“Duck Dynasty”: A Controversy for a Nation of Children

“I don’t agree with a word you’re saying. But I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it.”

As recently as a couple of decades ago, this statement, and all that it implies, were a part of American culture.

Does anyone hear this anymore?

The phrase as well as the underlying beliefs are now extinct in America. It’s this fact that allows the ridiculous controversy over the A&E television series, “Duck Dynasty” to dominate the news in the midst of continuing unemployment, economic stagnation and budgetary apocalypse.

In case you missed it, here are the facts:

On December 18, 2013, A&E announced that it was suspending Phil Robertson from the hugely popular show “Duck Dynasty” indefinitely over remarks he made during an interview with Drew Magary of GQ magazine. During the interview to be published in the magazine’s January 2014 issue, Magary asked Robertson: “What, in your mind, is sinful?” Robertson answered, “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.”—continuing rhetorically, Robertson questioned the appeal of same-sex relationships, particularly amongst men; saying: “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

A&E released a statement that read: “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

I wish A&E were as blunt and direct as their star. I wish they’d simply say the truth, “A lot of us here find his remarks offensive and even disgusting. But the show is highly rated, and we’re first and foremost a business committed to pleasing our customers. We’ll leave it to viewers to decide if they wish to keep watching the show, or not. Remember that the actor speaks for himself, not for his character.”

This is how adults speak to other adults. But, it seems, we’re no longer a nation of adults.

As reason and freedom decline in any society, the words of the ignorant and the immature take on more significance. If we were a more rational and grown-up people than most of us are, we’d be laughing rather than expressing outrage.

The actual response by A&E is not really “political correctness.” It’s simply trying to have it both ways. Of course they’re first and foremost a business trying to make money, and for whatever reasons (a mystery to me) “Duck Dynasty” is popular and highly rated. Of course they hope and intend to keep the show on the air, if at all possible. This is how people (including gay and lesbian individuals who work for A&E, no doubt) make a living.

At the same time, some members of their staff are perhaps sincerely offended by their star’s remarks, and they really wish he had not shot his mouth off in this way. Yet, they’re probably happy because of the added publicity all this brings to the show.

They solve the contradiction by trying to have it both ways. “We’re suspending him, but not firing him. We’re frankly hoping this will all blow over in a week or a month. And that we can keep the show going. But we’re not going to acknowledge any of this.”

The proper response by gay and lesbian groups would be to use the actor’s ignorant remarks to educate the public about the errors they see in his statements.  Beyond that, any lover of equal individual rights should say [and mean], “I detest his remarks, but I will fight to the death for his right to say them.”

That’s no longer the world in which we live. The world in which we now live is, “I have a right not to be offended.” It’s truly a world of children, mentally and psychologically, on both the cultural “left” and “right.” Sarah Palin or GLAAD…they’re all children, in this respect.

Think about it. If gays and lesbians have a moral, and even political, “right” not to be offended, then how long before those on the other side assert the same right? (They’re already starting to do so.) How long before people with this actor’s attitudes about homosexuality start to assert, “Hey, I have a right not to live in a world where other’s sexual practices and preferences disgust me”?

Literally or at least metaphorically, we should all be willing to “fight to the death” for the right of anyone to think, feel or portray any point of view he or she wishes to portray (on his or her own property/nickel, of course). On this we can and should all agree, no matter how we feel about each other’s sexual or reproductive practices.

The complete absence of this attitude in our culture disturbs me much more than any moronic idiocy uttered by some actor enjoying his brief few minutes in the spotlight.

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