Saturday, December 21, 2013

Truth and Consequences: Duck Dynasty edition

Racism. Homophobia. Religious Bigotry. Ducks.
The political Right has been freaking out all week long over the suspension of Phil Robertson from A&E's hit "reality" television series "Duck Dynasty." They have been screaming bloody murder about "censorship" of Robertson's views. Of course the 1st Amendment does not apply: A&E is not a government entity and is free to make a business decision. Robertson's homophobia, racism, and religious bigotry has damaged A&E's brand, and it is easy to understand why A&E would want to part ways with Robertson.

Let's be clear: Phil Robertson has a right to express his racism, homophobia, and religious bigotry . . . and A&E has every right to fire him for it. Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom from consequences.

Of course, the dirty secret is that A&E has been concealing Robertson's homophobia, racism, and religious bigotry all along.
The scandal has turned into the kind of tempest network executives feared all along. A&E knew of Robertson's controversial views - expounded in videotaped sermons and elsewhere - before the show premiered in spring 2012, and warned him not to overshare on hot-button topics such as gay rights and race relations, according to a producer familiar with the situation. Phil and other family members also probably signed contracts containing "morals clauses" in which they promised to, among other things, avoid anything that would embarrass or bring shame to A&E or the brand. Such clauses are standard in the entertainment and sports industries.[1]
A&E has been selectively editing the Robertson family all along to portray them as something other than what they are. In short, there is nothing real about A&E's so called "reality" show "Duck Dynasty."

The real story here is not A&E's decision to part ways with Phil Robertson; the real story is why would A&E's executives knowingly provide a racist, homophobic, religious bigot with a platform from which he could promote his views?

As for the Right's defense of Phil Robertson's racism, homophobia, and religious bigotry; it speaks volumes about what the Right wing's values really are. Yesterday, Ugandan law makers--egged on by American evangelicals like Phil Robertson--passed a law that would put gays in jail for life. American evangelicals have previously sought the death penalty for gays in Uganda. Americans evangelicals have also been implicated in the anti-gay crackdowns in Vladmir Putin's Russia.

The American Right Wing's war on homosexuality has real consequences. While the Right Wing is clearly losing here in the United States, they are inflicting human rights violations on innocent people in Russia and Africa. The American Right Wing is exporting oppression around the world. I applaud A&E's decision to suspend Phil Robertson. I only wish that A&E had never decided to empower and promote Mr. Robertson. A&E has permanently damaged its brand in my view.

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