Response from conservative, Christian, and pro-family commentators and leaders has been strong in the wake of the forced “hiatus” of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson (shown on left) from the popular A&E show over public comments Robertson made about the sinfulness of homosexuality.
Robertson, who has been outspoken about the no-compromise Christian lifestyle he and his family embrace, was interviewed on a number of issues for an article appearing in the January 2014 issue of GQ magazine. But it was his views on homosexuality that drew the most interest — and for which A&E producers pulled the plug, at least temporarily — on Robertson's appearance on the popular show.
When the far-ranging interview naturally turned to his Christian faith, Robertson spoke about the need to repent from sin. “What, in your mind, is sinful?” asked GQ reporter Drew Magary, to which Robertson responded: “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.”
Robertson didn't just target the sin of homosexuality, however. “Don’t be deceived,” he added, paraphrasing I Corinthians 1 Corinthians 6:9. “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.”
In his frank and crusty manner, Robertson managed to make comments that infuriated homosexual men. “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” Robertson observed. “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.”
Reaction from self-appointed homosexual activist spokespersons came quickly and with a predictable demand that A&E drop the wildly popular show. “Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe,” said the homosexual group Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”
While A&E had initially remained silent on Robertson's comments, after GLAAD's statement network officials moved quickly to distance the network from Robertson, announcing that they had temporarily pulled Robertson off the show. “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,” an A&E statement read. “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.”
GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz applauded A&E's pro-homosexual rhetoric and decision to cave in, at least partially, to his organization's demands. “What’s clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike,” Cruz said in a statement. “By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value.”
For his part, Robertson defended his comments as reflective of his strong Christian values, while emphasizing that he is not “hateful” toward homosexuals. “I myself am a product of the 60s,” explained the Duck Dynasty patriarch. “I centered my life around sex, drugs, and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.” He confirmed that as a Christian “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
While the major media focused on the predictable response of A&E and the homosexual community to Robertson's candor, conservative and pro-family leaders who have praised the Robertson clan's unabashed commitment to Christian and traditional values had a very different take.
“Phil Robertson is a new American hero,” wrote the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer on Twitter. “He said exactly what the great majority of Americans believe. Phil Robertson is right. It’s a simple matter of plumbing. Easy to figure out what is supposed to go where. And where not.”
Conservative Fox News commentator Todd Starnes tweeted that it was little more than disingenuous for the major media to pretend to be shocked “that Duck Dynasty staff believes in the teachings of the Bible.” Added Starnes in a later tweet: “Shouldn’t Americans be allowed to hold personal beliefs — even if you don't agree with them?”
In a follow-up article, Starnes wrote that had Robertson been caught “twerking with a duck the network probably would’ve given him a contract extension. But because he espoused beliefs held by many Christians, he’s been silenced.” He added that “perhaps A&E could provide the nation with a list of what they believe is politically correct speech.”
Even Governor Bobby Jindal from Robertson's native Louisiana offered his support, saying in a statement that it is a “messed-up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.” Added the governor: “Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the state of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with. I don’t agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment.”
Some fans have launched a petition drive to pressure A&E to rescind its “hiatus” for the 67-year-old Duck Dynasty patriarch. “Simply put, Phil Robertson is being censored and punished for quoting the Bible, and A&E's treatment of him is punitive and highly discriminatory,” said Chris Stone of Faith Driven Consumer, which is behind the petition drive at IstandwithPhil.com. “Everyday people will not stand for this. They know bullying and violation of religious freedom when they see it. A&E's actions are censoring faith-driven consumers and eliminating them from an entertainment choice that they have overwhelmingly supported.”
In an open letter to A&E, conservative blogger Matt Walsh pointed out that the network's decision to censor and control the lead star in one of the most popular shows on TV was nothing less than a “suicide” move. “If you don’t bring Phil back immediately, and publicly apologize to him and to his viewers for attempting to censor his Christian faith, Duck Dynasty will leave your network, find a new home, and all of those ratings will go somewhere else,” predicted Walsh. “Then you’ll be stuck with the stragglers who feel like spending a Saturday rubbernecking at mentally disturbed elderly women with compulsive hoarding addictions. That’s how this is going to play out. Congratulations.”
Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel told The New American that “A&E has pandered to the wrong group and will find out quickly that Christians and people who share traditional values have made Duck Dynasty the most popular cable non-fiction shown in history.” Staver added that the network had “insulted Christians and most Americans who believe that homosexual behavior is immoral and sinful. A&E should apologize for censoring Phil Robertson. I am sure other cable networks would love to carry Duck Dynasty.”
In a bit of further irony, TV listings for A&E for the next week show that the network is highlighting the movie The Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman, who recently has viciously lashed out at people who do not hold his same beliefs. He called those who believe that homosexuality is wrong "a**holes," called Tea Party people "racists," and said about Tea Partiers when asked if racism had gotten worse under Obama, "Their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What’s, what does that, what underlines that? 'Screw the country. We’re going to whatever we do to get this black man, we can, we’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man outta here.'" He added, "It just shows the weak, dark, underside of America." A&E obviously has no problem ignoring politically correct hate, even as it punishes a man who would, as he says himself, "never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me."
Photo of Duck Dynasty stars: AP Images