What a dynasty.
You’ve probably heard by now that the fully-bearded Duck Commander Phil Robertson had some choice things to say about his personal views regarding faith and sexuality – and as a result, he earned a suspension from the producers of his own TV show Duck Dynasty, A&E.
In a GQ profile entitled, What the Duck? the squirrel-eating and duck hunting patriarch of duck mating calls made the following remarks:
‘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.’
‘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…don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.’
Wow. Just… wow.
He made even more offensive remarks regarding racial segregation, implying blacks had it better and were happy under Jim Crow. It surprises me not at all that A&E would suspend (or fire!) someone for making such inflammatory and offensive remarks. In addition to his blatantly oblivious comments about race, Robertson did not merely state that he held to a conservative or traditional view of sexual ethics; instead he perpetuated an outdated stereotype of the LGBT community by articulating destructive and dehumanizing misinformation in an unhelpfully crude manner.
Any business with an ounce of business sense would distance themselves from such a statement… regardless of whether or not it came from a self-professing Christian (one example – it was just less than a month ago that Alec Baldwin had his show suspended [and terminated two weeks later] by MSNBC for making a gay slur during a confrontation with a photographer. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t planning on praying at the end of his show).
Yet already the blogosphere and social media sites are abuzz with folks making predictions and audacious claims about an all-attack on christians and free speech in good ole’ ‘Muricah. The petitions for A&E to bring phil back to Duck Dynasty have already begun, and I’m certain this will be a big conversation at many a Christmas dinner. Free speech versus tolerance versus business versus religion versus…
But listen. It’s really not all that complicated. Phil Robertson – and Pat Robertson (no relation that i know of) and Mike Huckabee and self-proclaimed theologians and the quacks at Westboro Baptist and the KKK -andeverybody else in this country can say whatever the heck they want short of yelling FIRE! in a crowded room. They can believe what they want and worship where they want and pray how they want and they can heckle at funerals of soldiers and hold wretched signs at gay pride parades.
That’s their right.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for their words and actions. That doesn’t mean that when they earn a suspension or lose their platform or have their show cancelled or lose fans or even have to shut down their bakery for refusing to serve other human beings who are protected by law that there’s some sort of religious persecution going on in our country, anymore than it means there is a so-called war on Christmas when someone says ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Season’s Greetings.’
Words matter. How we use them matters. How we behave matters – maybe even more than what beliefs we subscribe to. For example, Pope Francis was voted not only as TIME magazines ‘Person of the Year’, but was also chosen as the ‘Person of the Year’ for the oldest LGBT publication in the states, Advocate magazine – because of the ‘significant and unprecedented shift’ that took place in how he has affected the perspective of one of the world’s largest faith communities toward gays and lesbians. Perhaps the biggest moment of building bridges between the gay community and the Catholic Church came during a September interview in which Pope Francis recalled,
‘A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.’ he continued, ‘If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?’
As pope, Francis has not yet said that the Roman Catholic Church supports civil unions between same-sex couples. He has not yet changed the theology of the Church. But what he has done is set an example for how conservative christians – Catholic and Protestant alike – can talk about issues of faith and sexuality without sounding like absolute quacks.
We should pay attention, and follow suit.