We have liberty to thank for the fact that as Americans all of us still enjoy the basic right to say and believe as we like, and that includes the absolute inalienable individual right to think, talk and act like a raging bigot.
Believe me, there are plenty of bigots out there, especially religious bigots, in the good old U.S.A. who take full advantage of that right.
Consider the fascinating case of Phil Robertson, a 67 year old Charles Manson lookalike; patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan, and star of the A&E TV network “reality” show series, Duck Dynasty, about the life and times of a Louisiana redneck family that made it big in the duck call manufacturing business.
Typical airhead Americans are eating it up. Over the last 5 years Duck Dynasty been the hottest cable network show on television.
Robertson is a proud self described Louisiana redneck, having grown up where Cajun and Ozark redneck culture intersect; born to a manic-depressive mother and a roughneck father. He also unabashedly calls himself a born again Christian Bible-thumper, and he thumps it regularly on the show, especially at the end of every episode.
There are plenty more things he would like to say on the show, he admits; “controversial things” that don’t make it past the A&E producers cut.
While growing Up in Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Louisiana, Phil claims that: “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once… They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Yeah, right. Blacks weren’t mistreated in the old Jim Crow south as far as he’s concerned. He never saw it happen. Do you believe that? Would anyone in his right mind believe that?
This guy was a biker gang type back in the early '70's and that's apparently why he and the rest of the men in his family still look like biker gang types. He used to spend his days "getting drunk, chasing tail, swallowing diet pills and black mollies." Once he drunkenly kicked his wife and three sons out of their house saying: "I'm sick of you." And he once had to flee the state of Arkansas after badly beating up a bar owner and his wife.
But later he was “born again” and turned his life over to Jesus Christ. He's gone from vicious biker gang bigot type to religious bigot Bible thumper type.
Phil is one of those who think that America was founded as a Christian nation. He laments the fact that the Ten Commandments can't be displayed outside every courthouse. He fancies the popularity of Duck Dynasty as a small corrective to all that’s been lost in America.
“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he explains.
That’s why I confess that I have never watched a single episode of Duck Dynasty. Plenty of snippets and teasers from the show, however, convinced me that it’s basically just another contrived and scripted The Beverly Hillbillies type sit com, (another classic American TV hit show from the 1960’s), about the lives of a backwoods hillbilly family hitting the big-time after striking oil on their land.
I don’t see anything intellectually stimulating, amusing or socially redeeming about watching a bunch of ignoramuses, (albeit financially successful ones), looking like a group of homeless vagrants, complete with wildly unkempt hair and beards, going about their mundane lives. I’d much rather watch a reality show about the lives of insects or hippo’s; but to each his own.
Recently the controversy has been all over the news about A&E network having suspended Phil Robertson from the show after he expressed a torrent of religiously bigoted opinions against gays and other “sinners” in a candid GQ magazine interview.
He equated, for example, homosexuality to “bestiality, adulterers, idolaters, male prostitutes, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God,” he opined. “Don’t deceive yourself,” preached Phil, “It’s not right.”
To his credit, he added: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em; give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later; you see what I’m saying?”
Yeah, I see what he’s saying; homosexuals, drunks and terrorists; it’s all the same to Phil. He’s not judging them. He’s an equal opportunity bigot.
Right; he’s not judging gays; no way.
Now, I’m not trying to imply that Phil Robertson is a bad person. He’s probably a very good person, I don’t know. Hell, Archie Bunker was actually a good guy at heart in spite of all the bigot baggage he carried. From what little I know about him, Phil probably has lots of admirable qualities too.
Evangelical Christians like Sarah Palin and other committed Duck Dynasty fans -- (why is it no surprise to me that Sarah Palin would be a Duck Dynasty fan?) -- are outraged at what they deem as A&E’s “intolerance.” Naturally, they think that religious bigots like Phil Robertson should be tolerated no matter what they say publicly and that any objection to their outrageous religious bigotry is “intolerance.”
“The reality is that the Robertson family are Bible-believing Christians who don’t cherry pick what the Bible teaches,” says Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “It is time for all Americans to take a stand against the cultural elites who want to destroy the livelihood of people and remove God and His truth from every aspect of public life.”
No, they don’t cherry pick, do they Tony? I suppose then that they must also think it’s perfectly proper to stone gays, witches, adulterers, and all those other undesirable sinners to death. After all, that’s what their Bible teaches too, right? Nah, they’re cherry pickin’ the biblical scriptures alright. Christian religious bigots do that all the time. Phil doesn’t want to stone anyone.
Palin and Perkins are, along with Phil Robertson, among that large majority of Christian Bible thumping evangelicals in America who want to reestablish daily Christian prayer and the teaching of biblical creationism in the public schools; display the Ten Commandments in every court house and government building; and establish a government promoted Christian theocracy throughout the United States.
That’s why folks like me criticize them for their bigotry. That’s why I call them out.
The Liberty Institute, a legal firm specializing in religious liberty cases, condemned A&E’s actions and urged them to reconsider. “In the spirit of American tolerance of religious diversity, A&E should reinstate Mr. Robertson and apologize for its religious bigotry,” they demand.
Right; Robertson is not a religious bigot -- A&E is the religious bigot.
Ok; in many ways I actually agree with Tony, Sarah and Phil. I say that if Duck Dynasty is what people want; Duck Dynasty is what they should get. And that includes all the religiously bigoted opinions spewed out by Phil Robertson.
I certainly don’t think A&E should suspend or punish him in any fashion for simply being a bigot, although they have a right to do so if they think it’s a good business decision. This is not about the First Amendment.
Unfortunately, this was probably a poor business decision that will cost A&E a lot of money. Duck Dynasty is a hit TV show because of its huge Christian evangelical audience and that audience doesn’t like what’s happened to their Phil.
What A&E should have done, in my opinion, is call Robertson out as the religious bigot he is. By all rights he should be ashamed for what he said. A&E should have strongly disclaimed his ignorant opinions as not those held by A&E; and then let the audience decide whether to keep watching the show or not.
That would have been the responsible thing to do. Suspending Robertson just makes the situation worse. It’s like swatting a hornets’ nest with a stick.
If enough people (like me) were to stop watching, Duck Dynasty would be cancelled and it would be Phil’s own fault. On the other hand, if the majority of American evangelical Christian airheads keep watching it, the Duck Dynasty clan and A&E can continue cashing in on the lucrative fad. Let the audience decide.
In short, I say don’t ever try to punish bigots, statists, other ignoramuses and the like. People have the right to be bigots in America. Just call ‘em out into the sunshine for what they are, and let them feel the searing heat of reason and logic on their backs. Shame on them!
That’s what I do – it’s my job with this blog -- whenever confronted with people like Phil Robertson and his Bible thumping cultural ideas in bigot dynasty.