By David Lampo
The Duck Dynasty uproar is in full swing, on this blog (Lori S., Lori H., and Matt) and across America, set off by Phil Robertson’s insistence on not only stating his religious views about homosexuality to GQ magazine, but doing so in a crude and titillating way and tapping the time-honored slur of comparing homosexuality with bestiality. He knew precisely what he was doing, of course, and what kind of culture war he was about to set off.
The silliness and intellectual dishonesty of those now rushing to his defense was perceptively analyzed on this blog by Lori Sanders yesterday, but since then, several aspiring Republican presidential contenders have gone into full pander mode to the mostly Christian Right defenders of Mr. Robertson, and in the process they have displayed their intellectual dishonesty and infidelity to the First Amendment they claim to respect.
Gov. Bobby Jindal from Louisiana repeated the usual rightwing drivel that “the politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with…. I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment,” making clear to all that he apparently has no idea what the Amendment actually says, a disturbing revelation for someone who would take the presidential oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. The First Amendment, of course, simply says the government may not place any restrictions on the free speech of any citizen, and none were. The amendment does not prohibit private citizens or a corporate entity like A&E from making their own private judgments about the propriety of Mr. Robertson’s remarks and acting on them. Free speech is a two way street, and those who disagree with Robertson, including his employer, have every right to counter and criticize his crude and bigoted statements, and that includes cancelling the Duck Dynasty show if A&E so chooses.
Sen. Ted Cruz, who is making a career out outrageous and extreme statements, also chimed in. “If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed,” he said, never explaining exactly how Robertson’s “religious liberty” was violated merely because those who disagree with his remarks exercised their own First Amendment rights by criticizing him, or because his employer may take action against him for violating his contract.
People like Jindal and Cruz, and for that matter Robertson himself, know they are losing the culture war over gay rights and same sex marriage, and they’re angry. So they’ve adopted a new strategy. Their new weapon is to now play the victim. Robertson, they say, is just the latest martyr in their battle to save Western civilization from the infidels, those who insist that equality under the law actually means something. Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, argued in defense of Mr. Robertson that Christians “feel like they’re under siege in a culture that is increasingly intolerant and discriminatory toward their views, and they don’t feel represented.” That is an amazing statement coming from someone who has spent a lifetime fighting to ensure that gays and lesbians are denied the same legal protections and rights that other Americans enjoy simply because he finds them offensive.
Phil Robertson is a victim only of his own bigotry and need to offend millions of his fellow citizens. He needs no defense from those who believe in the First Amendment or religious liberty, because his rights to both were never violated.