Why Suspending Phil Robertson Will Backfire

Trevin Wax
Trevin Wax

duck-dynasty-phil-robertson-miss-kay-giSo, Phil Robertson is suspended “indefinitely”from Duck Dynasty, apparently because he believes homosexuality is a sin and that people should repent of it. You know, the way he himself repented of his sexual past. Quote:

I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, 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.

Dan Quayle learned the hard way that you don’t make a point by going after a TV character. His point about glorifying single motherhood was lost in the uproar over his criticism of Murphy Brown. Why? Because Americans loved Murphy Brown.

Fast forward two decades and you have the Duck Dynasty rednecks from Louisiana. And Americans love the Robertsons.

This time, it’s not a sitcom, but a reality show that has millions of viewers. But some higher-ups are upset that the reality show is a little too real.

No Heretics Allowed

Every now and then, you hear about Christianity’s tainted past: the banning of books, the suppression of free speech, and the burning of heretics.

Nowadays, Christians are the cultural heretics. If you believe what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, your public platform may be in danger. No matter that Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, and every imam in Turkey believes the same thing. We’re for free speech, until it offends someone. Then we pull the plug.

It’s a bizarre sort of reverse McCarthyism: “Do you now or have you ever thought homosexuality was a sin?”

Who’s next? Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar?

just read yesterday about Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to start a website that would feature news and views from all over the political spectrum:

At a dinner for columnists at the Palm, the mayor promised not to censor anyone, assuring them that they could, within limits—one of which was advocating against a woman’s right to choose—write whatever they wanted.

So, apparently, a writer can say anything without fear of censorship. Just not the heretical belief that it’s mean to dismember and extract unborn humans from their mother’s wombs. Pro-lifers need not apply.

Live and Let Live?

Recent polls show that half of Americans are now supportive of gay marriage. I suspect that two-thirds of that number are Libertarian-minded people, like the guy I talked to a few weeks ago who told me, “I don’t care who gets married to whom. Live and let live. As long as they don’t push their views on me or my family.”

That’s a simplistic analysis of the debate over marriage in our society, but it’s popular. There are plenty of people who feel the same way about any number of cultural issues. “Just leave people alone.”

That’s why I believe the Duck Dynasty suspension will backfire, and Phil’s days on the show aren’t over for good. You can’t claim the right of free speech for the obscenities of Bill Maher and then try to shut down conversation in Louisiana.

Disagree with Phil Robertson all you want. Take to blogs. Change the channel. But firing a lovable “heretic” is not the way to go in a society that promotes free speech.

Originally published December 19, 2013.

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