The Times West Virginian

December 29, 2013

Phil Robertson ‘has the right to speak his mind’


Times West Virginian

— On Friday, all became right with the world again.

Or at least between the Robertson family and the television network A&E and the millions of fans of the hit reality show “Duck Dynasty.”

On Friday, A&E released the following statement: “After discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming ‘Duck Dynasty’ later this spring with the entire Robertson family.”

This all came about when the star of the series and Robertson family patriarch said some things in an interview with GQ Magazine that many believed were racist and homophobic.

As far as homosexuality, Phil Robertson said that it seemed to him that a man should be much more attracted to having sex with a woman as opposed to a man.

“That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer,” Robertson is quoted in the article. “I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine,” he added. “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.”

In the same interview, Robertson ruffled some feathers within the black community by denying ever seeing mistreatment of blacks in Louisiana prior to the civil rights movement.

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person,” Robertson told the GQ reporter. “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. 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! ... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

When the magazine hit newsstands, the controversy began. In reaction to pressure from civil rights groups and the gay community, A&E announced that Robertson was indefinitely suspended from the series. Other Robertson family members who also appear in the show told reporters they did not see “Duck Dynasty” having any future without Phil.

But the future is looking bright for the average 13.5 million viewers of the A&E series and for the Robertson family, which is worth about $400 million — about half from merchandising opportunities from the “Duck Dynasty” show.

And while the A&E announcement of the lift of Phil’s suspension suggests that there will be public service announcements that air on all stations affiliated with A&E (it is part of the Disney-ABC Television Group), Phil will not bend on the things that he said. He insists that he will not apologize for quoting scripture, as his statements were paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

One Times West Virginian online reader, Thelma, showed her support for the Robertson clan.

“They have walked all over Phil’s First Amendment rights. He has the right to speak his mind and his heart. God bless you, Phil,” Thelma wrote online.

The show goes on. It must. It’s probably going to be a whole heck of a lot more popular after this controversy, too.

And speaking of controversy, we wanted to know just what our readers had to say about the “Duck” debate. Last week, we asked them on our online poll question, which can be found each week at www.timeswv.com. The question was: Phil Robertson was indefinitely suspended from the hit TV show “Duck Dynasty” for comments he made about homosexuality to GQ Magazine. What are your thoughts?

And here’s what you had to say:

• The article sensationalized statements and was intended to make him look foolish — 4.29 percent

• This will all blow over. “Duck Dynasty” is too valuable of a franchise to let go — 7.14 percent

• He has a right to say what he wants, but A&E has the right to let him go — 32.86 percent

• This is a violation of his First Amendment right and an attack of his Christian values — 55.71 percent

So, it appears as if 2014 will be a happy, happy, happy new year for A&E, the Robertsons and their viewers. Oh, and speaking of 2014, let’s talk about your hopes and expectations for the new year this week.

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond directly online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor

mpoe@timeswv.com

@MistyPoeTWV