If Phil Robertson has struggled with homosexuality and has turned to religion to save him from what he considers a sin he has every right to engage in that private struggle. If Phil Robertson is a racist and believes African-Americans were happier under the lash of slavery and Jim Crow laws he also has the right to believe those things. The recent controversy/publicity stunt involving the Duck Dynasty star’s personal views allows us to take a moment to reflect on our personal behavior and the Golden Rule. How do we treat people and what policies do we advance for the good of all even people we regard as lesser or sinful?
This is the crux of the A&E decision to celebrate Robertson and his views. There is no doubt that a subset of Americans long for the ‘good old days’ when Blacks were under heel and gays were in the closet. Those days are over yet millions of ‘dead-enders’ continue to fight the last war and wish to revert to a different time and way of life. Now A&E sees profits in the Fox News Channel model and those sponsors and viewers lost are simply collateral damage on the way to higher profits.
The question now is what will A&E become?
The possibilities are endless in this new Duck Dynasty genre:
- Fred Phelps: I Hate Fags; hunting down gay Americans for forced conversion therapy. One wonders what kind of call the Duck Dynasty crew would create to lure this prey.
- Newt Gingrich: Food Stamp Patrol using undercover cameras to catch America’s poor buying meat that doesn’t come in a can and publicly shaming them.
- Tom Tancredo: Papers Please game show giving contestants cash and prizes to stop brown people on the street and demand proof of citizenship. Don’t worry if they’ve got papers they must be fake so points will be awarded for confiscating them.
- Joseph Farah: CSI: Birther Nation, watch the meticulous skill and deception practiced in this procedural about fake birth certificates and newspaper advertisements in an effort to elect a native born American citizen president of Kenya.
What could have led to a statement of contrition and true acts of Christian charity by Robertson after his awkward attempt to speak to his interpretation of scripture and Americanism has become a statement by a television network doubling down on hate and ignorance. In for a dime; in for a dollar as they say. A&E can’t back down now.