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Duck Dynasty: A+E Spin on their Welcome Back Phil

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In one of the most famous about-face statements since Classic Coke was brought back amid an uproar over New Coke, on December 27th A+E has lifted the suspension of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty.

What happened? The people spoke and corporate America listened.

Phil Robertson has the clear right to say what he believes as long as it doesn’t put the safety and security of others at risk. It’s the rule that freedom of speech stops at yelling FIRE in a crowded theater.

Corporate America has the right to suspend people and cancel a TV series. Although it rarely does so if the series is popular.

Phil made too graphic statements about gays (which are not suitable for inclusion into this article), and included bestiality (always a very bad thing). "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." He also made naive bordering on stupid statements about blacks. Read the GQ Interview

A+E with a more liberal take on things got riled up, and suspended him.

Cue the firestorm of protest.

I watched four episodes of Duck Dynasty as a result of this fire fight. Phil Robertson is clearly the pompous member of the family – evaluating everyone and with a sense of entitlement to do so. I can’t help thinking Judge Not Lest You Be Judged but clearly he’s already concluded he’s passed this test, which is the essence of the full biblical passage Matthew 7:1 (and yes, I did read it).

If the rest of the family was like him, I doubt anyone would watch for long. However, the rest of the clan is in-your-face as much as Phil, but without his superior attitude (can there be anyone as difficult as a sinner who has seen the light?) and his martyred looks. In fact, they are funny, and quite likable. Is Phil a likable character? No, but he is a crucial counterpoint. And he’s family.

What is A+E to do?
The protests over his statement rising. The protests over their suspending him rising. In a feat of sleight of hand suddenly Phil and the family are seen as regularly coming together “to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.”

But wait... there’s more. Acceptance has been added.

A+E will create and air a “national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty.”

Phil Robertson has been reborn. And A+E, Duck Dynasty, and Phil have become the epitome of values that no one could possibly dislike. Read the full A+E statement

This might indeed be a win-win situation.

Viewers get their beloved Duck Dynasty, and A+E promotes tolerance and acceptance. An uneasy Kumbaya moment. I wish them well. Whether likely or not, we could all use a huge dose of tolerance and acceptance. And the show is genuinely funny.

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