December 19, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
A&E Ducks Free Speech
“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” – attributed to Voltaire
A&E Ducks Free SpeechCommentary by Sanford D. Horn
December 19, 2013
Until the recent kerfuffle regarding a magazine interview, I have not seen a single episode of Duck Dynasty and in fact, had never heard of Phil Robertson, patriarch of his TV family. Now his right of free speech has been stifled.
While I still have no interest in watching an episode of this program, I am however, supportive of Mr. Robertson’s First Amendment right of free speech and expression.
Robertson was suspended from the A&E television phenomena for what the gay and lesbian community claims were offensive and derisive remarks about homosexuals in an interview with GQ magazine – not even remarks made on the television network itself.
Robertson said homosexuality is a sin in accordance with his Christian beliefs. Robertson went on to say "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 G-d. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right," as written in GQ.
Agree or disagree with Robertson, that isn’t the issue. The issue is his fundamental, Constitutional right to say what he wishes. He did not call for the stoning or death of homosexuals. He didn’t even say they should be deprived of their rights or citizenship. Robertson simply expressed what millions of people feel regarding the appropriateness of the homosexual lifestyle. Even more volatile speech is and should be protected so long as it does not incite criminal behavior.
The homosexual community, much like a well-heeled lobbying group, is a strong minority, but that’s what needs to remembered – they are a small minority, numbering less than 10 percent of the population. Yet, the homosexual community commands such fear and intimidation that they forced A&E to suspend Robertson from the program because they did not like or approve of his comments made in an entirely different media venue.
The homosexual community threatens and cajoles media and corporate leaders to cave in to their demands for fear of boycotts. The supporters of Robertson and Duck Dynasty should do likewise – threaten a counter boycott if Robertson is not returned to his place on the program.
Free speech is just that and while we may not always agree with what people say, we still fight for their right to say it, to paraphrase Voltaire. If the homosexual community gets its way and silence Robertson and others who share his religious and cultural beliefs, who will be threatened next? Who next will be denied their rights? If members of the homosexual community, or anyone else for that matter, do not like or agree with Robertson’s words, don’t watch his program. Change the channel. I don’t like the theme of a program such as Modern Family, I don’t demand ABC remove it from its roster, I change the channel.
There is power in numbers and popular television programs generate revenue for the network on which they appear. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is still on the books and is valid – protecting Americans, not putting them on the unemployment line.
A&E exhibited a double standard by denying Robertson his right of free speech in accordance with the Constitution. Where is the tolerance and diversity supported by A&E – or is that only reserved for those with whom they agree? Apparently Christians, conservatives, and/or religious people are excluded from this support.
Contact A&E to express your outrage at firstname.lastname@example.org, 235 E. 45th Street, New York, NY 10017, 212-210-1400.
I fully agree with Sarah Palin’s Facebook comment: “Free speech is an endangered species.” The answer to speech people find objectionable is not less, but more speech.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.