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Sorry ‘Duck Dynasty’, no First Amendment right to make homophobic quacks

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The Internet is ablaze after A&E suspended Phil Robertson indefinitely from “Duck Dynasty” for making anti-gay comments in a recent interview with GQ magazine.

In the interview, Phil Robertson discussed his backwoods views on the LGBT community, justifying them with the fact that he is a Christian. He said, “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?” In the same interview, Phil Robertson equated homosexuality with bestiality and revealed his racist sentiments.

In response to Phil Robertson’s statements, A&E suspended him indefinitely from filming, saying in a statement released to Entertainment Weekly, “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which . . . in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.”

Conservative politicians have spoken out against A&E and in support of Phil Robertson and the “Duck Dynasty”, including Sarah Palin and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. In a statement released on December 19, 2013, Governor Jindal said, “[T]his is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”

So much is wrong with that statement. It is a messed up situation indeed when one of our country’s political leaders does not understand the protections granted in the First Amendment. The First Amendment has never protected the rights of an individual to make hateful, bigoted comments while employed by a nongovernmental entity. The First Amendment protects an individual’s right to free speech from being silenced by the government, and even then that right can be limited. Sorry Robertson and Jindal, but the Founding Fathers simply did not grant the absolute right to voice ignorant views in the name of “free speech” or “freedom of religion”, especially when that right is being asserted against a private entity.

67-year old Phil Robertson is the patriarch of the Duck Commander kingdom in Louisiana and was the star of “Duck Dynasty”, a series that follows the duck hunting family. The success of “Duck Dynasty” has resulted in massive visibility, name recognition, and an astounding $400 million in revenues for product tie-ins, half of which came from Walmart. However, we live in an ever social conscious society, and in the coming days, it will be interesting to see whether Walmart will drop “Duck Dynasty” and its merchandise.

The new season of “Duck Dynasty” premieres on A&E on January 15 at 10:00 p.m.

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