4 Reasons Why the Duck Dynasty Brouhaha Matters
You Can't Rage Quit the Culture Wars
Between Miley Cyrus, Barbara Walters, the Kardashians and countless other products the networks and their conglomerate owners are serving us, it's tempting and even rational to just pull the plug. Check out. Rage quit the culture wars.
I'm sympathetic to that point of view myself. Nearly everyday it occurs to me that I am paying money to people who hate me and everything I stand for to pipe digital sewage into my home. Duck Dynasty is probably the only entertainment show on cable that doesn't fit that description. It doesn't depict Americans as foul-mouthed fools who bicker and fight among themselves all the time. It shows a family running a business together, which is built on their own inventions and hard work. It shows a part of America that the coastal elites like to believe doesn't exist. It shows Christians having a good time. It shows men and women married to each other and raising their families. No one is sleeping around. No one is celebrated for their ability to fool or defraud someone else. It's one of the few shows that doesn't go out of its way to create embarrassing situations for parents, and which doesn't overtly promote promiscuity, self-absorption and other destructive behavior. It's not real -- no reality show is fully real -- but it's about as real as reality TV gets.
It's tempting to write off everything but Duck Dynasty. But we can't just up and quit. If we do, we are surrendering ground in the culture wars that will end up costing us ground in politics and, ultimately, our country.
Many of Duck Dynasty's 14 million viewers are apolitical and are not engaged in the cultural or political battles that motivate us here. They watch the show because it's hilarious, and because it's good. It's a throwback to family entertainment when the networks tried to produce such a thing. Robertson's suspension may be their first contact with the intolerant left and the dishonest media that is reporting, as CNN's Erin Burnett is, that he "compared homosexuality to beastiality." He didn't. CNN knows that. CNN knows it is propagating something that is not true, but is useful. If we unplug and have no idea what is going on in the culture, we cannot push back, correct the lies, and give apolitical America another point of view.
If you're out of the game, you're out of the game.
The other side will never quit. Ever.
What Will the Courts Say?
As a self-made and confident multimillionaire who understand the purpose behind his fame, Phil Robertson doesn't need Duck Dynasty or A&E. As one channel in a vast empire made mostly impervious to any particular show's collapse due to channel bundling, A&E may not need Phil Robertson. But the courts may need to rule on where tolerance begins and ends. In recent rulings, courts have found that Christian photographers and cake bakers cannot turn down gay weddings for any reason. But A&E can suspend Robertson, effectively turning him down for doing business with the network. The photographers, cake bakers and A&E have weighed in on the culture wars -- essentially on the same side, though they're taking opposite positions on the issue at hand. The photographers, bakers and A&E assert the right to decline to do business with someone over their personal beliefs. I happen to believe that they all do have that right, but courts have ruled that the photographers and bakers do not.
Who is right?
Perhaps Phil Robertson should sue A&E. He has the money to hire the best legal representation available. Suing A&E would be clarifying. Courts have recently clouded the freedom of association, mandating that wedding cake bakers and photographers cannot choose whom they associate with. If they can't, why can A&E? If A&E can, why can't the bakers and photographers? Is tolerance just a one-way street now? And if it's a one-way street, is it really tolerance at all?