I’ve never watched Duck Dynasty, but I see the faces of those guys everywhere. As I understand it (and I admit my understanding is awfully shaky here), it’s a ‘reality’ show about an eccentric Louisiana family who made a fortune by manufacturing duck calls. Now a member of that family, Phil Robertson, has said something moderately stupid and offensive about gay folks. As a result, the network that produces and broadcasts the show has removed him from the show, at least temporarily.
This, to absolutely no surprise, has pissed off a lot of conservative folks. They see the network’s action as an assault on free speech, an attack on Christian values, an insult to conservatives everywhere, and part of the gay agenda war against common decency. And probably some other stuff too.
It’s not any of those things. It’s not an assault on free speech; it was his right to free speech that caused this fuss. He freely gave an interview to a magazine, which freely published it, and which anybody who wants to read it can freely buy. It’s not an attack on Christian values; it’s a corporate decision involving Robertson’s contract, which gives the network the right to remove employees if their conduct is seen as harmful to the product (the show and the network, in this case). It’s not an insult to conservatives; it accurately depicts the opinions of a lot of conservatives about homosexuality.And it’s not a part of some mythical gay agenda; gay folks are just as diverse as straight folks, and there’s no more a gay agenda than there is a Christian agenda or an Asian agenda or a football fan agenda.
That said, Robertson has the absolute right to say whatever he wants, and good on him for being honest and open about it. And the network has the absolute right to enforce the contract they have with Robertson. And conservatives have the right to protest his termination, and gay folks have the right to boycott the network if they don’t push back against Robertson.
What this entire incident shows is the system working. Working in a way that’s sloppy, hypocritical, greed-driven, and entirely cynical, but it’s working. That’s capitalism, folks. Conservatives usually champion capitalism, and corporatism, and the right of a business to hire or fire workers as they see fit.
And by the way, I don’t recall conservatives being so upset when Alec Baldwin was fired for making anti-gay comments. I don’t recall them being so enraged when Isaiah Washington was fired from Grey’s Anatomy for making anti-gay comments. But Baldwin is something of a liberal, and Washington is black, whereas Robertson is a white conservative hunter with a really magnificent beard.
Personally, I think it’s pretty damned idiotic for a network to produce a ‘reality’ show then object to the reality.