Phil Robertson, of the Duck Dynasty, and this may be an understatement, is somewhat ignorant about homosexuality. The only real sin, after all, is hurting somebody. Nevertheless we want to know what he thinks, about homosexuality and other things, like what makes black people happy, and how all great evils, like the NAZIs and the Japanese, resulted from not being Christian. And let’s be fair, he may have known some black people who were happy despite being poor. Good for them.
Bottom line is we should want to know what he thinks, not so we can punish him, but so we can teach him something. Whether he chooses to learn or not, others can also share in the lesson. In fact, his statement put the world to listening for a response, and it is the perfect opportunity to craft one.
And should we really blame him for saying what he thinks? If he doesn’t say it he will never be challenged. This is true for us as well. If we don’t express what we really believe, no one will ever argue with us and we will lack the chance to appreciate another’s perspective. We are all ignorant of something.
So, I don’t think A&E should fire him, or suspend him or punish him in any way. These are his opinions. Instead they should release a statement, their opinion, which hopefully would go something like this (and just in case they want it I hereby give them permission to use what I am about to suggest word for word):
“The views that Phil Robertson recently expressed in an interview with GQ magazine, that homosexuality is a sin, that it is illogical and equated with bestiality are not shared by A&E. We consider his statements to be born of ignorance and as a company we stand in support of diversity and of the rights people should have to live their lives as they see fit. This is not a reproach of Christianity, but to the belief that Jesus wants us to judge homosexuality, a belief that we do not share. Nevertheless, we do not consider it our responsibility to censure Mr Robertson from expressing his views, but rather would use this opportunity to foster a debate that might change minds. We consider it our obligation to respond to the statements made by one of our own, to make clear where we stand, and to encourage others to do the same. In the words of Ira Glasser, former director of the American Civil Liberties Union, “the answer to bad speech is not less speech, but more speech.”
It might piss off some of Duck Dynasty’s supporters, but if Robertson has free speech, so do we all. That said, the Constitution only protects him from the government. A&E has no obligation to give anyone a voice, if they don’t think it serves their purpose. They can, if they desire, respect the spirit of free speech, but if the audience doesn’t like what they produce, it doesn’t matter the reason. It’s not their business to lose money. So I’m not saying A&E has any obligation to do anything in particular, just that I think this would be the best route.
I read the article. His views were not any different than those we have heard over and over often from political candidates. Are we supposed to pretend they don’t exist by making people like Phil Robertson shut up? He has little influence to do anything but foster debate, which we can use to turn public opinion. It’s not like he’s the President, or a Senator, or Congressman, or Governor. Them we have to be more concerned about.
Phil Robertson makes duck calls and has a reality show. He’s a character, good and bad. I was not particularly surprised by anything he said. Was anyone?