Phil Robertson has the Same Rights as You
I recently wrote an article about Phil Robertson’s suspension from Duck Dynasty. To summarize the article, Phil, as the patriarch of the family, was suspended by A&E from the show because he made a comment that was not in favor of homosexuality in an interview with GQ magazine in their January issue. Immediately after the issue was published, an uprising of commotion grew on social media and on broadcast programs.
The article I previously wrote gives only the facts about the situation, as I carefully intended. However, I do have a strong opinion on the matter, which I thought to separately express.
Being an avid Duck Dynasty fan, I was very disappointed when I heard the news. Phil is one of my favorites of the Robertson clan. I have always admired his commanding presence and his calm demeanor. As I was researching his interview, I read his comment, and I will admit that I was a bit shocked at how gutsy it was. There are certain things that you do need to be careful about when expressing them to the public. However, I do not believe he violated anything by expressing his religious beliefs.
Phil comes from a very conservative, God-fearing family that was thrust into the limelight. A&E knew this when they were first approached with the idea of featuring the Robertsons in a reality television show. The genre of the show itself is called “reality.” If A&E is not able to handle some of its biggest stars having an unpopular opinion, they should not have done the show in the first place.
It was Phil’s First Amendment right to express his religious views. Nowhere in the First Amendment does it say that a person’s views need to be popular or favorable to everyone, nor does it say that you cannot express your opinion if it is to a large audience. We all hear or read other people’s opinions regularly that may or may not offend us. That does not mean that they should be punished. It does mean that we need to grow a backbone and let them practice their human right to have an opinion. Did A&E have the right to suspend Phil? Yes, they did. However, I cannot agree that their action to suspend him was morally sound. I do have an issue with the media respecting the left’s right to have their own opinion and beliefs, but nobody else’s.
The argument has been made that Phil should have been sensitive to the fact that he is in the limelight, and his private opinions should be kept private. While I can understand where those who express this opinion are coming from, they need to understand that Phil’s private life has already been on screen for the whole world to see. As soon as he was made a reality television star, his private opinions naturally became everybody’s business. That is how the media works these days.
One of the biggest parts of Phil’s life, besides his family, is his religious beliefs. It is a well-known fact that the Bible lists homosexuality as a sin. That this is listed in the Bible is not a prejudice or a political statement, but a fact. All Christian religions believe in the Bible, to one extent or another. Everybody who watches Duck Dynasty knows the Robertsons are devout Christians. Christianity believes homosexuality is a sin, but the sinner is not necessarily a bad person. Christianity also preaches to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Our world today has been conditioned to jump and scoff at the first sign of “prejudice,” without first understanding what the person in question is really saying.
If this television show featured a liberal family, their personal views would have been spewed across the screen and praised by the media. However, because this family represents and expresses traditional values, and because they represent the silent majority of America that stays out of the limelight, they are harshly punished.
Phil should have been more careful about what he is saying, being mindful of his audience. However, he was not wrong in the principle of expressing his opinion. He did not preach hate to all homosexuals. He did not say death to all homosexuals. He did not attack anybody, nor did he ever intend to.
This is not about gay rights. When it comes down to the bare bones of the matter, this issue actually has nothing to do with gay rights. This whole predicament does have everything to do with a man and his right to express his religious beliefs without being punished for it by society, as well as the dire need for society to grow thicker skin and face the reality that not everybody is going to share your same beliefs. Whether you agree with him, whether I agree with him, or whether your neighbor agrees with him does not make Phil’s First Amendment right any less valid.
Conservatives have to take punches every single time they tune into on their TV’s. Liberals should be able to do the same. Not everybody will have the same opinion as you or agree with your lifestyle. Just like Phil had every right to express his religious belief, you can agree to disagree, and civilly continue standing for your own beliefs.