Friday, December 20, 2013

Phil Robertson and Free Speech

Yes, that's all this is. One man's opinion. Nothing more than that.
For the perpetually outraged, those who can't wait to pounce on anyone who speaks outside the boundaries of political correctness, I'm so sorry to douse the flames because what Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson said is nothing more than that, his opinion.

In case you missed it, and maybe you aren't familiar with who Phil Robertson is, let's back up a bit. Mr. Robertson is a former high school, college and from all accounts, could have been an NFL quarterback. Robertson, now 67, gave up a potential career in the NFL because he is first and foremost, an avid hunter and outdoorsman.

Football season simply interfered with hunting season and that was all Phil needed to make his decision not to play pro football.

Phil was also married at this time with three boys. The other remarkable part of this story is that while in college at Louisiana Tech, Phil Robertson was the starting quarterback keeping NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw on the bench.

As Robertson says, " Bradshaw went for the bucks, I went for the ducks."

Phil Robertson grew up dirt poor in rural Louisiana and has never forgotten his roots nor the skills he learned to survive. You see, hunting is not a hobby for Phil Robertson, it was how his family survived. Just like many from my father's generation, (the WWII generation which are older than Phil) it is ingrained in Phil's DNA not to change his ways. If you watch Duck Dynasty, Phil often admonishes his "yuppie grandkids fresh from the subdivision" that there will be no french fries or McNuggets if it all goes down.

What he is speaking about is the need to have the skills to be able to make do if McDonald's isn't around any longer.Those who either grew up with nothing or have had experience in having everything either taken away or lost it all typically do not lose the instinct to squander or waste. That is the lesson Phil teaches his grandkids.

After college, Robertson rammed around as a bar owner and as he puts it hit rock bottom. He found God and turned his life around and since then has never changed his ways about his faith, family and hunting.

What made Robertson so famous so that he has a reality show about him and his family?

Duck calls.

Phil didn't like the duck calls that were state of the art in the 1970's, so he started making his own which eventually led to his creating a company called Duck Commander which has made him and his family very, very wealthy.

None of the fame and fortune has changed Phil Robertson at all, in fact he sees it as a way for him to deliver God's word, which what he believes is his mission.

Phil Robertson is not the first person to profess his faith in God nor will he be the last. Phil Robertson is a man of great conviction and is very strong is his beliefs. I wrote about his background in brief to illustrate what kind of man he is and where he comes from.

The Controversy

GQ's Drew Magary went down to spend some time in Robertson's home town of West Monroe, Louisiana and wrote an article about what he experienced.

In the article, Magary asked Robertson a question. What followed is typical of how the general media handles any quote that is "controversial"

Here's what was quoted:

“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.”

The quote is pretty much thrown in at the beginning of the article as a teaser as Magary paints a picture about Robertson's convictions and how he speaks his mind.

Here's how the quote was framed in the article:

Out here in these woods, without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants. Maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality, and there’s no stopping them from rushing out. Like this one:

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.”

Magary is correct, in his element, Phil speaks his mind and if you've ever watched Duck Dynasty, the show pretty much revolves around each family member sitting in front of the camera commenting on what is going on in the show and largely in Phil's case, how he views the world.

That is Phil Robertson.

If you read through the article you will find more in context with the comment Robertson made about homosexuality and society in general:

“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

What does repentance entail? Well, in Robertson’s worldview, America was a country founded upon Christian values (Thou shalt not kill, etc.), and he believes that the gradual removal of Christian symbolism from public spaces has diluted those founding principles. (He and Si take turns going on about why the Ten Commandments ought to be displayed outside courthouses.) He sees the popularity of Duck Dynasty as a small corrective to all that we have lost.

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“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.”

This is a religious man answering a question honestly. He believes in the Bible and answered the question. For everyone to go into an uproar about a Christian answering a question with an unvarnished answer is truly laughable.

Here's a quote from GLAAD Director of News Ross Murray:

The Robertsons, the family whose duck hunting products have made them a fortune, are breakout stars featured in A&E’s Duck Dynasty. GQ Magazine’s profile of Phil Robertson included some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication. His quote was littered with outdated stereotypes and blatant misinformation.

Murray has to first point out that a) the Robertsons are wealthy which, depending on where you fall on the politically correct spectrum, is a major no-no, then b) labels Robertson's statements as vile and extreme. And c) how dare he make those statements in a mainstream publication!!!!

So let me get this straight, a man makes a comment that he finds a woman to be more desirable than a man, then goes on to state that in his mind, homosexuality is a sin, and that is labeled as vile and extreme?

Well then, I must have missed the part where all religion and heterosexuality were condemned in our society.

 Yes, Ross Murray, neanderthals like Phil Robertson should go crawl back to their respective caves and never be allowed to speak publicly about their personal beliefs.

You see, Phil Robertson does not care about being politically correct or "saying the right thing" not to stir up controversy. In fact, it's the opposite, he feels that because we as a nation have not spoken up about moral issues that opinions like his are now considered to be vile and extreme by people like Ross Murray.

Here's what's wrong with this whole "controversy":

Why is it that if you do not agree with homosexuality due to religious convictions that it is "vile and extreme"? Phil Robertson is not advocating any ill will toward anyone who, in his view is living in sin, nor is he advocating violence or anything else. He's simply stating his views on the subject.

Whether you agree with him or not, he is entitled to his opinion.

Murray goes on to state:

The statement is far outside of the mainstream understanding of LGBT people. In Louisiana, which passed a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, 56% of the population support some sort of legal recognition, marriage or civil unions, for gay and lesbian couples according to Public Policy Polling released in August 2013.

So according to Mr. Murray, that because 56% of the population support some form of unions for lesbians and gays, Phil Robertson should toe the line and shut his mouth.

The way I see it, Phil Robertson is in the other 44% that may or may not support that type of lifestyle. Unfortunately, there are small percentage in that 44% that do extreme and vile things, just as there are in the 56 percentile, but I'm pretty certain that Phil Robertson isn't one of them.

And in that same article, let's attack Robertson's Christianity as well:

"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 GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "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."

Why is it necessary to vilify and demonize anyone who has a contrary view to what anyone else believes? Phil Robertson didn't. He simply stated his beliefs. He didn't say anyone who is gay is vile and extreme, he simply stated that he believes it is a sin and that will deny you entrance to heaven. Whether you or anyone else believes that or not doesn't matter. It is not a vile and extreme belief, it is something that many others believe but because of the political climate we live in, are afraid to say because they will be vilified as well.

Liberals preach tolerance, except when you disagree with them. Then you're vile and extreme.

A&E is wrong to "suspend" Phil Robertson which is also laughable because the new season starts on January 15 and I'm sure that Phil will be in all the new episodes which were obviously shot well before the Magary interview.

If A&E wants to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, over what should be fairly benign comments by a man whose religious beliefs are hardly a secret, then so be it. An average of 12 million viewers watch Duck Dynasty each week. When you consider that new episodes air at 10 pm, that number of viewers is absolutely remarkable.

To put that in perspective, Breaking Bad widely considered to be the most viewed series in cable history, had 14 million viewers in its finale.

I'm sure Phil Robertson would gladly walk away from A&E without compromising his convictions.

The Robertson family issued this statement:

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision.  We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.  While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.  We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.   Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

It's too bad that this has become such a firestorm, but it does remind of the Chick-fil-a controversy from the summer of 2012. 

Somehow, both Chick-fil-a and Phil Robertson will carry on.

In case you're not familiar with Phil and how he speaks, here's a video that pretty much summarizes who he is in about 2 minutes:


He is who he is and makes no bones about it.
You don't like him or what he says, don't watch the show or read his books, etc.
Pretty simple.

And for those of you who think that Phil Robertson is an ignorant, uneducated hillbilly, the man has a masters degree in education.

He is not a vile and extreme man, please stop with the faux outrage over someone expressing themselves.

Isn't that what all "tolerant" liberals want?
For everyone to express themselves?

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