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Robertson’s comments do not create a First Amendment crisis


Dec. 24, 2013
By G. Michael Dobbs

news@thereminder.com

Let me be clear: I support Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s right to say whatever he chooses.

I just don’t agree with anything he says and if people react poorly to his remarks, they are also practicing their right to free speech.

Robertson was interviewed by GQ and said, “Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. 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.”

He also made the observation that he had never heard an African-American complain about racial prejudice when he was growing up in the Deep South and claimed they were “happy.”

Right.

Now in my book, sexual orientation is not a sin. It’s part of a person’s life, their composition. It’s like the color of their hair – a personal characteristic. But for Robertson, it is a sin to be equated to actions that are harmful to people.

Now we could argue the Bible all day but if you really think if someone is gay they are the moral equivalent to “the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers” then you and I would have a contentious discussion on our hands.

Of course, one could also point out that the remarks made by a reality TV “star” should be taken with a grain of salt. The problem is Robertson is a prominent part of a show that has generated millions of viewers and millions of dollars.

I will admit I’m not a fan of the show. It seems way too staged and scripted to be “reality.” A multi-million dollar manufacturing firm is being run by wacky self-described rednecks always looking for an excuse to go fishing or hunting – really?

After the duck poop hit the fan and A&E said that he was indefinitely suspended from the program, Robertson released this statement: “I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock [‘n’] 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.”

Nice back peddling, dude. How about saying, “I am a misinformed duck call manufacturer who said something that is just wrong and I’m sorry.” Notice there was no apology.

Naturally, there are people who are defending Robertson and saying the criticism of his statements is an attack on freedom of speech. The Right’s pin-up girl, Sarah Palin, wrote on Facebook, “Free speech is an endangered species. Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”

By the way, the noun “intolerants” is yet another of Palin’s creative uses of the English language.

All of whom, Ms. Palin? People who profess to be “Christian” but who are happy to say hateful, misinformed statements? “Christians” with a sack of stones and who are willing to throw the first one? Washed-up politicians still seeking fame?

Just how has anyone prevented Robertson from saying what he wants to say? One could easily argue he now has a bigger platform for his religious remarks as I’m sure many right-wing radio hosts would love ot have him on their shows.

I would never recommend censoring anyone no matter what they say. I’ve printed many letters in these newspapers with which I fundamentally disagree because that is my responsibility as a journalist in a democratic society.

If a “celebrity” talks trash though, I’m not honor-bound to support them by buying their products or by staying a fan of their work. I don’t have to agree with them and I don’t have to financially support them.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.



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