Duck Dynasty And The Religious Right’s Defense Of Bigotry

I would defend the right of Phil Robertson to express whatever opinions he has, however hateful. The creator of Duck Dynasty had this to say in an interview with GQ:

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“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. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Robertson has the right to express his views. However, this does not mean he has any right to be provided an outlet for his views or work, such as a cable network. I don’t really care either way whether A&E dumps his show, any more than I really care about MSNBC dumping Alec Baldwin. That is a decision each network has the right to make, but I’m not sure why anyone at A&E is all that surprised by the views expressed by someone from a redneck fundamentalist Christian reality show.

Despite uninformed cries from the right wing, which always loves to claim to be the victim of an injustice, this is not a First Amendment issue or an issue of free speech, regardless of what Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz might believe. This is hardly the first time Palin has showed a lack of understanding of the First Amendment, as I have pointed out here and here.

The religious right believes it is okay to express hatred based upon sexual orientation because they find support for their vile views in the Bible. The Bible is a work written by men, and interpreted in different ways by different men.  They are free to have whatever religious views they desire and attribute whatever significance they desire to the Bible or any other book. They cannot expect that everyone else will simply ignore their expressions of prejudice because this is their religious view or because their views are supported in the writings of their religion. The Bible is a book written by men in a different era, some of whom did not hold the same ethical views we hold in the modern world. Finding support for one’s views in a book does not legitimatize them. To use the Bible to support expressions of hatred toward homosexuals is no more legitimate than to use Mein Kampf to support expressions of hatred toward Jews. These evil and hateful views are evil, regardless of the source. They have the right to express their views, but should not be surprised by the reaction from those living in the modern world which the religious right rejects.

Some conservatives see this as a war against Christ and Christianity. If secular liberals are engaged in a war of ideas, it is a war in support of individual liberty and reason. This has been the war of ideas being waged by liberals since the age of enlightenment. If the religious right sees themselves as the opponents in such a war of ideas, so be it.

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  1. 1
    Beach Bum says:

    I have to admit, in a way I find this situation funny as hell. These Duck people never gave any indication that they were anything but proverbial trailer trash. I know A&E is upset about how this might affect the network ratings but what did they expect when they began running this show?
    Secondly, I always felt the Duck show was moronic but as a huge fan of the Dixie Chicks I find the Robertson’s whining about their rights kind of a karmic chicken coming home to roost.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    We have a combination of common right wing problems leading to the incoherence in their responses on this matter, ranging from a poor understanding of the concept of freedom of speech and the First Amendment to the desire of  conservatives to see themselves as victims. This is further complicated by their failure to understand freedom as a universal concept which must apply to all sides.

  3. 3
    Grung_e_Gene says:

    Ron, the right is falling all over themselves to defend Phil. They can’t wait to espouse their bigotry. For decades now conservatives have been told they are losing their Dominance over America. President Obama’s election and the march of civil rights infuriate them.
    Conservative Values are Oppression, Subjugation and Adulation of the Rich. Conservatives hate Democracy and Freedom.
    What Republicans don’t like are the consequences of their free speech. Republicans don’t believe in Personal Responsibility. Conservatives believe in Right-Wing Supremacy. Right-Wing Victimhood never howls so loud as when people point out their intolerant, hateful bigotry.

  4. 4
    Alan H says:

    I do not agree with everything Phil said and I have friends who are gay, minority, and other religions or no religion. I do think he has the right to his own beliefs and if asked about them he has the right to express those beliefs. Are we not a free nation anymore? Only extreme left wingers can express their beliefs now? You don’t have to agree or listen or like it, but he has the right to say it just like any of us have a right to. People need to stop worrying about their own agendas and work to make this a place where we can get along and mutually agree to disagree without having a hissy fit. Grow up people and learn to be an adult. There have been lot worse and harsher things said about the LGBT community. Eminem lyrics for one, but he is an artist so he has a right to express himself. Look in the mirror and grow some balls people. Stop being so sensitive just because someone doesn’t agree with you.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Have you even bothered to read what others have said about this or read the post? I am not denying him the right to state his beliefs. In fact, I said the opposite, supporting his right to express his beliefs and questioned the decision by A&E. What should they expect when they do a reality show about rednecks?

    However, that does not change the fact that expression of such hatred towards homosexuals and blacks is going to lead to a reaction, and if A&E decides they do not desire to be associated with him, that is their right.

    I realize that conservatives often do not understand the concept of rights, but you do not have the right to force A&E and others to provide him air time on a network they own. Other people have the right to express criticism of Phil’s views. It works both ways. Conservatives do not have the right to decide who can say what, and then act like victims when others do not go along with them.

    By the way, do you consider everyone you don’t agree with to be “extreme left wingers?” One does not need to be an extreme right winger to oppose such expressions of hatred and intolerance towards others.

  6. 6
    Aaron says:

    Pundits, politicians,and citizens make conservatives looks stupid in how they defend this guy.  His comments are ignorant and potentially dangerous.

  7. 7
    Alan H says:

    I was being sarcastic with “extreme left wingers” comment. I do agree that A&E can continue or terminate their working together with the Robertson’s. That is their choice. I was not saying no one should criticize his comments either. I do not agree with everything he said either. I am just so tired of the media being so biased one way or the other. News is not reported as it should be now days, everyone seems to have their own agenda, left and right. I am an independent and vote and support who I think will do the best. These days it is very hard to find anyone with integrity in politics. If everyone would move to the middle and learn tolerance we could solve some of  the issues we have in this country. I am pro abortion, my wife is pro life, we still get along . We have been married 23 years, together 27 years. I have family who range from very conservative to very liberal. We can discuss our beliefs and still love and care for each other without hard feelings because we all believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when attacking minorities, especially ones who have been the subject of persecution, he cannot expect the comments to go by without response.

    In this case I suspect that Robertson expected the response and might even welcome it. Despite all the claims of being victims on conservative sites (along with the false use of the First Amendment), I think that Robertson and Duck Dynasty will come out ahead after all this publicity. Either A&E will revoke his suspension or another network will pick up the show, and they will wind up making even more money.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Also keep in mind that the reaction on liberal blogs is far more in reaction to the defenses of Robertson from conservatives than response to Robertson’s initial comments.

    There are essentially two common defenses of Robertson which we object to: 1) The claim that it is a First Amendment issue, and that 2) Robertson’s attack on homosexuals is justified because of passages in the Bible.

  10. 10
    Alan H says:

    Ron, I agree. They will make more money because of this. There has been speculation that this was done for the Robertson’s to get out of the contract or A&E to get out of it because they disapprove of the hunting and prayer at the end of the show.Who knows? When something like this happens to someone, conservative or liberal, it is usually the defense reaction by everyone that really blows the situation up. Again, we should look at the situation from both sides before speaking when our emotions are running so high.
    I do think it was a loaded question posed to him. The interviewer knew he would either refuse to answer to avoid controversy or answer honestly as to what his beliefs are. It was a no win situation in my opinion. As far Bible passages go, everyone has their own interpretation of what they mean. Even Biblical scholars can not agree on what certain verses are saying. I think we will all be judged when we die and none of us are perfect or without sin. It’s not our job to judge.
    I’m done with topic now. Take care of yourself. Peace and love to all.

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