As soon as I saw the first post about what’s-his-face from Duck Dynasty’s interview in GQ, I knew there would post after post about it on Facebook and Twitter. In his interview, Phil Robertson made it rather clear what his stance on homosexuality is. In addition to the predictable belief that homosexuality is a sin, Robertson also seems to think that Blacks were perfectly happy back when he was a kid and those lovely Jim Crow laws were still in effect. What’s really causing the stir on social media, however, is the fact that A&E has pulled the popular reality show, Duck Dynasty, that follows the life of Robertson and his family. The most common outcry against A&E’s decision is that they are infringing upon Robertson’s right of free speech. Let me start by saying this: Phil Robertson had every right to say what he did, but A&E also has every right to not have him and his beliefs associated with their network.
Maybe some of you will be surprised, but I wasn’t exactly angry when I read the comments that sparked this controversy. I mean, is a single person really surprised? The thoughts running through my mind as I read over the interview really boiled down to “wow, this is unsurprisingly archaic and ignorant.” There was nothing new to his argument about homosexuality, just the standard calling it a sin and equating it with bestiality (which is a little weird coming from a man who made his fortune by selling duck calls meant to make ducks think hunters are interested in having sex with them). As for the comments about Black people, he says of his pre-Civil Rights Movement childhood, “Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” I find this hilariously ignorant for so many reasons, but it’s the fact that he’s talking about the era when they were literally singing the blues that gets me. Probably because if I think about the other things, I get sad over how horrible people can still be.
Here’s the thing though, this guy has every right to say those things! But, and this is the important part, society (*coughs* A&E) doesn’t have to sit back and just let him say these things without there being some form of backlash. We’re allowed to look at Phil Robertson and wonder how in the hell people can still think these things. A&E is allowed to stop paying this man because he has quickly made himself a nightmare for the public relations department. No rights have been infringed upon here. Had Phil Robertson been thrown in jail for what he said, then we could have a discussion about his right to free speech being denied. We don’t have that though.
Instead, we have a situation where Phil Robertson is now on a different path than A&E. It’s a rather unfortunate path he’s on, but hey, whatever, there are some people you have to wash your hands of and let them say stupid shit. Seriously, let him keep saying whatever he wants, it’s his right, but that doesn’t mean the world can’t call him out for it.