4 Reasons Why the Duck Dynasty Brouhaha Matters
A&E TV's decision to suspend Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty is still lighting up social media. The network probably had some idea that any decision impacting its most popular show would generate a backlash, but probably underestimated just how large the reaction would be. Whether it had any idea of just how important a battle it was opening is something only the network execs really know. If they're the typical broadcast execs, they probably have very little contact with the kind of people who watch Duck Dynasty, and have no idea why the show is as popular as it is.
Wittingly or not, A&E has chosen a side in the culture wars. The network said as much in its statement last night, when it said that it strongly stands with the LGBT community, against a man whose offense was quoting the New Testament. That's a significant statement, one that Christians should not ignore.
Give Them an Inch, and They'll Take a Mile
Many on the right have seen the trajectory of the gay rights movement and concluded that it's wise to surrender on the marriage question to be "on the right side of history." The lesson of Phil Robertson suggests that once the marriage battle is won, groups like the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD will simply move on to a new battlefield. They will not stop. They do not exist to stop. They exist to keep on pushing. The next battlefield may well be codifying the idea they expressed last night, that quoting mainstream Christian beliefs that have been in place for a couple thousand years amounts to hate speech that should be banned.
"A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value." http://t.co/tEjfxfL5J7 #LGBT
— GLAAD (@glaad) December 19, 2013
But discrimination against Christians is perfectly ok.
Unless GLAAD has a theological division, it's in no place to dictate Christian values. But that won't stop it from trying. The end game for GLAAD and its allies is among the most intolerant goals possible: They want to drive all Christians and Christian values and ideas from the public square in America. They want to persecute and oppress. They admitted as much when they supported Robertson's suspension for saying something that they didn't like.
Celebrate Diversity, by Mandating Conformity
Liberals had their talking points ready for the commencement of the Duck Dynasty war. Several took to cable news, MSNBC and Fox alike, to mount a remarkable defense of A&E. On The Kelly File last night, Bernard Whitman fired off a representative salvo when he opined that, as a gay Jewish man, he is well positioned to tell Christians what to believe. For some reason, his arrogance did not take his own breath away. He further stressed that the best way to celebrate the diversity of modern America is to ban opinions like those expressed by Robertson from public airing. "They should not be allowed on TV," he said.
Robertson did not express his opinion on TV, but in a print interview, but never mind that. He has never gone into much depth on his personal views on the show. That's not what Duck Dynasty is about. Whitman likely has never watched the show or heard of Phil Robertson prior to calling for an end to his career.
The idea, seriously offered, that we should celebrate diversity by mandating conformity is either an example of a comfortable version of cognitive dissonance, or plain old dishonesty. Cognitive dissonance is the ability to hold contradictory ideas as valid even though they cancel each other out. Whether "celebrate diversity by mandating conformity" is cognitive dissonance or dishonesty, it's strong evidence that having a rational, reasonable discussion with liberals like Whitman is no longer possible, and liberals like Whitman are the norm. They lead the progressive movement, write in all the approved newspapers, and get segments on all the networks. They either are incapable of seeing the flaws in their own logic, or they see them but don't care because their lies serve a purpose they find more important than mere honesty. Given yesterday's debate over lying to Amazon, and their ongoing defense of the many towering Obamacare lies, the latter is the safer way to bet. It's clear that leading liberal opinion makers do not have a problem with lying.
By the same token, some liberals challenged Republicans who criticized Martin Bashir with modern America's most poisonous accusation: hypocrisy. The situations are very different. Bashir was a news anchor who advocated that a specific person, Sarah Palin, should be grossly physically assaulted for her political views. He made his scripted comments on the air on MSNBC. Robertson answered a question asked of him for a print interview, was not on the air, and his full answer expresses the love and tolerance that liberals claim that they seek. Yet they pilloried Robertson anyway, to make an example of him.
Just comparing the two dissimilar situation demonstrates either a lack of comprehension, or more dishonesty.
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?