Why ‘Suspending’ Phil Robertson From Duck Dynasty Was A Brilliant, Cynical PR Move
If you’ve logged onto Facebook at some point in the past 12 hours, you’ve probably seen a family member or high school classmate going apeshit that Obama cancelled freedom of speech and personally fired Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty for his anti-gay comments to GQ. Except what really happened is that A&E “suspended” Phil from the show – for a while – which will still be filmed by the rest of the family who apparently don’t have a problem going along with any of this which should’ve been the first red flag to all the Duck Dynasty fans currently being played like a harp from hell. And the next one should’ve been the immediate media firestorm from making Phil a martyr which naturally happened. His popularity among his fanbase couldn’t be higher if she shot a black kid which is one of the benefits of having a target demographic of oblivious zealots who have no fucking clue how freedom of speech works or when their puppet strings are being brilliantly pulled. Case in point:
Free speech is endangered species; those "intolerants" hatin' & taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) December 19, 2013
On that note, let me address some of the pure moron gems coughed up since this whole debacle started:
“WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH?!”
I can’t count how many times I’ve explained this, but I’m going to keep doing it. Was Phil Robertson put in jail or fined by the government? Then his freedom of speech is fully intact. That said, should A&E actually be suspending him for his comments that in no way shape, or form should’ve surprised them, it’s in his contract that they can. A&E is Phil’s private employer, and at some point during negotiations for the show, his lawyers were given a contract that included a clause saying A&E can terminate him at any point if he does anything that negatively affects the network or Duck Dynasty. That is standard, perfectly constitutional procedure, and something Phil agreed to in exchange for $200,000 an episode. And if he suddenly doesn’t agree with those conditions, then he’s a sinner who gave false testimony.
On the other side of that coin, freedom of speech does not mean freedom of criticism. Phil Robertson fully exercised his constitutional right by equating homosexuals with terrorists, and then everyone else fully exercised theirs by going, “Holy shit, that’s fucking ridiculous.” So many depressing times I see conservatives and/or Christians honestly believing that freedom of speech is a magical shield that shuts down everyone else’s constitutional right to disagreement. Learn how the most basic of amendments works before opening your face. That’s not asking a lot.
“Since when did it become okay to persecute Christians?”
Owning someone like property is persecution.
Hanging someone for the color of their skin is persecution.
Using the full weight of the law to beat and attack someone with a firehose is persecution.
Firing, or not hiring, someone for the color of their skin, gender or sexual orientation is persecution.
Telling someone who they cannot speak to, share a bathroom with, date, or marry is persecution.
Having someone disagree with you on the Internet is fucking words on a screen. Christians are still the majority religion in America and still influencing every single level of state, local and federal government. No one’s trying to make laws that throw you in jail for what you do in your bedroom, or denying your partner health benefits or the simple right to visit you in the hospital. Your shit is golden.
“He just gave an honest answer to a question!”
If you actually read the article, at no point did Drew Magary go, “Hey, Phil, what do you think about homosexuals?” Phil Robertson organically broached the subject himself, as he’s clearly done hundreds of times before, in the context of, “Let me tell you what’s wrong with America,” which turned out to be gays having sex with a man’s anus instead of a vagina. It didn’t take any poking or prodding or “gotcha” questions. It was his go-to example for sin destroying America. And if you know anyone like Phil, or who watches this show, this shouldn’t be all that shocking of a turn of events because I guarantee we’ve all been in a situation where a Christian has said, “I’ll tell you where it’s going wrong. Too many gays on TV.”
All that stuff said, let me say for the record that I’m not ruling out the possibility of the entire family bailing on the show, or A&E legitimately suspending Phil because he did make some other choice comments like this one:
So here’s where things get a bit uncomfortable. Phil calls himself a Bible-thumper, and holy shit, he thumps that Bible hard enough to ring the bell at a county-fair test of strength. If you watch Duck Dynasty, you can hear plenty of it in the nondenominational supper-table prayer the family recites at the end of every episode, and in the show’s no-cussing, no-blaspheming tone. But there are more things Phil would like to say—“controversial” things, as he puts it to me—that don’t make the cut. (This March, for instance, he told the Christian-oriented Sports Spectrum magazine that he didn’t approve of A&E editing out “in Jesus” from a family prayer scene, even though A&E says that the phrase has been uttered in at least seventeen episodes.)
And, oh I dunno, this one on pre-civil-rights Louisiana:
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Then again, absolutely none of this should surprise A&E who’s filmed four seasons and has waded countless hours upon hours of footage from a man who doesn’t shut up about how this country is going to hell in a handbasket. More importantly, they know the audience will ladel that shit straight into their mouths and go on a buying frenzy at Walmart in “solidarity with Phil.” Because it’s not like A&E gets a cut of the merchandise profit. That’s liberal commie math. Your dollars go straight into Phil’s pockets, so he can preach the Good Word and show ‘Merica some real country livin’. It works exactly like that.