Friday, December 20, 2013

The Duck Dynasty bigots and the conservatives who love them

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Bible-thumping bigot.
Hey, here's a thought, A&E, if you don't want to be associated with bigotry, stop giving reality shows to, you know, fucking redneck bigots like the Duck Dynasty clan. I mean, what the fuck did you think was going to happen?

And, really, all these bigots are doing is doubling down on their bigotry:

The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil's unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.

It is, yes, but it's not a constitutional right to have a TV show, and A&E is under no constitutional obligation to keep these bigots on the air.

And if Phil Robertson was just "expressing his faith," then his faith teaches bigotry, which apparently his version of fundamentalist Christianity does. And if really loves his neighbor as himself, why would he then compare homosexuality to bestiality and say that gays and others who supposedly sin "won't inherit the Kingdom of God." It seems Phil likes the hateful parts of the Bible, of which there are many, not to mention of his "faith" generally, and filters the rest of it through an ideology of bigotry and hate. His family can spin it however it wants, but that spin is bullshit.

Now, did Phil deserve to be suspended? Andrew Sullivan makes a good case against it:

Robertson is a character in a reality show. He's not a spokesman for A&E any more than some soul-sucking social x-ray from the Real Housewives series is a spokeswoman for Bravo. Is he being fired for being out of character? Nah. He’s being fired for staying in character – a character A&E have nurtured and promoted and benefited from. Turning around and demanding a Duck Dynasty star suddenly become the equivalent of a Rachel Maddow guest is preposterous and unfair.

Fair enough. And so it comes back to A&E for putting him and his family on the air. And of course the network was more than content basking in the profitable glow of their stardom, until it couldn't bear the public relations nightmare of Phil's bigoted comments -- about gays, but also about blacks living under Jim Crow in the pre-civil rights South (which he glorified).

But it's not a free speech issue, and it's A&E's call. Like I said, this guy and his relatives have every right to speak their minds, if they want to continue to push their bigoted fundamentalism, that's up to them. But that doesn't require anyone to give them a platform from which to do it. So I would hope that A&E would make the right decision and send these morons back where they came from without TV cameras following them, but of course in the end it's the almighty dollar that will prevail. Which is to say, they're not going anywhere, and they'll no doubt continue to have their stupid show, whether it's on A&E or some other awful network of that ilk.

But what's more telling is how conservatives are rallying en masse to Duck Dynasty's defense, to Phil's defense, claiming it's all just a free speech issue and that it's political correctness that is to blame for the whole thing. It's Bobby Jindal and it's David Vitter, both from Duck Dynasty's home state of Louisiana, and, of course, it's Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz, two of the leading voices of the Republican (far) right. The former referred to Phil "voicing his personal opinion," while the latter referred to how Phil "expressed his personal views and his own religious faith." That may be, but, then, both his personal views and his faith are bigoted.

Conservatives are trying to twist this into an attack on the media, on the politically correct, on the "intolerants," as Palin idiotically put it, as if the opposition to bigotry is somehow worse than the bigotry itself, which is just insane. But that's just what all these conservatives are saying. They're excusing the bigotry essentially as innocuous personal opinion that's really no big deal at all.

And in so doing they're not just enabling the bigotry but engaging in yet more of their usual hypocrisy. Did they defend free speech when, say, Martin Bashir said a nasty thing about Sarah Palin? Of course not. That was just a one-off for which he apologized, but he was widely vilified on the right and eventually forced off the air, even at supposedly liberal MSNBC. And even in that case, he was just responding to an incredibly ignorant thing Palin had said about slavery, and now we have Palin aggressively defending a bigot. Bashir probably shouldn't have gone there, but if it's ignorance and intolerance you're looking for, you need look no further than all these conservatives rallying to Phil Robertson's defense.

Phil himself, however popular his show, is just a reality show celebrity. His stardom will soon fade. But the fact that some of the Republican Party's leading lights, along with conservatives generally, are on his side tells you a great deal about the current state of the Republican Party and of conservatism generally. And what it tells you is that it's awfully vile over there on the right.

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  • And it's important for all of us to remember, that at the end of the day, none of this matters. These Duck Dynasty guys are totally irrelevant to anything actually important in life.

    The conservative reaction to this reminds me of the Chick-fil-a controversy when that all went down. Maybe liberals overplayed their hand and got their panties in a bunch by organizing a boycott of the restaurants. But it was conservatives reaction to that incident that was truly farcical, not to mention bigoted in spirit. (If you don't remember they all went to eat at Chick-fil-a.)

    It is a sad state of affairs in American society when going out and buying a chicken sandwich, or in this case standing up for some backwoods asswipe on A&E, is considered an act of social activism.

    By Anonymous Mark, at 5:06 PM  

  • Yes, that's certainly true. To a great extent, this is much ado about not very much, or at least about something that will soon be largely forgotten.

    And you're right that the larger issue here is the more pertinent, namely, the conservative reaction to this. It would be one thing if they were defending free speech on principle (like, say, the ACLU defending the KKK's right to march in public), but this isn't about principle, it's about trying to score political points by waging the usual right-wing culture war. They frame it as free speech, but ultimately, given their hypocrisy, they're defending the content, not the principle: defending Chick-fil-a's anti-gay policies and views, defending this Duck Dynasty nitwit's anti-gay and other retrograde views. Like I said, that tells you a lot about the current state of conservatism.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 6:59 PM  

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