They say any publicity is good publicity in show business, but A&E should be ashamed for reinstating Phil Robertson due to pressure from their fan base.
Pseudo-reality television star of A&E’s widely popular Duck Dynasty series, Robertson recently got himself in hot water over an interview he granted to GQ in which he spewed boorish nonsense on issues ranging from homosexuality to historical race-relations in the southern United States.
After issuing him a short suspension from the show, A&E gave in to pressure from their right-wing conservative fan base and reinstated Robertson to the show — a poor choice.
It is unfortunate that A&E did this without requiring an apology or retraction from Robertson, since much of what he said was intolerant, ignorant and factually incorrect.
In the interview Robertson claims sin will “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 continues on to include homosexuals with drunks and terrorists in the list of individuals of whom it is God’s job — and apparently not his — to judge.
Ironically, Robertson also includes idolaters as those who are sinful and unable to inherit God’s kingdom, ignoring the millions of fans who idolise Robertson himself for his ability to shoot innocent, unsuspecting and unarmed ducks. This family plasters their faces on all kinds of merchandise and yet Robertson still claims those who enjoy the program are destined for eternal damnation.
After Robertson’s suspension, religious right-wing pundits such as failed US vice-presidential candidate and former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin rushed to Robertson’s defence and claimed his freedom of speech had been violated.
However, this is not a violation of free speech. Robertson has complete freedom to believe and preach whatever skewed interpretation of the Bible he wishes to, and A&E is just as free to fire him for spouting such intolerance.
No one from the government is preventing Robertson from starting his own network and preaching his ignorance. After all, freedom of a speech is a right we all have, but it’s a constitutional right — not one that is decided by television networks.
While homosexuality is a big no-no for Robertson, he does have some advice for those who wish to enter into a wholesome and traditional heterosexual relationship — do it with 15-year-olds.
According to remarks made at a 2009 Christian retreat, Robertson says 15-year-olds are better wives than 20-year-olds because 20-year-old women will be in it for money. He also reminds those in the audience to make sure their future wives always carry Bibles and cook hot meals. What else could a man need, right?
Aside from the garbage Robertson has to say about homosexuality and marriage, his GQ interview is laden with all sorts of other ramblings on the topic of racial-segregation in the southern USA during the Jim Crow years.
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person,” Robertson said. “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! … They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Robertson’s recollection of a violent and shameful era of American history is a blatant contrast from the reality of the harsh and oppressive treatment black people endured during racial segregation in the south.
If we were to believe that Robertson is simply uneducated and hasn’t been exposed to the actual history he’s speaking on, then this may be an excusable misunderstanding and a learning opportunity for Robertson.
However, with a master’s degree in education, Robertson is not as simple as he makes himself look. For someone with that level of education, the claims he makes about historical race-relations are unacceptable.
Robertson goes on employing selective historical falsehoods to blast anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus as their saviour.
He blames Shintoism’s lack of Jesus for the Pearl Harbor attacks, and claims that Islam is without Jesus and as a result is a murderous religion (the holy figure actually does hold a place within Islam as a prophet).
Of course, Robertson makes no mention of Christianity’s own past throughout the Crusades, Inquisitions, witch-hunts and residential-schools. That would be blasphemous.
Many who defend Robertson’s intolerance towards homosexuality use the lame excuse of loving the sinner but hating the sin. This stance is an excuse used to make people feel bad about who they are and persuade them to try some sort of pseudo-therapeutic process of converting themselves or oppressing their sexuality.
It should be noted that Jesus never once mentioned homosexuality that we know of, let alone condemned it. Perhaps Jesus was a little more progressive than today’s right-wing fundamentalists on this issue.
Maybe Jesus had the common sense and basic humanity to realize that two individuals in a loving and consensual relationship — regardless of sexuality — will not “morph” into animal rapists, as Robertson claims.
Alas, hopefully in the future A&E will have better judgement when it comes to dealing with homophobia on their shows. In the mean time it seems there is nothing more important in show business than the almighty dollar.
Graphic: Mike Tremblay