ZZ Top has said something offensive, which has led to Darkwing Duck being canceled. Pope Francis weighs in at 11!
It’s time to kick off the Fifth Age of Sam’s Blogging Habit by grabbing the tail end of the latest blog bandwagon: Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, the aftermath, and the comments upon comments that appeared on the Facebook pages of people I know.
For those who have had better things to do in the last year than follow the career of a guy who looks like the picture above, allow me to fill you in with a brief timeline from my perspective:
- About a year ago: My Facebook friends began talking about “Duck Dynasty”. I assumed it was a reality show, meaning I wouldn’t be interested anyway. When I found out it was somehow related to duck hunting, I knew I wouldn’t be interested.
- Over the next few months: I still wasn’t interested. Some of my more religious acquaintances began talking about what a “great man of God” someone was. I assume it was either the man in the picture (Phil Robertson) or one of his clones. Something about abstinence before marriage was also mentioned, but looking at the pictures of these dudes, are you really surprised?
- About a month ago: My curiosity got the better of me, and I read a synopsis on Wikipedia. I was surprised to discover that A) They’re not actually duck hunters, they’re a rich family that owns a duck call company, and B) Scratch that first one, they are also duck hunters.
- Two weeks ago: an acquaintance of mine heard the phrase “fuck a duck” for the first time, and thought it was hilarious, and wouldn’t stop saying it. That’s not really related to the story at hand, it’s just funny.
- Yesterday or two days ago: An interview with Phil Robertson was published in GQ. I read the article, which makes me about 4 pages more informed than 90% of the people posting opinions about this. “About what?!” you ask. So glad you asked. Robertson said, in his interview that:
- Homosexuality leads to and bestiality[*]. [Nope]
- Black people were happier under Jim Crow, because they weren’t so “entitled” [Somehow this comment got lost in all the hullabaloo over that first point]
- He voted for Romney, because Romney’s from Salt Lake City [Nope] and Obama’s from Chicago [Illinois Senator, so we'll give him that, at least he didn't say Kenya], and Salt Lake City is safer at 3am because it is.
- Yesterday, all day: People on Facebook lost their shit, one way or another. Some justified, some not. Late in the afternoon, A&E, the network which broadcasts Duck Dynasty (I learned something!!) announced that they were suspending Phil Robertson from the program. [Cue the false persecution claims in 3... 2... ]
- Today, all day: People continue to lose their shit all over Facebook.
I’ll share a couple of comments I read on the Facebook feeds of people who will more-than-likely unfriend me if they read this, even though I’m not sharing their names.
Completely agree with Phil’s comments and completely agree with you that A&E has right to “suspend” him (whatever the heck that actually means). I just feel that most of my friends championing A&E today were the same ones who complained vehemently in the past about conservative boycotts of Disney or country radio boycotts of Dixie Chicks.
Lot of comments here, so for now I’ll just stick with this for now: I hope he hadn’t actually read the comments before claiming to agree with them.
This will get much worse before it gets better for Phil Robertson. He has decided to go up against the god of this age. If you haven’t been to Walmart yet to get it, go purchase your Duck Dynasty gear today, because it might not be on the shelves much longer. Note the final paragraph in the article…quoting from 1 Cor. 6 is like sounding one’s own cultural death knell.
I thought the “god of this age” was money? Phil Robertson has gone up against money?! Oh, no, wait “go down to your local Walmart and buy some Duck Dynasty swag” is right there. This is probably my favorite comment, because it’s the perfect blend of culture war fear and rushed consumerism.
Have I mentioned how proud I am of the the Robertson Family! Especially Mr. Phil. We live in such a difficult time in our nations history, it’s great to see people like Phil speak the Truth of the Word of God boldly to the media! Keep it up Robertsons! We’re praying for you guys on the frontline!
I like that during times of actual war, when actual soldiers are in actual firefights and actually getting killed (and many of those soldiers are Christians, I might add), a reality show star making an obnoxious statement against multiple minority groups … HE’S the one on the “frontlines”.
A world where everyone else can proclaim their opinions on the highest mountain, but the second a Christian stands up for what the Bible says, even in a loving, non-judgmental way, they are ostracized and hated.
Today I learned the Bible says that homosexuality will morph into bestiality.
And now you’re all, “But freedom of speech!”
Freedom of speech is a limit on government censorship, not on a company suspending an individual for expressing, well, any opinion, but for an individual in the public eye to make boldly ignorant statements like the ones he made? Yes, A&E should suspend him or cancel his program.
So then you’re all “Well, they shouldn’t have asked him the question and then been shocked by the answer!”
Actually, if you read the interview, Robertson made the comment initially, bemoaning how “Sin becomes fine” in modern society. The question (not directly quoted) was what we call a followup question. It’s Journalism 101, people! (I’m kidding, obviously. Interviewing was a 300 level course when I was in school). Robertson volunteered these opinions, and went a step further with the comparisons.
So next you’re going to claim “Oh, but people on the other side do the same!”
Probably. I honestly couldn’t tell you. The examples provided above were the Disney boycott and the Dixie Chicks boycott. The Dixie Chicks boycott is likely comparable, but I remember very little of it, because people were still pretty pissed at the Dixie Chicks for their awful cover of Landslide.
The Disney comparison, though, is likely not valid. A lot of “charges” (in the moral court, of course) were thrown at Disney in the 90′s, including providing domestic partnership benefits to same-sex partners of employees. But the big one that was used on all the literature was “GAY DAY” (omg!) Someone mistakenly believed Gay Day to be a Disney-sponsored event (it wasn’t), and wrote out letters to organizations who passed the misinformation on to members, who could have then verified the information for themselves (they didn’t) and a boycott ensued. It wasn’t a case of “Boycott vs. Claims of Free Speech”, it was “Boycott vs. THE FACTS”.
But ultimately, these “well someone else did it too” comments are a case of classic derailing.
“Well, remember when we were boycotting The Golden Compass movie based on a chain e-mail we received, and someone said that we couldn’t because of free speech? This is the same!” [hypothetical example, identical principle]
If that’s true? Then yes, it is the same, in principle. It’s also irrelevant. Whatever pet boycott you still remember from the past is not this situation, and there’s no need to bring it up now. The issue right now is Phil Robertson’s comments, and A&E’s reactions.
If you want to discuss your pet boycott, discuss it in its own arena.
If you want to claim that liberals don’t care about freedom of speech unless it’s for their own causes, need I remind you that the ACLU defended Westboro Baptist Church in an actual First Amendment case?
“What’s the big deal with Phil’s comments anyway?”
Here’s where I tone the snark down a bit, and turn on my serious face.
Phil Robertson’s comments were more than just a statement of what he believes. They were more, even, than an apologetic statement of his belief, or even the echoing of a sentiment shared by many of his fans (which it certainly was, troubling as that may be). His statements were offensive because sexuality is more than just who you have sex with. Sexuality is more, even, than who you’re attracted to. Sexuality is an identity. It is part of who you are, not a thing you turn on from time to time. Even as a cis-het person, I understand my sexuality is a major defining part of who I am. For LGBTQI* individuals, it is not only an identity, but a part of their identity that sets them apart from many others. It is a part of their identity that some have taken years to accept, and some still may not have fully dealt with. Many have been ostracized from family and friends, they cannot obtain legal marriage licenses in many states, and in some countries, they can be put to death. Not for who they’re attracted to, but for who they are. Their identity.
So when a reality television star who has never had to deal with identity issues, second-class citizenship, etc. compares their identity to nonconsensual sexual acts with children or non-humans, it is harmful and destructive. A&E made the right call in suspending him from the program, and the Robertson family’s Notpology does not begin to make up for it.
I read somewhere recently that arguments of equality and rights do not occur in a vacuum, and this is true. [if someone wants to find me that source, I'd love you for three seconds!]
It’s tempting to say “Both sides need to respect each other” but that assumes both sides are on an even playing field. In reality, one side is trapped in a well, and the other side refuses to let them climb out, so the party trapped in the well is justifiably angry. That is not a remotely comparable form of “intolerance” as the person standing at the edge saying “shut up and stay there!”
It’s time for those of us in the privileged classes to examine that our “freedom”, while legally protected, does not justify speaking cruelly of groups that are already marginalized.
Phil Robertson is a symptom of the problem. But the crowds of people jumping to his defense are the true cause.
In the original version of this post, I mistakenly listed pedophilia here along with bestiality. This was incorrect, and I have removed the reference.