Opinion: ‘Duck’ outrage goes political

December 26, 2013


The outrage industry was in high dudgeon just before Christmas over remarks “Duck Dynasty” family patriarch, Phil Robertson, made to GQ magazine about homosexuality. Outrage is the primary ingredient for political fundraising and political power. One must always have an enemy.

Let’s go down the “I Take Offense” checklist and make sure all the boxes were “ticked” before considering a larger point.

l Liberal New York writer goes slumming among the hayseeds in Louisiana and deliberately creates a controversy by asking a Bible-loving Christian to define sin. Check.

l Bible-reading Christian quotes from that book and is condemned by those who don’t read or believe what it says, or have a different “interpretation” (same thing). Check.

l The A&E; Network, on which the highest-rated cable TV show is shown (up to 14 million viewers), quickly issues an apology and “full support” for the LGBT community. Check.

l Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issues a statement noting that the twerking Miley Cyrus gets laughs, while Phil Robertson is put on indefinite hiatus. Check.

l The right to free speech is defended amid allegations that quoting the Bible promotes hate and violence against gays. Check.

l Various high-profile Christians, among them former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, denounce the “double standard” when it comes to their beliefs and the tolerance, even promotion, of beliefs and practices anathema to them. Check.

l Both sides send out fundraising appeals that ask for contributions to (pick one) fight the intolerance, hate and bigotry of the fundamentalists and their Republican allies (liberals), or keep America from sliding into the moral and cultural pit from anti-God Christian bashers (conservatives). Check. Check.

There. Now, does everyone feel better? Has everyone had their say? Has anything changed? It might, if the Robertson family carries through on its implied threat to “walk” from the show if Phil is not allowed to continue on “Duck Dynasty.” I don’t know what their contract allows, but if it permits them to leave, or if they are fired “for cause,” they are likely to “walk” their hit show and its huge audience to another network.

Now to the larger point. Christians who read the Bible, as Phil Robertson does, should be aware of verses other than the ones that list people it says can’t enter God’s Kingdom apart from faith in Jesus, who changes behavior and forgives the past. That list, by the way, includes “all liars,” which should put the fear of God into most politicians. (See Revelation 21:8)

Other passages say Christians should expect persecution, even hate, because Jesus said they would. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18) and “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).

Condemnation ought not to be the first words out of their mouths when it comes to the beliefs and lifestyles of others. Quite the opposite. Phil Robertson must be familiar with this verse: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)

Here’s a New Year’s prediction: “Duck Dynasty” will be back with Phil Robertson, either on A&E;, or another network. When it returns, the ratings will be even higher and the profits larger. As Sy Robertson might put it, “and that’s a fact, Jack.”

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Content Agency.


Paul R Getto 4 years, 3 months ago

One must always have an enemy.

True. This is a switch from the usual GOP enemy...the poor.

Mike Riner 4 years, 3 months ago

The media tends to only print what they think will inflame things and sell more newspapers or air time. They no longer seem interested in reporting the whole story, especially if it doesn't suit their needs.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years, 3 months ago

“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus"

Sounds to me like Phil Robertson is talking out of both sides of his mouth with his bigoted, racist and intolerant rant stated in his ill-fated run in with the media.

People defend this jerk with saying "It is his religion". I thought Jesus told us to love one another, not blather your tinolerance and ignorance against those you do not like.

A&E is a business that must protect it's product and image , and the image of promoting a racist, bigoted old fart is not very usefull in promoting a good business model.

Has nothing to do with free speech. He said it. It was broadcast. Sounds pretty "free" to me.

Makes you wonder about Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindhal, and Sara Palin and their buddies at the klan meetings.

Kevin Elliott 4 years, 3 months ago

Phil equated gays with beastiality and said blacks weren't singing the blues during the time of Jim Crow and lynchings. While I don't think it is that unexpected from him nor worthy of loosing the show, it is terrible to say that. As a Christian he should be able to state his beliefs without being racist or cruel.

Mike Riner 4 years, 3 months ago

Actually, Kevin, what Mr. Robertson said was “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person... The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them," Robertson said. "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!”

It's seems to me a bit different than what you make it out to be.

Bob Smith 4 years, 3 months ago

"Phil equated gays with beastiality…" No, he didn't. Read the whole thing.

Mike Ford 4 years, 3 months ago

I grew up in Shreveport LA for a couple of years after stops in Jonesville and Moss Bluff, LA in the 1970's and 1980's. We went through West Monroe and Monroe on the way to Vicksburg, Jackson, Hattiesburg and Pascagoula so I'm fully knowledgeable of this particular culture.

When a culture is at a crossroads with out of touch politicians having a civil war in the GOP and not really winning much they have to find a way to redefine themselves as the victims even as they say crazy and offensive things when as adults outside of their southern bubble they should know better. If the GOP and conservatives want to talk personal accountability then where was this present with any sense from the head bearded one? Kind of ironic isn't it. Most GOP politicians know how to speak code language. It's how they always get the 47% right? why didn't the bearded one know code language?

Bob Smith 4 years, 3 months ago

A&E remembered that they are a business and decided not to kill their golden goose.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 3 months ago

I doubt very seriously that their "highly rated show" will remain that way. Cal is whistling in the dark.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 3 months ago

People need to remember that the First Amendment only guarantees that there will be no legal repercussions to speech. It doesn't guarantee that there will be no consequences at all.
Phil can say what he likes. There will be no repercussions from the gummint. Society and his employer, on the other hand, are a completely different story. By his words, he put himself in the same class as Westboro Baptist. If he AND Cal, don't like it, tough beans.

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