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Four Decades Along the Rainbow Road

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ducking the Real issue

The fact that so much progress has been occurring with marriage equality and how the majority of people in the U.S. now support it must be bugging the crap out of the remaining homophobes.  They’ve witnessed a parade of states undoing existing bans on same-sex marriage or the states’ approving it on their own that these bigots are so irate their blood pressure is probably setting record highs.
It’s perfect timing for the latest media kerfuffle involving the TV reality show “Duck Dynasty” on cable’s A&E network.  As most folks already know, the patriarch of this clan, Phil Robertson, 67, made some unkind comments about blacks and gays in an interview with GQ magazine.  He said that the blacks in his home state of Louisiana were content and happy during the pre-civil rights era and that gays were sinners and worse.

For blacks under Jim Crow laws, “They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
For gays, well here’s what the biblical scholar replied to the question, “What is sin?”: “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.”

For these quotes and more, Robertson was indefinitely suspended by A&E based on his failure to properly represent the network with his comments.  That raised the ire of the conservative anti-gay crowd who claim his right to free speech was infringed by the liberal media.
Whoa!  Not so fast.  Robertson’s right to free speech was never infringed.    He spoke freely and was never apprehended and incarcerated as would be the case had he not been protected by the First Amendment.  Such actions are commonplace in other countries around the globe, not here.

But with free speech there are responsibilities and consequences.  You can’t falsely shout “fire” in a movie theater, for instance.  Or, if you should curse out your boss, good luck with using the freedom of speech defense if fired.
The backlash from this controversy was not about free speech or espousing biblical beliefs and the teachings of Christ.  His references to Scripture are inaccurate, and Jesus never condemned homosexuality—at all.

Robertson backers, angered by the suspension, rallied on his behalf.  They ranged from GOP politicians to homophobic organizations to those supporters establishing a Twitter account and a Facebook page, “Stand with Phil Robertson” that has over one and a half million “Likes” and counting.

Robertson’s anti-gay beliefs did not just surface during the GQ interview. In 2010, he addressed diners at the Berean Bible Church in Pennsylvania with a similarly homophobic, non-Biblical nonsensical rant.  “They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant God-haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are senseless. They are truthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”  In the Bible?  I think not.

During the anti-gay tirade he added, “They will dishonor their bodies with one another, degrade each other. Is that going on in the United States of America? Look around. ... Boy, is there some immorality going on around here.”
I don’t know which version of the Bible Robertson has been reading (or thumping) but those who condemned his suspension based on religious expression and free speech are blowing smoke.  The real targets of their fury—though they won’t ever admit it in this “PC” world they loathe so much—are the gays themselves.

When MSNBC’s Martin Bashir condemned Sarah Palin for suggesting U.S. foreign debt is comparable to slavery, he was forced to resign. Um, excuse me, but where were those champions of the First Amendment defending Bashir’s right to free speech?  Where were they when the Dixie Chicks were excoriated for speaking out against George W. Bush and the War in Iraq?
Only anti-gay bigots seem to receive that level of support.  Recall in 2012 when it was discovered that the CEO of Chick-fil-A opposed marriage equality and contributed to anti-gay organizations, the pro-equality activists called for a boycott?  Remember how the right wing homophobes responded by staging a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” with all those sympathizers stuffing their mouths with greasy chicken to demonstrate that the gays can’t push them around?

As that event was purportedly a huge success, sympathizers have recently launched a new Facebook page.   They are pushing a national “Chick-Phil-a Day” on January 21 to “stand for free speech and sit for good food” and to encourage support of “two of the biggest brands to have, in recent history, come under fire for sharing an opinion on personal faith-based beliefs:” Chick-fil-A and Phil Robertson. The page urges folks to “wear cam/Duck Commander gear to eat at a Chick-fil-a.”  Note that Chick-fil-A denied coming up with the idea though the chain will reap the rewards.
What these folks are up in arms has little to do with Scripture and free speech.  It has more to do with the right to publically condemn gays for their “sinful” behavior with impunity while society continues to recognize and support LGBT folks, much to the chagrin of Phil’s fans. 


UPDATE: On December 27, A&E reinstated Robertson.  In a statement, A&E said: “So, after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.”


RJ Ladd said...

Well said Steve, well said!

Caroline Grace said...

Let us not overlook that what he said about Blacks was extremely offensive as well. We should not look the other way on that issue, too. My thinking si that we should let A&E and others know that both outbursts are offensive.

Caroline Grace said...

Phil's comments are also extremely offensive along racial lines. We should be talking about this as well, since both aspects of his stupidity do harm. A & E was right not to give him a platform from which to broadcast his racial and anti-gay bigotry.

Steve Charing said...

Robertson's comments reflected not only insensitivity towards African-Americans during the Jim Crow era but were ignorant and inaccurate.