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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Musing about Duck Dynasty, and Phil Robertson, and free speech

I am not a fan of "reality" shows. I did watch one episode of Duck Dynasty, a few years ago, and was not inclined to watch any more. I walk in Walmarts as my main exercise, and am continually amazed by the quantity, and variety, of Duck Dynasty-themed merchandise available there. Duck Dynasty greeting cards, for one thing. I'm sort of expecting a Duck Dynasty automobile, or dry cereal, or perhaps they are already out, and I have missed them. Becoming an entertainment industry has dangers, for sure.

GQ recently published an article on Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame. The article was in three sections, which are found here, here and here. It uses language that I would not use -- hardly a surprise, I suppose. I won't repeat it here. My impression, for what it's worth, is that the author was not out to get Robertson, but I could be wrong about that. In the last part of the article, Robertson is described as involved in a Bible study with a woman who is a drug addict, and his faith comes across as genuine, if perhaps a little muddled -- as is mine, and probably yours. The article does say that homosexuality (presumably homosexual sexual activity, rather than being attracted to persons of the same sex) is sinful, and lumps it with other sins. That may be why the A&E network removed Mr. Robertson from Duck Dynasty. (Here is all of the A&E statement that I can find. It may be the only statement the network made.)

The first part of the GQ article includes two amazing things. One of them is that Robertson claims to have never read his "autobiography," a ghost-written book. The other is that Robertson makes a statement about human sexual anatomy that most anyone, including Christians, would find questionable, offensive, or both. I'm not repeating it -- I find it offensive. That statement, by itself, would give me pause about Mr. Robertson, if I were an A&E executive, although it doesn't seem to be the basis of their action. As far as I know, Robertson has not indicated that the GQ reporter misquoted him, but, then, he probably hasn't read the article, or would say that he hasn't.

Did Robertson have the right to say what he said? Certainly. Does A&E have the right to take Phil Robertson off the show? Of course. However, free speech, or unregulated business decisions, do not guarantee that the person making the speech, or the company, are immune from the consequences of what they say, or do. (It's possible that this whole thing is a gimmick to boost ratings, or to sell more merchandise.)

Christians have gone to jail, even been executed, for what they have said. Saying that the Bible says that homosexual activity is sinful should be allowed -- it says that. The Bible mentions homosexuality several times, and all of them are negative. We seem to be near a time, in the United States, when saying that the Bible says that homosexual activity is sinful, in response to a question about the subject, will be called hate speech, and made a crime, however wrong-headed such a law may be. If so, Christians should be willing to go to jail for answering questions about what they believe.

I wish homosexuality wasn't such an issue in our time. Christ didn't say anything about it. The Ten Commandments indicate that adultery is a more important sin than homosexuality. But we live in 2013, and it has become an important issue. God help Christians to be loving and kind toward homosexuals, and those who disagree with them about the issue. That's what the world needs. Thanks for reading.


atlibertytosay said...

We have to remember something … Only the government can violate your free speech rights.

A company (in this case A&E) can do whatever they like. They don't have the ability to violate a constitutional - they are not the enforcers or upholders of the constitution.

I agree with what you said mostly here. I didn't really chime in on this issue until I saw that Cracker Barrel's lost business dramatically affacted waiters and waitresses.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, atlibertytosay.

Many people, including Robertson, I suppose, would disagree with you on the matter of who can violate your free speech rights. Employees are often constrained, if that's violation.