"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, December 20, 2013

Duck Dynasty And Free Speech

No one who tunes in to Duck Dynasty expects Masterpiece Theatre.  No one expects or hopes that Phil Robertson will read Hamlet’s soliloquys.  They want raw, backwater bayou, huntin’ and spittin’.  In the latest edition of GQ Robertson expressed what many considered offensive remarks about gay sex and LGBT; but most viewers would be surprised and disappointed if he turns out to be a ‘progressive’ concerned about rights and inclusivity. Whether they want to goof on Southern stereotypes – retarded throwbacks who think shooting ducks is high art – or identify with real men who look like their America, all viewers have bought the image. 

"It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man's anus, that's just me," the reality star said.

"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."

Now, what is wrong with this?  Most men would agree with Robertson.  If 10 percent of the US male adult population is gay, that leaves 90 percent who are like him.  They would rather a wet pussy than a tight asshole. 

Here it gets more complicated, as Robertson wades deeper into the swamp:

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," he explained when asked by GQ's Drew Magary what exactly he considered sinful, "bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

This hits at the core of the issue, and what gets ‘progressives’ dander up.  It’s OK to acknowledge that most men prefer sex with women; but it is definitely not all right to suggest that there is more to the question of sex than simple preference.  There is no such thing as a Biblical injunction against gay sex, they say, and by referring to bestiality, sodomy, and fornication, Robertson has crossed a line. Get this ignorant, sexist, Bible-thumping cracker off the air!

There are a number of issues here.  First are his, our, and A&E’s first amendment rights. Robertson has every right to express his opinion as long as it doesn’t descend into hate speech (a waffly category which invites abuse and has no place in American law).  Second, there is nothing wrong with holding ultra-conservative, fundamentalist views about sexuality.  Third, Duck Dynasty is not only a TV program, it is a branded product – a reality show about Louisiana duck hunters; and the backwater, fundamentalist persona of the characters is part of the brand. 

Fourth – and perhaps most importantly – the Robertsons are not dumbass swamp rats.  They are millionaire businessmen, college educated, and smart.

Ever since childhood, Willie Robertson and his brothers have been interested in the family business started by their father, Phil Robertson (who went to LSU and was drafted by the NFL). Willie used his business degree from Harding University to take Duck Commander from a family business to a multi-million dollar empire.. In 2006, Robertson started another pursuit, the company Buck Commander. This company has also created the Buckmen series of DVDs and the television show Buck Commander Protected by Under Armour on the Outdoor Channel.

As savvy entrepreneurs, they know how to promote a brand. Hollywood spins fantasy, and reality shows are nothing more than a clever take on image, imagination, and stereotype.  While there is no doubt that the Robertsons have a deep, fundamental Christian faith and an evangelical spirit, they know precisely how to portray themselves in the media. They can be honest and at the same time be PR geniuses.  Phil Robertson’s remarks in GQ have already set off a predictable firestorm on both the Left and the Right – what was certainly intended by him and his agents.

The real issue is ‘progressive’ intolerance – an absolute refusal to accept any other than the Liberal Canon on sex and sexuality.  Anyone who sees the Bible as anything other than a pleasant allegory needs to have his head examined.  Anyone who expresses misgivings about gay marriage is retrograde and retarded. Russia and India which have been very vocal about their concerns and have passed restrictive laws concerning gender are universally condemned by the ‘progressive’ Left. Whole countries are tarred with the same intolerant brush.

In a recent article in the New York Times Jennifer Finney Boylan, a transgendered woman, recounts how she stopped dressing up as Santa Claus and bell-ringing for the Salvation Army after she found out about their conservatively religious views about LGBTs. 

The Army, like the Boy Scouts before them, has come under intense scrutiny concerning their views on gender and sexuality; and may be forced to change its ways.  Congress has a law under consideration which would prohibit public and private institutions from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation:

The proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA; H.R. 1755/S. 815) would prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by public and private employers in hiring, discharge, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment (Congressional Research Service, July 2013)

Whether or not the law is passed, private institutions still have the right to express and stand by their principles; and whether or not the Salvation Army may ultimately be forced to accept LGBT Santas is beside the point.  They can and should be able to vigorously espouse and defend their religious, moral, and ethical beliefs.  In other words, Ms. Boylan was well within her rights to walk away from the red bucket; but should lay off her criticisms of the Salvation Army’s beliefs.

PR, production promotion, and Hollywood aside, the Robertsons have every right to express their views on sex, sexuality, and sexual orientation. A&E is under pressure to cancel Duck Dynasty, and Phil Robertson counters by saying, ‘You can’t fire me, I quit’. Both are right, but Robertson is more right, for he is standing on constitutional principle, and A&E only on perceived damage to their corporate image.

If A&E caves in to the ‘progressive’ Left, it is submitting to the worst kind of intimidation. The reason why Duck Dynasty is making millions is because tens of millions of people love it.  They not only do not care about Phil Robertson’s views on LGBTs, they expect him to hold them. If A&E has a constitutional right to keep Robertson on the air; and if the audience response is overwhelmingly in favor of him doing so, then if they pull the show, it is for all the wrong, dangerous reasons.

NOTE: For more on the subject intolerance and single-issue morality, see http://www.uncleguidosfacts.com/2013/12/does-one-wrong-make-person-all-wrong.html

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