Wow! You guys are angry, aren’t you?! For the past couple of days I’ve been following my Twitter feed and my Facebook page and, well, there’s a really big brouhaha over Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s comments in the recent issue of GQ Magazine. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to say that I didn’t even know his real name until a couple of days ago and I have only seen the show a couple of times due to being held hostage by my niece, who is a fan. I have read a lot of heated comments both for and against Mr. Robertson and I am aware of A&E’s actions resulting from the interview with Drew Magary of GQ (if you have not read the entire article – and I suggest that you do for context – then click here). There are a few things that have occurred to me that I just want to discuss with you.
First of all, and let’s all be completely honest here, is any one really surprised by what this man said? It seems to me that if you have any knowledge at all of this show, his family & their platform and take into consideration just who he is and his background, can you really be surprised? I guarantee that the interviewer wasn’t surprised by his views. What does surprise me is the intensity of the public response. People, I think that this may fall into the “consider the source category.” Moving on…
Apparently, there is a clear misunderstanding of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding free speech. Mr. Robertson’s right to express himself has not been infringed upon. As long as any citizen is not using his or her words to incite violence against another person or the government, they may say what they wish. However, that doesn’t guarantee that those who receive the message will like it. There is always the possibility of negative consequences whether it be to a personal relationship or, as in this case, an employer or just general backlash. My guess is that Mr. Robertson knew that when he said it because it is impossible to be a public person and not understand that reality. Having said that, what I do like is his unwillingness to alter his view depending upon his audience. Regardless of whether or not I agree with your position, standing firm in your convictions is commendable. I wish more of us were willing to do so, of course accepting that there may be negative repercussions.
As a Christian, I am growing increasingly concerned by the tone of the rhetoric that we are not only willing to support, but that we often spew. Regarding the comments made in the interview, as crude and crass as they were, it could have been worse. However, if I have something so precious and wonderful that I want the world to know about it, why would I insult people that I want to draw near? If I really believe that Christ is the answer and his love is what saved me, why would I approach others harshly. Surely we can see how this could further push them away. I am a firm believer that you can say just about anything to someone else as long as it’s said with respect and love. It doesn’t require you to change your beliefs, it just requires broadening of your vocabulary and your heart. So often I hear Christians complain about being portrayed as hateful, crazy and intolerant and I do agree that sometimes it is an unfair portrayal. However, many times we, Christians, play a role in creating that impression.
Finally, “I sho’ do like workin’ in dese here cotton fields all day in the hot, hot, hot sun fo’ next to nothin’, ‘fraid that I might get a beatin’ if I don’t get my work done,” said no Black person ever! Mr. Robertson’s assertion that African-American’s were “happy” before civil rights is just plain ridiculous. None of the field workers complained to him because he is white and they could have ended up being beaten or killed. They were singing to pass the time and historically the words to those old spiritual songs were a way to communicate with one another without their slave owners knowing. Those songs have become a part of African-American culture. Equating African-Americans as being equal to him because he was self-described “white trash” and suggesting that Blacks in general have some universal link to entitlements and welfare is bigoted. There’s really no other way to look at it. Thankfully, I recognize that Mr. Robertson is truly ignorant and deserves my pity not my ire.
So, once again, we find our selves at odds. This seems to happen daily. A country so deeply divided that even a reality television star could have the nation in an uproar. Does that sound as silly to you as it does to me?