Saturday, December 21, 2013

On Phil Robertson, hate speech and Christian persecution

I'll be honest.  I've only ever watched Duck Dynasty once.  I thought the episode I saw was fairly amusing. I have some friends and family who adore it.  I'm not here to offer my criticism of the show itself, but I do have a few things to say about Dynasty patriarch, Phil Robertson, and his recent GQ interview where he likened homosexuality to bestiality and also implied that black people were happier under Jim Crow.

More accurately, I'm going to reiterate a few points that come up every time someone gets shit for saying something bigoted in the media and everyone and their grandma starts yelling about "FREEZE PEACH!" 

Let's make one thing clear.  No ones constitutional rights are being trampled here.  The government has not stepped in prevent Phil Robertson from expressing his views, through threat of punishment or sanction.  Free speech does not mean that he is free from consequence or criticism.

The ability to criticize is also a part of free speech.  In fact, there was a whole lot of free speech going on here:  

- Phil was fully within his rights to express his views to GQ, knowing that GQ would be publishing his words.
- People who disagreed and found his words hurtful and/or oppressive were within their rights to contact A&E and tell them that they would no longer support A&E should A&E continue to either implicitly or explicity support Phil Robertson
- A&E is within their rights to verbally distance themselves from Robertson (even if hypocritically so, since they've apparently been aware of his views for years, and only now seem to have a problem when it could potentially bite them in the ass) and they are within their rights to refuse to give him a platform
- Supporters of Robertson are also within their rights to tell A&E that they will no support A&E if they DON'T reinstate Robertson.  They are also free to, rather disingenuously, claim that they don't agree with his views but care more about their comfort zone and viewing habits than the people that Phil has figuratively shat on, so they will hereby be boycotting A&E until Phil is reinstated so they can return happily to their comfort zone of apathy.
- edited to add: people were also within their rights to continue to watch or not watch the show without comment, because freedom of speech also includes the freedom to withhold an opinion.

See? Free speech abounds.

As far as the claim is being persecuted for his Christian beliefs.. Well, no.  He's being called out on his shitty beliefs.  It is my understanding that the family on Duck Dynasty make no bones about being faithful Christians, right down to ending every meal with a prayer.   As far as I know, I don't recall too many people complaining about their Christian beliefs before this interview came out.  I've not read about people up in arms about the Robertson's dinner prayers or references to God and The Bible.  People got complainy when those beliefs started to shit on marginalized people.


  1. This is a thoughtful commentary -- especially the last paragraph

  2. I really don't care what he believes but because he has opted to make himself a person of the public I believe he has a responsibility to be a good role model. I'm sure there are a ton of kids watching this show and will hear about these comments and if their hero is saying it than so shall they. Monkey see....monkey do!

  3. can me and the girls come live next to y'all in Canada? You'll have to tell your country to do something about the cold weather.

    Listen, right now, in my country, dumb sells, especially to right wing fools.

    I'm more offended that duck dynasty is a 400 million dollar empire than what that bigot said.

    Good piece


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