Patriarch off 'Duck Dynasty' after gay comments

Phil Robertson suspended indefinitely.
Associated Press
Dec 19, 2013

"Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson — suspended from the series indefinitely after making disparaging remarks about gays — is getting some support from key followers.

Sarah Palin posted a picture on her Facebook page of her with the reality show clan with the message, "Free Speech is an endangered species." And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also lamented the suspension on free speech terms.

"It's a messed-up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended," said the governor in a statement Thursday (the show is filmed in his state.

A&E announced Wednesday what it called a "hiatus" for Robertson, 67, after he disparaged gays in the January edition of GQ magazine. He also said that, growing up in Louisiana before the Civil Rights movement, he never saw mistreatment of blacks.

In a statement, A&E said it was extremely disappointed to see Robertson's anti-gay remarks, which it said were based on his personal beliefs and do not reflect those of A&E Networks or the show. A&E Networks, a joint venture of The Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., called itself a supporter of the lesbian and gay community.

The channel's move was lauded by the gay and lesbian media advocacy group GLAAD, which had quickly condemned Robertson's comments.

"What's clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike," said GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz. Robertson's removal "has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value."

Robertson and his extended family became wealthy manufacturing duck calls and were turned into TV and pop culture stars by "Duck Dynasty," which has set cable ratings records for a non-fiction series. Several family members appeared in this year's Macy's Thanksgiving parade.

In his GQ interview, Robertson was asked his definition of sinful behavior.

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," such as bestiality, he said.

GQ said he then paraphrases a biblical reference: "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 and his family had no comment on his hiatus, A&E said on their behalf. He may be in some previously taped scenes when the show returns Jan. 15 for its fifth season, a network spokesman said.

Robertson did respond to initial criticism of his GQ remarks.

"I myself am a product of the '60s" who indulged in sex and drugs until hitting bottom and accepting Jesus as his savior, he said in a statement. Although his mission is to teach people that men and women are meant to be together, Robertson said he "would never treat anyone with disrespect" because they are different.

In the interview, he also said that in his Louisiana youth he picked cotton with African-Americans and never saw "the mistreatment of any black person. Not once."

"We're going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' — not a word!" Robertson told the magazine.

A&E said it had received no complaints about those remarks.

 

Comments

Nemesis

Guess again.

First of all, A&E does not use the public airwaves. It's a CABLE network that sells content to PRIVATE TV providers.

Second, he's NOT an employee. At best, he's a contractor. Third, BECAUSE of the First Amendment, those producing content in the media enjoy broad leeway in production decisions such as casting. Furthermore, ALL employment discrimination laws are subject to exceptions for bona fide occupational qualifications. You can't force a producer to cast an Asian as Hamlet, or a woman as Al Capone.

White Owl

OK, you're correct on the cable aspect. However, he likely has an employment contract, so he is an employee. Even if he is an independent contractor, it is illegal to enter into contracts that e violate the law.

Nemesis

No, he doesn't have an EMPLOYMENT contract. He has a contract whereby he sells access to his personal life. An author doesn't have an employment contract with a publisher, either.

However, none of that matters. Even if he WERE an employee, they'd be within their rights on multiple grounds. If an employee's CONDUCT publicly damages A&E's business, brand, or the value of their intellectual property, they can fire that employee, and he doesn't get to turn it into religious discrimination by saying that his religion made him do it. As a member of the media, they have a First Amendment right to control the content of their broadcasts, including excluding controversial people from said content. Soap operas have prevailed in cases over firing actesses who got pregnant because their condition was incompatible with the story line. If they're casting a movie role of a white historical figure, they can specify that only whites can audition.

Employment discrimination law is not as simple as you seem to believe.

John Harville

Sullivan v New York Times. He is a 'public figure' and as such has no protection from action for his comments, words or actions.
A&E is a public not-for-profit corporation that receives public funds and therefore is bound by all regulations... however, A&E is NOT an arm of the Federal Government and therefore is not restrained by the First Amendments proscription of 'CONGRESS'.
Who would know of Phil's comments if not for his very public persona on television.

And what about the PR consultant fired on her way to South Africa for her comments about AIDS and being white? Does she have freedom of speech?

Nemesis

-Sullivan is not applicable - it deals with public figures' privacy, not employment rights.

-A&E is a for-profit joint venture owned by Hearst Publishing and Disney, and they do not receive public funds. You are thinking of PBS.

On the other hand, you're on the right track with the comparison to the PR person. I guess that counts as an improvement.

John Harville

Really, Bherrie? Nobody has kept him from answering the question. But does he get carte blanche just because he's some sort of hell-raisin' 60 guy who - by his own statement - banged any woman walking, drank and smoked heavily, enjoyed weed and other drugs. Then he 'found Jesus' after he 'hit rock bottom' Bully! Has he apologized to all those women? WWJD?

pntbutterandjelly

I wrote this before and I'll say it again, Mr. Duck gives Christianity a bad name." Your so-called "forefathers" (who..oh by the way...owned slaves, despised the Irish among many other nationalities and abused the Native Americans amongst many others)are far less important that than the very basic teachings of our Lord.

badboy

The latest professional "outrage groups" are having a field day with this.

Unassumer

Well, at least they got Brian back on Family Guy!

John Harville

Martin Bashir was forced to resign because the "Sarah Palin Outrage Groups" had a field day... same with Keith Olberman because Billow the Clown got all outraged and his sheeple wrote letters.
the difference with Phil.... A&E is an entertainment/family network and children/teens what him and take his example.

bondgirlM

I find it funny that "tolerance" means say what the minority wants to hear. When is the minority going to get around to tolerating others? They have the right to believe what they want and they can state it just like "Uncle Phil" has. That's what the 1st Amendment is all about. It means we ALL have the right to say what we want as long as your are not threatening the well being of anyone.

Bherrle

^^^ - What she said. Totally agree.

JMOP

Exactly

Dr. Information

yup

The Bizness

The government is doing nothing to this guy, he has every right to say what he wants to say, but he has to accept the consequences for what he said. A&E has their own right to suspend him.

Also the majority of people actually disagree with him (52% back legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states), not the minority like you state.

Nemesis

Majority or not, they are hypocrites. They have no tolerance for diversity of opinion.

Camille Paglia (who is openly gay) said it better than I can:

“To express yourself in a magazine in an interview — this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, OK, that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades,” Paglia said. “This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960’s that have been lost by my own party.

“I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility,” Paglia said. “This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points.”

John Harville

Wait a minute BndgirlM.... you just put an "as long as" stipulation on the First Amendment.

How do you get to do that?

If the counter guy at McDuckDynasty cusses at a customer or even raises the voice - does the Manager/Owner not have the right to discipline or terminate the employee? The actions certainly threaten the well-being of the customer and the company.

pntbutterandjelly

Oh MY GOD! Please...define "threatening the well being of others"? Words of intolerance and hate DO threaten the well being of others at so many different levels that you obviously don't understand.

John Harville

and bondgirlM gives us an 'exception' to the First Amendment.

Almost like yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

2cents

This situation like many others just shows you how wrapped up a large percentage of people are. Really, this guy has an opinion, probably the same opinion he has had since his youth. You praise these TV people until you do not like something they say or do that takes them off your little pedestal you have placed them on. I say get a life, if you watch TV for anything other than entertainment you have a problem!

How about the football gang banger they turned into a star, oops, he still likes to murder, what no background check for super star football players either!

pntbutterandjelly

2cents>>>you are correct! They all (including Mr. Duck) need to be driven out of society or....re-educated.

John Harville

"sinice his youth' 2cents? He claims he was a hellraiser in the 60s and 70s (born in 1946 he's 67), screwed any vaginal opening that smelled okay, drank heavily, used drugs, avoided the War, and generally destroyed himself and others before he 'found Jesus'. He hasn't read the Bible - only picked (or was given) phrases that suited his opinions (got the Leviticus part about 'lying with a man' but missed the part about 'don't tattoo your body'.

kURTje

Yeah....a lot like Hu*tler Magazine & Larry Fl*nt. Don't like it don't buy it.

The New World Czar

It's OK for Mylie Cyrus to simulate sex on the air in the name of shock and ratings...and he gets suspended for what? This is a true measurement of how our society and media have lost their way.

pntbutterandjelly

What has been lost is our innocence. The tabloid mentality has now permeated our TV stations to such a magnitude that it is nearly impossible to find anything to watch that is either intelligent, truly constructive or informative with OUT running into political rantings and ravings or...without volumes of boneheads professing to hold some enlightened viewpoint of what is correct. Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! (get a life, open your minds and do something creative for yourself and our society. Like...read a book about how Adolph Hitler divided his countymen with repeated bashings of those he too felt were not worthy (read, Jews, Gypsies, Poles, et. al.) ONLY to cause his country's total demise with WW2.Division and bigotry is NOT a recipe for success. (Unless your name is Adolph)

John Harville

Czar... where did you get the idea Miley Cyrus' actions were okay?

Pterocarya frax...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Read that and tell me how this is a first amendment case. The amendment is all about the government not being able to tell us what we can and cannot say. Is A&E the government?

If you were to invite me into your home and I start saying things about your hero Ted Cruz that you don't like, then you have every right to order me to leave. That is absolutely no different than what A&E has done here.

Bherrle

True, I agree with your point. My point is that I am offended that A&E chose to censor him (from it's network), rather than having the stones to stand behind a belief this country was founded on.

Nemesis

Exactly. They haven't violated the Constitution, but they've run roughshod over their own intellectual integrity. That's legal, but contemptible.

John Harville

Bherrie. Please elucidate for us how A&# censored Phil.

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