What do you think? Is “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson getting a raw deal for expressing his homophobic beliefs in GQ, or was the A&E network right to suspend him for his comments? Daniel Burke of CNN’s Belief Blog reports:
While controversy swirled around Phil Robertson Wednesday evening, the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch was at his longtime church, praying for a young woman who suffers from cancer, the TV star’s pastor told CNN in an exclusive interview.
“Phil led us in prayer,” said Mike Kellett, senior pastor of White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana. “There were greater things on our minds than the firestorm of controversy about this article.”
Asked how Robertson is taking the fierce criticism of his remarks on homosexuality, Kellett said, “He’s very calm, and very confident that if he serves the Lord, God will take care of everything.”
Linda Holmes, writing at NPR.org, finds this all rather disconcerting:
In suspending him, A&E released a statement in which it said, according to CNN, “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. … His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”
Now, ask yourself what kind of sense this makes.
For one thing, A&E is not only explaining that Phil’s personal beliefs — which, for him, are part and parcel of the religious faith that has been one of the show’s selling points — do not reflect the position of the network. It is explaining that Phil’s personal beliefs are not reflected in the show that is ostensibly about Phil. I’m trying to remember whether I’ve ever seen a network point out quite so clearly — if perhaps accidentally — that you don’t have to punish Show Phil for the things that are said in the press by Actual Phil.
I think this tweet from Ian McGibboney sums up the situation very well: “Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom of consequences from that speech, especially if it’s ignorant and hateful.” Read more of what Ian has to say at his blog. Your thoughts?