In this country, we have the right to say what we want; we have the right to be wrong and we have the right to be stupid. As I watch the Duck Dynasty media circus unfold, and watch more and more people weigh in, I am struck by how many people seem to be getting this wrong. I don’t think I’m alone.
Let’s start with the idea that this has anything to do with the 1st Amendment / Freedom of Speech. It does not. Phil has every right to say what he said. A&E has every right to do what they did. GLAAD has every right to be outraged and to call for A&E to “Do something”. Millions of people have the right to voice their opinion on the matter. When the government starts telling A&E what to do or telling Phil what he can say, that’s different. But none of this has anything to do with the rights to free speech.
Instead of looking at how this played out and who said what, I want to look at each player in this drama and look at how they may have been wrong or stupid. I think mistakes were made (And continue to be made) on all sides.
Phil Robertson: What were you thinking? A GQ interview? Magazines like that are always trying to play “Got you”. Especially for someone who is conservative or backwoods or religious and Phil… You are all three! This little Woodward wannabe will be the toast of all the Obamacare pajama parties for months to come and you fell right into the trap.
A&E: Quick quiz hotshots… One of the stars of your NUMBER 1 rated, CASH COW series says something that some people find offensive, do you 1. Issue a press release saying that “While we disagree (You may even add the word “Strongly”) with the words of Phil Robertson, we support the fact that people in this country can disagree with each other on certain topics. We at A&E have supported and will continue to support the LGBT lifestyle.” 2. Issue a press release saying “That after careful consideration, we will be dropping Duck Dynasty from our line-up as we can see no way forward due to creative differences.” I could respect either decision; the first because it’s good business and the second because they were standing up for their principles. They choose door number three… “We have decided to do something because the people at GLAAD were getting the underwear in a bunch, but we really like the money, so we are going to suspend Phil indefinitely (Or until this blows over) and try to film around him. We really hope the rest of the family cooperates as we need the money.” SMH
GLAAD: I must admit that their position has hurt themselves more than it has hurt any other player. Calling for A&E to do something is typical knee-jerk advocacy stuff that we have come to expect from any so called “Rights” group. What I find disturbing about their position as well the position of thousands more people on FB and sites like Huffington Post and Being Liberal is the lengths they are going to demolish this man. They seem to be doing it gleefully. It is not enough to say they disagree or to use this as a teachable moment. They label what he said “Hate Speech”. Unfortunately, that is the way the PC crowd gets around having to debate anything. Once what you say is labeled “Hate Speech”, then you are a “Hater” and since you are now a hater, they don’t have to actually engage you in conversation. I read what Phil said. I don’t agree with it. But what made it “Hate Speech”? There were no disparaging remarks, no slurs. He answered a question about his faith. He didn't demand you agree with him and he hasn't tried to shout anyone down.
What I find sad is that a group that preaches tolerance would have none for another opinion. Why is tolerance only a one-way street? Is your position so untenable that any differing opinion must be shattered and the person saying it must be destroyed at all costs? You are fighting for hearts and minds here and over the last week, you have turned off people that might otherwise been more accepting of your position. To most of middle America, watching you try to destroy a man because you disagree with him turns people off and makes you look small.
Of course, I am fully aware that I may be one of those getting thing wrong…