I think the most important thing about what Phil Robertson said is what he said at the end:
I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.
And what he didn’t say:
He asked for no new laws, he asked for nothing to be taken from one group and given to another, he asked for no force to be applied against people whose choices he disagreed with. He didn’t ask that the DSM V be dialed back to the DSM II or something, he just voiced an unpopular belief to the media in a direct, folksy way.
Folks who are legimately of very solid faith are often the type who can hate the sin, but love the sinner, regardless of what it might be. They pray for people they disagree with to see what they view as right, but they don’t try to force other people to live their way, either – forced piety would defeat the purpose and would mean someone doesn’t choose their path. That older traditionalist mindset, but still respectful of the individual way of living per classic enlightenment views, is an attitude towards life that is part of the appeal of the show – for many it’s alien, for others it’s comforting. From the few episodes I’ve seen, they are live and let live folks.
For the most part, I consider the entire ruffling of feathers over this to be something that should just be water off a duck’s back. No one should care. It neither breaks anyone’s leg nor picks their pocket.
It’d make a lot more sense for A&E to simply take advantage of the comments and ask the Duck Dynasty folks to interact with some normal gay people (not activists). The discussion would probably be a lot more of a “teachable moment” or something anyway, or allow for an understanding of two different cultures – those mad at Duck Dynasty (who don’t watch it anyway), and those who have harsher views than Robertson’s upsetting but ultimately benign religious disagreement.
Objectively, one could also ask how many gay people are benefiting from the merchandising and financial success of the show through employment or investment in A&E or some other way – and how that prosperity is apathetic on sexual orientation. A&E may be killing the goose that’s laying the golden egg here, since the Duck Dynasty family doesn’t need them, and without recognizing that all it would take is discussion if they wanted to counter Robertson’s opinions with their own – and it would make good TV. They could go shooting with some folks from the Pink Pistols… and they’d probably all get along fine.
But instead A&E is choosing to can him, and gay activists are going apoplectic. Just like didn’t happen with employers and gay activists when Alec Baldwin was actually using anti-gay slurs and threatening people with physical violence.
The contrast is even greater when you consider the difference in societal anger between what’s directed at Robertson and what’s directed at the lame duck, who is our employee and has lied about the murders of US citizens at home and abroad, including leaving our ambassador to Libya – who was gay – to die. The lame duck is destroying our health care, is targeting us with revenue agents, and is spying on us. We have an employee who is out to harm us and mass media make excuses for him and ignore actions and force; while they get angry at Robertson.
It’s a damn shame people are getting infuriated about a man’s opinion they disagree with, but who ultimately uses no force and advocates none, while they ignore a man targeting us all who uses force and advocates more.
Update: At least one gay writer has questioned the stance of taking offense and demanding silence.
Why is our go-to political strategy for beating our opponents to silence them? Why do we dismiss, rather than engage them? One of the biggest pop-culture icons of today just took center stage to “educate” us about sexuality. I see this as an opportunity to further the discussion, to challenge his limited understanding of human desire, to engage with him and his rather sizable audience — most of whom, by the way, probably share his views — and to rise above the endless sea of tweet-hate to help move our LGBT conversations to where they need to go.
G.K. Chesterton said that bigotry is “an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.” If he is right — and he usually is — then I wonder if the Duck Dynasty fiasco says more about our bigotry than Phil’s.
He does spend almost the entirety of the piece saying Robertson is wrong, wrong, wrong, and he can’t see that moral authority he claims is why the gay community’s go-to political strategy is to silence people. Except for Alec Baldwin, of course. And anyone else who’s on the political left and supports the correct causes.
The most important point he brings up might be this:
But I also think that if I were to spend a day calling ducks with Phil, I’d probably end up liking him — even in spite of his position on gay men.
You don’t have to agree with the guy on everything to get along. And Robertson isn’t advocating any harm to anyone or government or other coercive force be used against them.
And some gay dudes from the umpteenth spinoff of Storage Wars found a much less destructive, much more hilarious way to disagree:
An openly gay couple on A&E’s “Storage Wars: New York” is NOT offended by the homophobic comments made by fellow A&E’er and “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson — telling TMZ, they just feel bad for him … because man ass beats vagina any day of the week.
It’s crude, offensive to some folks in probably the same way Robertson’s were offensive to others, but it’s also funny.
Chris and Tad aren’t fazed, telling us, “You can’t go through life worrying what other people think. That’s their values and that’s what they think … as long as they’re not nasty to people … We’re not offended at all.”
Tolerance means you don’t have to agree, but if somebody isn’t harming you or advocating harm, it’s probably not that important, either. You don’t have to send people to the Death Camp of Tolerance.