Folks have been wondering when I would comment on the Duck Dynasty issue. So here it is.
First off, we must establish that legally both Phil Robertson and A&E did nothing wrong. Phil exercised his right to free speech, A&E exercised their right to do business with whom they will. But that’s not the central issue. People are up in arms about the morality of the situation and whether or not Mr. Robertson’s statements were homophobic.
Let’s define the term “homophobic.” Literally, it means being afraid of gay people or gayness in general. Nothing Mr. Robertson said indicates he is afraid of them. He said “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus.” Indeed, a gay man may say the reverse and be somewhat puzzled as to why his heterosexual compatriots are so attracted to female parts. So far, Mr. Robertson is only guilty of stating in a somewhat crude and direct manner that he prefers lady parts. There is nothing homophobic in that. Obviously he is not a fan of having sex with men, but there is no wrong in that view.
He was also accused of racism for saying this: “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash.” Once again, I see nothing racist in this. In fact, he was saying that because he was poor, he was right in the thick of things with poor black folk and wasn’t really treated much better. Once again, all he is guilty of in this juncture is being direct with his language — we should expect no less from a backwoods hunting man.
Finally, he was accused of comparing homosexuality to beastiality. I really had to dig for the original quote. Ironically, I found a similar comment dated to 2010. Although, the comparison is more a case of “these are things I don’t like to do.” Well, good. I don’t like to do those things either, but Mr. Robertson’s direct language doesn’t do him any favors with the media here.
And that is the big moral issue here. Phil Robertson appears to be a direct, bible-thumping backwoods sort of guy. A&E knew exactly what they were getting with this man. And that’s where my real issue lies. A&E has a right to act the way they are doing, but it’s also kind of childish. If they were truly concerned about potential racism and homophobia, they shouldn’t have done the show in the first place. After all, it’s not like this was some kind of closely-guarded secret.
What A&E did was make money off the show for as long as possible, until something stirred up anger in the gay community. Then they bailed on him. So while yes, Mr. Robertson’s language and abrupt comparisons leave something to be desired, and it’s even possible to suggest that the gay community has a point when they say this man shouldn’t be on television (although that is a topic definitely up for debate)… all this event really does is expose A&E as the money-grubbing, hypocritical assholes they are. Either they are accepting of Mr. Robertson and his views, in which case they should defend him or at least not bow out, or they are NOT, in which case he never should have been on their network to begin with.
Period. End of Story.