Yes, Mr. Robertson, There Are Consequences for Hate Speech

duck-meme-350Let’s be clear about the facts. Phil Robertson, the bearded patriarch of Duck Dynasty fame, did not simply declare homosexuality to be a sin or against the Bible’s teachings. Robertson condemned homosexuality as a perversion, a step on the slippery slope to bestiality. Robertson expressed a hatred and condemnation for gay people in vile and filthy language that reflects the garbage that rumbles around in his head.

Two examples from his GQ interview

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” Robertson told GQ. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine,” he later added. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

The A&E network has responded to Robertson’s declarations by suspending him from his television show on that network, Duck Dynasty. Conservatives and some Christian groups are crying foul and insisting that Robertson’s first amendment rights have been violated.

Freedom of speech and the first amendment have nothing to do with Robertson’s suspension. The 1st amendment prohibits the government from restricting speech (note, even that prohibition isn’t absolute, there are types of speech that can be regulated by the government). The first amendment protects us from laws being made that restrict freedom of the press, of religion, and of speech. However, it doesn’t protect us from all the consequences of making ignorant and bigoted commentary. The government didn’t do anything to Robertson; his employer did.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. –U.S. Constitution

The A&E network isn’t the government nor an agency of the government, and like any employer, unless there is an employment contract to the contrary, can suspend or fire an employee at will. The big exception is that an employer can’t fire someone for discriminatory reasons if it can be shown that the individual belongs to a protected class as defined by law and the rational for the dismissal is directly linked to the person’s status as a member of a protected class.

Bigots aren’t a protected class and A&E consider Robertson to be bad for business. There are consequences for expressing your views. He can continue to express them but I’m not losing a bit of sleep because A&E said, “Not on this network!”

Of course, there are those who declare suspending Robertson is another prong in the liberal anti-Christian movement. After all, the man was quoting the Bible and he has a right to do so.

Except, Robertson isn’t quoting the Bible. There are only seven references in the Bible that appear to be about homosexuality and Robertson quoted none of them. Just making up crap and attributing it to the Bible doesn’t make it about Christianity. Robertson did not quote the Bible, he interpreted the Bible according to his understanding and beliefs.

I have a Bible quote for Robertson, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1 (KJV)

Here’s a more conservative view of the Bible’s statements on homosexuality; still only seven references and nothing even remotely echoing Robertson’s alleged Bible quoting tirade.

We live in a country of at-will employment laws. Employers can fire employees for no reason, for cause, for anything that is not prohibited discrimination under the law. Robertson stuck his foot in it.

By the way, Robertson’s anti-gay bigotry has caught so much attention that his comments on race have been ignored. Please note, that according to GQ, Robertson volunteered much of the controversial information in the interview. He wasn’t asked about his views on homosexuality or race.

Phil On Growing Up in Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Louisiana:

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

sheria reidMaybe during his suspension, Robertson will have time to visit some of those happy black people with whom he worked, and sing a few songs. I’m certain they’re also longing for the good old days, pre-entitlement and pre-welfare.

Sheria Reid
The Examined Life

Published by the LA Progressive on December 25, 2013
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About Sheria Reid

Sheria Reid is a native of eastern North Carolina. She is a former high school English teacher, a licensed attorney and currently works as a legislative analyst at the North Carolina state legislature.

Comments

  1. As I read this, all Robertson did was remind us of what scripture says, and present his view, carefully speaking only for himself. He never declared homosexuality to be a sin. He reminded us that scripture says that.

    His expression, it seems to me, was astoundingly modest…

    Either he was being accurate about what scripture says, or he is not.

    If he’s wrong, then A&E tried to toss him for not citing the Bible properly. If he DID cite the Bible properly, then A&E tried to toss Robertson for telling us what is in the bible.

    Either way, A&E went way out on a limb.

    As AC writes:

    “Instead of the government censoring speech, what we have is shock troops of liberal agitators demanding people’s heads for the slightest divergence from Officially Approved Liberal Opinion.

    Evidently, the word of God is on the banned list. As Robertson himself has said, all he did “was quote from the Scriptures, but they just didn’t know it.”

  2. Timothy-Allen Albertson says:

    call religion bigotry and can ignore civil righs kaws

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