When A&E chose to suspend Phil Robertson from their show ‘Duck Dynasty’ they were well within their rights. It was not a violation of Robertson’s 1st amendment rights because a privately owned television station is not capable of violating anyone’s 1st amendment rights.
Phil Robertson still has the same right to free speech that he had before. A&E has the right to control what speech goes on their network because that is their platform for speech. In other words, it is A&E’s 1st amendment right to control what speech they air on their network. Robertson can still say what he wants, he just can’t do it there.
If Robertson was thrown in jail for his bigoted remarks then that would be a violation of his 1st amendment rights. If A&E executives were pressured by government agents or politicians to bar him from the network after such speech then that would be a violation of his and A&E’s 1st amendment rights. None of that happened. A&E made a business decision that the message Robertson was spouting is not one they wish to be associated with. He is still free to say whatever he wants on whatever other platform he chooses.
What is truly horrifying is all of the conservative politicians scrambling to defend him, as if he needs defending. Now, it’s true, his particular brand of bigotry is one that is supported and promoted by the far right in this country. That is why speaking out against his biased and factually incorrect statements is so important.
A lot of conservatives complain that attacking him for exposing his views is being intolerant. They love to combat accusations of intolerance with their own accusations of intolerance no matter how intellectually dishonest it is to do so. Everything about the right is intellectually dishonest so that’s nothing new. Here’s the problem with that defense, being intolerant of intolerance is not in and of itself considered to be intolerance. Quite the opposite. Being intolerant of intolerance makes you a good person, a bad Republican but a good person.
This quote seems like intolerance to me. "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." There are people who think homosexuality is akin to bestiality and all sorts of similar nonsense. Public figures stating those views reinforces those beliefs held in others. That, in turn leads to more public acceptance of homophobia which in turn causes a more violent atmosphere for the LGBT community to live in.
When the opinions spouted actually cause real harm to an entire class of people then there is not only reason, but a very real need, to publicly combat those views. Not all violence is physical. There's a lot more homophobia around now than there was twenty years ago. The climate grew more "tolerant" of homophobic views during Bush's presidency when it became the uber-christian-patriotic thing to hate gay people. The LBGT community is just starting to recover from the dark period in our history known as "The Bush Years" and part of that recovery is combating homophobic views publicly.
No one is being censored, but no one is required to give him a platform to speak from either. Free Speech doesn't mean free from consequence, it just means the government isn't where the consequences come from. Due to the damage homophobic opinions cause, it is completely necessary to counter those views whenever they crop up. He has a right to say what he wants, but not without consequence.
Robertson expressed opinions that are very hurtful to some of the population. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but if stating your opinion actually causes real harm to someone (which this opinion does) then it needs to be combated. Tolerating homophobia hurts the LGBT community, tolerating homosexuals hurts nobody.