Last month, I was in New York City to visit my Dad for the Thanksgiving weekend. On Thanksgiving morning, my father and I attended the Macy’s Day Parade. The parade begins on the Upper West Side making its way down Central Park West.
The Upper West Side is arguably the most liberal neighborhood in New York City. And yet, aside from Santa Claus, the loudest cheer during the entire procession was for the flotilla containing the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame. Duck Dynasty has permeated our public consciousness in such a way that even those who don’t watch the show are familiar with the beards, their business and the values behind them. This consciousness has been favorably disposed to the Robertson family including the Upper West Side. However, I am certain that disposition has changed in light of Phil Robertson’s interview with GQ.
To begin with, it is no surprise that conservatives are by and large defending Phil Robertson. After all, a majority of conservatives share Robertson’s distaste for homosexuality. But please don’t tell me that this is about religious liberty or freedom of speech. If Robertson, an Evangelical Protestant, had directed his ire towards Catholics somehow I don’t think conservatives would be so eager to defend Robertson’s religious liberty or his First Amendment rights.
While it is true that Robertson was paraphrasing Corinthians, Paul the Apostle never proclaimed that a woman’s vagina was more desirable than a man’s anus. If you believe that homosexuality is a sin then it follows that while you hate the sin, you love the sinner. Unfortunately, I see great deal of the former but precious little of the latter. In a 2010 speech to a church in Pennsylvania (which has been posted to YouTube) before the debut of Duck Dynasty, Robertson said this about homosexuals:
They are insolent, arrogant, God haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are senseless. They are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.
Now I am aware that Robertson subsequently issued a statement following the interview claiming “he would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me,” and that he “loves all of humanity.” Yet a man who truly loves humanity does not speak ill of his fellow man. A man who truly loves humanity would not accuse others of inventing ways of doing evil. A man who truly loves humanity wouldn’t make a point of saying homosexuals aren’t going to heaven. That isn’t his call to make. There is a God and Phil Robertson is not Him.
Although Ben Brophy has defended Robertson he did acknowledge his statements concerning blacks are “less defensible.” Robertson is fortunate to have never witnessed racism during his formative years in Louisiana, but it is a reach for him to presume that blacks were happier before the Civil Rights Act or, as he put it, “pre-entitlement.”
Despite this, A&E’s suspension of Robertson will most likely backfire. Blood is thicker than water and money. If one Robertson is suspended then all the Robertsons are suspended. The business relationship between the Robertsons and A&E has been effectively dissolved. A critical mass in this country cannot get enough of Duck Dynasty and as long as that is the case there will be a network eager to cater to that demand. In which case, the Robertson family might very well be back at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade next year. However, the cheers might not be quite as loud.
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