Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine… 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…
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.
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!”
-Phil Robertson, noted duck seducer
Phil? You’re fired.
So a horrible old bigot said something horrible and bigoted. Shocking, right? Except this time the horrible old bigot was also the star of the most popular TV show in the universe, A&E’s Duck Dynasty. And A&E, in an attempt to salvage the coveted gay-supporting, redneck-watching 18-45 demographic, fired him. Sorry, placed him on “indefinite suspension.”
Conservative media, of course, launched into an epic shit fit. And their arguments are, predictably, as ill-informed as their policies.
A&E is violating Phil Robertson’s First Amendment rights!
No, they aren’t. Because they can’t. The First Amendment says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Conservative pundits cry foul on two counts: that A&E are taking away Phil’s right to free speech, and his right to exercise his religion.
Here’s the thing: you see that first word there. “Congress?” A&E isn’t congress. They aren’t the federal government. They aren’t a state government. They aren’t even a town board. The constitution protects us from the government, not from … from whatever the fuck A&E shows. I sure as fuck don’t know.
But that brings us to the second argument:
You shouldn’t be fired for your opinions!
I agree. Completely. Your beliefs, and your religious practices, are your own, and shouldn’t affect your employment.
I’m a fairly liberal Democrat. A majority of the people I work with, including some of the people I supervise, are staunch, conservative Republicans. I give zero shits about this, because their belief in a 6,000 year old Earth or the therapeutic value of lax gun laws doesn’t do a goddamn thing to their job performance. Similarly, my contention that Marco Rubio is a semi-sentient cancer stuffed into a too-small business suit has no impact on my ability to deliver on a contract.
But I would have an issue if, during a meeting with our customers, one of them stood on table and started screaming about how the darkies are going to rape all our wimmens. And they would have a problem if I pulled a customer aside and started rubbing my groin while talking about Elizabeth Warren’s Presidential prospects.
And that’s what this is about. A&E didn’t take action on Phil’s beliefs or religion, they took action on his behavior in front of the customer. Sorry, Phil, but you’re a public figure, and when you make shit-headed statements, it reflects poorly on your employer.
Of course, our conservative friends counter with:
You can’t put a redneck on TV and get upset when he says redneck things!
First, these guys are about as rednecked as I am:
I hate to break it to you friends, but Duck Dynasty contains about as much reality as a Time Warner Cable ad.
But that’s okay, because the audience doesn’t really want to watch real rednecks. They want to watch a loveable, mockable caricature of rednecks. Duck Dynasty is a cartoon with surprisingly realistic graphics. It’s a chance for people who spend eight hours a day selling goddamn sweaters to horrible mall trolls to laugh at the crazy guys with the squirrels in their beards, and for stock brokers to pat themselves on the back for not being born in Louisiana.
People watch Duck Dynasty to have a good time, not to be confronted with real, good-old-boy bigotry.
Of course, being offended at someone’s stone-age philosophy is outrageous, because:
You have to tolerate my intolerance!
No, really. Fuck you. And you know what? Fuck tolerance, too.
“Tolerance” implies that you’re giving someone permission. That you have some sort of power. Asking homophobes and racists to tolerate gay people and minorities amounts to saying “You’re right! Those gays sure are disgusting, and wow are those Mexicans lazy! But hey, can you just cut them some slack? Just tolerte them?”
Horse shit. The mere existence of gay people isn’t infringing anybody’s rights. The existence of black people doesn’t make it any less awesome to be white. These privileged, powerful, protect-the-white-man’s-world-at-all-cost assholes don’t have the right to oppress the people they hate, and asking them to tolerate their victims is fucking ridiculous.
Phil Robertson has the right to hate gays, but he doesn’t have the authority to tolerate them.
And finally, the poor, oppressed conservatives crow:
He’s not hurting anybody!
Really? How many states allow gay marriage? How many states protect you from being fired for your sexual identity?
Until the answer is “all of them,” gay people are suffering very real harm, and that’s happening because of people like Phil Robertson. And in places like Uganda, where “aggravated homosexuality” can earn you life in prison, where American evangelicals are pushing for the mother fucking death penalty for homosexuals, it’s even worse.
Phil Robertson, and people like him, are causing real harm to real people. And so is anyone who gives him a pulpit to preach from. A&E did the right thing by saying he doesn’t represent their views.