It's not clear whether or not A&E knew of "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson's opinion of the LGBT community prior to creating the series. That, however, is a theory posited by TMZ on Friday, when it discovered and posted an anti-gay rant captured on video, earlier.
The embedded video is from a 2010 sermon by Robertson at Berean Bible Church in Pennsylvania. "Duck Dynasty" did not hit the air until 2012. That could mean that A&E knew of his opinion of the gay community prior to the series, during their assumed vetting process, but it isn't solid evidence.
It does, however, mean that Robertson hasn't (recently) changed his tune on the matter.
A&E suspended Robertson from the popular reality series earlier this week. Since then, petitions have been raised, with one of them already past 100,000 signatures by early Friday morning.
Celebrities such as Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity have chimed in as well, calling the decision of A&E a violation of free speech. Others, though, have pointed out that A&E is not saying Robertson does not have the right to say what he did. Instead, the network is saying they have the right to fire him at any time.
If, in fact, such statements were free speech, then people who dissed their companies or clients or made similar comments and were fired could not be terminated either. Remember these three hosts, fired after mocking a former NFL player, now suffering from ALS.
The question as to whether or not Robertson remains suspended is still open.