thing. If they don’t talk to each other, how can they possibly understand the whole elephant? They’ll just try to treat the elephant as a spear or a fan or what have you, and things will go horribly wrong based on that misperception. Bottom line is, if you consider your perspective to be equally valid compared to everyone else’s, that implies directly that all opinions are arbitrary and therefore meaningless. On the other hand, if you believe your perception is based on an accurate interpretation of your experience, you have an obligation as a citizen to share it and to try and understand others’ perspectives such that everyone can be better informed.

    I do wonder why civil unions can’t be a completely platonic concept, though, which can also be applied to people who happen to be romantically involved. Don’t I have the right to decide who can visit my hospital bed without having to be related to them or have sex with them?

    Furthermore, I’d appreciate it if someone would hash this issue out with me, starting from scratch for maximal efficiency.

    I am familiar with the human concept of “sexual intercourse” wherein humans rub their genitalia on each other in order to generate feelings of bliss. However, I am mystified by the fact that some human cultures place a high importance on the condition that the genitals must not be of the same type. Could someone who actually thinks that this distinction is important please explain to me why you perceive it as such? Also, yes I know when I put it this way it sounds silly; that’s because I’m describing the situation as I perceive it, and I genuinely perceive it as a silly issue. However, some people believe it, it is important that I understand why, so I’m not taking it for granted that I am right and it is silly. We’re not going to approach an understanding if I go around writing off people’s judgment. To whomever explains this to me, you have my gratitude.

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