Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Thoughts on the Duck Dynasty Uproar

So A&E has suspended Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson for bashing gays in a recent article in GQ.  I won't quote the whole thing, but he likened homosexuality to sex with animals and adultery and said he just doesn't get why a man's "anus" is more alluring than a woman's vagina.

He also talked about how all the black people he knew in the South prior to "welfare and entitlement" were "godly" and "happy" and he never saw any of them treated badly.

Now we can debate about whether A&E should have suspended him (after all, what did they expect from such a person?).  Supporters, of course, are talking about free speech and what not.  But free speech has nothing to do with it.  He's not being jailed for what he said.  And I'm sure that there is probably language in his contract with A&E that gives them the right to suspend him from the show if he does or says things that reflect poorly on A&E.  The same way that you'll probably get in trouble if you say or do things that reflect poorly on your place of employment.

An evangelical Christian on Facebook likened this "censorship" of Phil Robertson to the silliness of people's reaction in the 1960's to the Beatles and Elvis.  Which I find odd since it was evangelical Christians who wanted to censor the Beatles and Elvis.  But anyway,  no one is "censoring," or even calling for the censorship, of Phil Robertson - as evangelical Christians did with the Beatles and Elvis. Being suspended from your reality show for making offensive comments in national media is not "censorship."  No one is burning Duck Dynasty DVD's.

Furthermore, how do you suppose, for instance, that TBN (an evangelical Christian network) would respond if one of their employees made comments in national media that were offensive to an enormous swath of TBN's viewership and not in keeping with TBN's own views? Keep them on the air?  Or suspend, or even fire, them?  I think we all know the answer.  

But what really annoys me is how so many of Robertson's supporters are acting like he's being persecuted or treated unfairly because of his views.  A friend of mine (who will likely read this post) referred today to Mark 13:13 in regards to this issue.  That verse has Jesus "predicting" that people will persecute (actually, it says "hate") future Christians because they follow Jesus.

Let me be very clear here: Phil Robertson has not gotten in trouble because he's a Christian or Christ-follower.  He's gotten in trouble because he's an unapologetic bigot.

Being an unapologetic bigot against gays is not part of what it means to be a Christian.  In fact, it's decidedly un-Christian in every sense of the word.

And I could care less what anyone thinks Paul said about homosexuality in 1 Corinthians or 1 Timothy or Romans.  After all, Paul also said, in Ephesians: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up."  Why are no evangelical Christians condemning Robertson for tearing people down with hurtful words, likening their human relationships to illicit sex with animals?

I don't like Duck Dynasty.  It's amusing at times, but it's heavily staged and scripted and I'm not much a reality TV fan anyway.  Be that as it may, I couldn't care less what the stars of the show believe or think or do or say.  They have become heroes to evangelical Christians and that's totally fine with me.  Everybody needs their heroes.  It wouldn't have bothered me if A&E had not suspended Phil Robertson for what he said.  As I said above, what, exactly, do they expect from such a person?

But please don't act like these people represent Christianity, or all Christians, or act like Robertson's punishment is equal to censorship or persecution of Christians.  That's just nonsense.


Julie Mendelsohn said...


Anonymous said...

Your intolerance is amusing. Bigot yourself much?

Scott said...

You're damn right I'm intolerant. I don't tolerate bigotry. And your circular argument suggesting that not tolerating bigotry makes you a bigot is ridiculous.

The word "tolerance," in my opinion, gets thrown around way too much. There are many, many notions, beliefs, and ideas that do not deserve respect or tolerance. Homosexual bigotry is one. That doesn't mean such people should be ostracized or shunned or treated like second class people. But it does mean that their views should be condemned.

And condemning someone because they espouse harmful and hurtful views might make you confrontational or opinionated, but it does not make you bigoted.

Anonymous said...

"And condemning someone because they espouse harmful and hurtful views might make you confrontational or opinionated, but it does not make you bigoted."

But that's exactly what Duck would say he was doing. You should know that. He would also have a very large majority of Christians agreeing with him as they point either to scripture, or interpretations of scripture given to them by tradition. The Catholic Church still has it, as dogma I believe, that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. You may think of this with a modern perspective and condemn it, and I'm sure many of the people that hold that view don't hold it very charitably, but nonetheless they believe, just as you, that practicing homosexuals are not 'saved'.

Anonymous said...

"but nonetheless they believe, just as you, that practicing homosexuals are not 'saved'."

That should read:

they believe just like you, that they are acting morally.

Scott said...

I understand your argument, Anonymous. I agree that such people are acting in good faith - in other words, they believe they are doing the right thing by condemning homosexuality.

I disagree with you, however, that "a very large majority" of Christians agree with him. In 2013, Gallup found that 60% of Americans think homosexual relationship are "morally acceptable." That's about the same as American views of the moral acceptability of sex outside of marriage, and slightly higher than experimenting on animals. Over 50%, by the way, think gay marriage should be legal.

Additionally, according to Pew Research, almost 80% of Americans self-identify as Christians.

According to poll numbers aggregated on Wikipedia, 61% of Catholics, and 37% of protestants think gay marriage should be legal.

You can do the math there and figure out that it's simply false to suggest that a very large majority of Christians would support the Duck Dynasty guy - or even his general views of the immorality of homosexuality.

I believe you may be confusing "evangelical Christians" with "Christians." According to Pew Research, only 26% of Christians are affiliated with an evangelical church.

I would also argue that there are much kinder, more inclusive ways of expressing his views than what he said. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my post...I consider him bigoted because of the crude and offensive way he expressed his views, not simply because he condemned homosexuality. I think he's just backward and hypocritical for doing that.