A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about the façade associated with Duck Dynasty and why I’m not a fan. Now, after a few short days, the show has blown up into an entire political statement. Sarah Palin even offered an incoherent defense of Duck Dynasty which, if we’re being honest with ourselves, didn’t make any sense at all. But Duck Dynasty fans and conservative crusaders abound latched onto the idea that this was somehow a grave violation of free speech. “They’re telling us what to think,” everyone shouted, especially on my Facebook, where everyone seems qualified to have an expert opinion.
Maybe I’m a little confused about how free speech works; I suppose I can blame that on public schooling. But I was under the impression that if you worked for a company and you said something that could potentially damage said entity, you were at their disposal. If a company is writing you checks—giant checks—you just can’t say things that are going to lose the network sponsors. If Phil Robertson has a moral issues clause in his contract, A&E could just dump him today. If Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, etc. want to make it a political statement, that’s fine. But either they’re disillusioned and missing the whole point or they just need something to talk about. I’m going to guess a bit of both.
Due to the hullabaloo surrounding the gay marriage comments, most of us missed the other inane parts of the interview. There was the part when Phil said “no one was singing the blues” when asked about blacks in Pre-Civil-Rights Louisiana. He spoke of how the worst societies all had ungodliness to blame, but neglected to touch on the wars fought over godliness and the devastating bloodshed of the Crusades. There’s a flaw in that logic. And there’s also a flaw in telling certain people they “won’t inherit the kingdom of God.” That sounds like a harsh and defined judgment to me, and we all know what the Bible has to say about judging.
I had a Theology professor and minister once say he didn’t care what God anyone believed in as long as it made them a better person. You can worship whatever you want if it makes you get up in the morning and want to do both good and well. And while I’m not going to go so far as to say that the Robertsons are bad people—in fact they seem upstanding and their faith has obviously been profoundly beneficial—I would challenge them to see which Levitical laws they also violate before they bestow upon others the title of “unfit for the Eternal Kingdom.”
As for the show itself, I steadfastly believe Phil Robertson will make his return. Television is all about money and A&E just wants to cover their backsides until this blows over so they don’t lose sponsorships. When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut, he effectively lost 45 sponsors, A&E is conscious of this and other situations in that vein.
Duck Dynasty fans are promising to view in record numbers once Phil makes his return, so doesn’t that align perfectly for A&E? Pull the guy, show him that he is contractually obligated to you, and at the same time, keep your big wig sponsors. Bring him back and get record numbers. Even though Robertson’s interview sparked myriad debates, the big issue isn’t faith, it isn’t gay marriage, and it isn’t racism. It’s money, and that aligns perfectly for A&E.