Because I don’t have a television, my TV watching is rather select and specific, which means I’m out of the loop for a lot of pop culture, including something called Duck Dynasty. To be honest, when I first heard the title, I assumed it was an Animal Planet show about ducks (sort of like Meerkat Manor). So when I heard that someone from Duck Dynasty said something homophobic, I was thoroughly confused – “a duck said something homophobic?”
Obviously, I’m up to speed on the Duck Dynasty phenomenon – it’s a reality show about a family that made it big with Duck Commander – a company that produces duck-hunting paraphernalia. One of the cast members, Phil Robertson (the founder of Duck Commander), was interviewed in GQ and during the talk he produced some goofy anti-gay crap:
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
He then goes on to compare homosexuals to drunks and terrorists.
So, there was some predictable backlash to Robertson’s comments – and A&E suspended him, issuing a stern statement pledging its support to the LGBT community. GLAAD was quick to condemn Robertson’s remarks issuing a statement:
“Phil [Robertson] and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe…He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans – and Americans – who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”
So, I know that GLAAD’s job is to be a media watchdog – and that’s great, but I do think that going after Phil Robertson is a case of wasted energy. And A&E isn’t helping by suspending him – to his fan base, he’ll just emerge as a free speech martyr, persecuted for his beliefs. And it won’t do any good to remind those folks that his freedom of speech wasn’t violated because the first amendment to the Constitution refers to government infringing on your speech – all of that will be wasted because Robertson will only come out of this as a victim of an overzealous PC-driven society.
Instead, A&E should’ve done something a bit more productive – like donate some of the profits from Duck Dynasty to the Trevor Project – thereby exploiting the show’s lucrative success and helping out a LGBT organization in the process – or Duck Dynasty could do a crossover with some gay-friendly reality show – I mean, can’t A&E and Bravo do something joint effort thingy to teach that asshat Phil Robertson a lesson? Or how about A&E discounting its ad time during the broadcast of Duck Dynasty to LGBT-friendly companies – and then each company can sign off with a tag line that says something like, “Thanks to Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, the Trevor Project is $1 million richer.”
Going after Robertson personally will only create a narrative of a large hulking Goliath-like corporation picking on the little guy. And gays need to understand that folks in mainstream America are still okay with homophobia. All these strides that we’ve made legally and in the polls are great, but they should not lull us into a false sense of security and confidence – there’s still lots to be done in hopes of being fully folded into mainstream society.
Just think about the flap over Paula Deen’s firing from the Food Network, and how her supporters went online and showed up at her appearances – cries of “political correctness overload” and “PC bullying” flew everywhere – if there are still people willing to look the other way when a TV chef extolls the virtues of a plantation-themed wedding, what are the chances that a good chunk of those people will draw the line at a hackneyed, half-assed references to Bible scripture to justify personal bigotry?
A&E banged the pooch in this case because in its zeal to stunt the controversy, it actually handed Robertson and his dum dum allies ammo to claim imagined victimhood.