If You Support Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, This is What You’re Really Defending

To all those Christians who are planning to rally behind Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson on “Chick-Phil-A” Day and beyond, let’s remind everybody what exactly you’re supporting so that we have a(nother) record of how truly awful you are.

We already know about Robertson’s homophobia and how he believes it’s on par with bestiality when it comes to sin:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. 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.

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,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “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.”

Don’t forget the ignorance-fueled racist comments suggesting that black people were actually happy in the Jim Crow south:

“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.

And then there’s that video of him making misogynistic comments about how older women (ages 20 and up) are all gold-diggers and how you should marry underage girls instead since they’re easier to control:

“Look, you wait ‘til they get to be twenty years-old and the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket. You got to marry these girls when they’re about fifteen or sixteen. They’ll pick your ducks.”

There’s also the (actual) Islamophobia, comparing all Muslims to Nazis while also throwing in some anti-Chinese sentiments for good measure:

… What will do the Muslims in? Violations of the law; that’s what’ll do ‘em in. What will do the Chinese in, if they don’t turn to Jesus? One violation… it’s not called the law of sin and death for nothing… they go on to be controlled by the Evil One. That’s why they run jet aircraft into buildings, because they’re under control of the Evil One. That’s why they rob and kidnap and rape and pillage, because they’re under control of the Evil One. That’s why they murder, from the Nazis, to the Shintoists, to the communists to this latest crop! You say ‘Why do they murder?” and “Why do they hate us?! Because all of them, those four groups, 80 years of history, they all want to conquer the world, they all rejected Jesus, and they’re all famous for murder. Nazis, Shintoists, Communists, and the Muhammadists. Every one of them, the same way…

And there’s also the less-offensive-but-still-highly-untrue claim that, late at night, atheists would prefer to meet Bible-thumpers on the road than anybody else:

here comes ten dudes, coming towards you. And they’re all carrying something in their hand. There’s your wife [and your] kids. And you’re thinking, “Oh my goodness, it’s three in the morning. Here comes ten dudes coming toward me. And I’m in a major metropolitan area of the United States of America.” And as they get close enough, and come into the light a little bit, they’re all carrying Bibles. [Late night] Bible study.

Even if you’re an atheist, tell the truth: You would feel better about it. Right? I’m just sayin’.

So I’ve looked at both groups. I’ve looked at the Bible Thumpers, and the ones that carry other things in their hands besides Bibles. Oh, I’ll take the Bible Thumpers every day of the week.

Actually, I’d prefer running into people carrying any books late at night. God Delusion? Koran? Kama Sutra? Whatever. Better a book than the alternatives. The Bible’s got nothing to do with it.

Yes, Robertson has free speech. No one’s denying him the right to say any of these things and, frankly, I’m more than happy to give him enough rope to hang himself with, so let’s hope he keeps giving interviews and opening his mouth. Remember: We have every right to judge him harshly for the beliefs he holds, just as we ought to judge anyone who wants to defend this horrible man. It doesn’t matter that he says we ought to “love” Muslims and black people when those comments are preceded by stereotypes, generalizations, lies, and outright ignorance.

Robertson revels in the fact that he doesn’t know much and he has no desire to learn why he might be wrong. In that sense, he’s not too different from Sarah Palin and Governor Bobby Jindal the other right-wingers coming to his defense.

All this attention thrown on the show has nothing to do with Robertson’s right to free speech. That was never in question. The real argument is how we, as a society, respond to someone who says such untrue, outrageous, harmful, and hurtful things. Do we push back against it or do we laugh because that guy’s just so folksy and real?

We have to push back. And Christians ought to be horrified that their faith is being used by Robertson to defend his statements. They won’t be, though. Instead, Evangelicals everywhere are bending over backwards to throw their support his way.

Don’t forget what they’re really defending.

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  • SeekerLancer

    Why are they even doing this “support Phil Robertson” crap? A&E took him off suspension. They clearly demonstrated the only people watching Duck Dynasty in the first place were the kind of people who like to hear anti-gay bigotry.

    So he can continue to spew his evangelical insanity and people with zero cultural awareness can pat him on the back and make him their personal hero. They do more damage to their own cause than atheists ever could.

  • mandas

    Can I just add a little bit of perspective here.
    This guy is an ignorant redneck hillbilly who lives in a swamp and hunts ducks for a living. Who gives a flying fuck what he thinks or says? And why is anyone surprised that he has ignorant redneck attitudes to just about everything?
    What’s happening in the real world?

  • Kengi

    I thought he was the CEO of a profitable corporation and a cultural media icon who has a lot of influence because of A&E’s large, well funded advertising and promotional support.

  • anniewhoo

    He also has a master’s degree in education.

  • SeekerLancer

    At least 1.5 million other ignorant redneck hillbillies on Facebook apparently.

  • $324578

    He’s a redneck hillbilly with a massive audience and a really big loudspeaker. The true answer to your question is that a TON of people care what he says, no matter how ignorant he is, and that’s the problem.

  • onamission5

    Funny thing is, many people grow up rednecks and still manage not to be racist, homophobic, misogynistic fuckwits. Imagine.

  • Kengi

    Those defending Robertson aren’t doing so because they don’t realize all the horrible things he is promoting, they defend him because they agree with the horrible things he is promoting. Robertson has no reasonable concept of decency or shame, nor do his cadre of defenders.

  • Bec

    Exactly. They read his list and all nod their heads in agreement. Most comments I have read in support of Robertson go along the lines of:
    ‘ So what, he can say what he wants and noone should be punished for free speech.’, ‘ So what, he is only exercising his rights, besides, its all true.’ or ‘so what, nothing he said was offensive, gay people will get all upset over nothing and manipulate the liberal left wing media to censor the views of ordinary folk.’
    It blows me away that his comments are not considered offensive. I mean, he could have said instead ‘I am a christian and I believe being gay is a sin according to the Bible.’ and it would not cause a ripple. But Robertson dieliberately chose to put his views out there in the most intolerant manner, using slander and bigotry to whip up his audience. He used that method because that is how homosexuality is talked about in his circles and those of hia viewers and its his career on the line as a redneck ignoramus. His fans just eat up that shit and ask for more.

  • jon

    Surely though there are at least some ignorant followers

  • Kengi

    As far as I can see, they are all ignorant. Do you mean ignorant of his actual views? I see no sign of that. Can you point me to an example?

  • The Captain

    Now that more of the interview has come out, I need to hand it to A&E, they did an brilliant job of spinning this in their favor and we all fell right into it.

    I think A&E saw that the really offensive thing he said was the comments he made about black people and civil rights, that was the potential show killer. Yes, the comments about gays are bad, but pretty much even many anti-gay right wing christians could potentially look at his comments on black people and say fuck you to this show. But by leaking the anti-gay comments first they buried his race comments under all the internet noise, and most importantly turned him into a right wing christian hero/martyr before anyone could hear about the race stuff. So now by using the gay comments A&E has galvanized support for the show from the anti-gay segment of the country, who now will overlook (or never hear) his race comments.

    So now rather than the national discourse being “holly crap this guy thinks black people where happier under segregation and now all live on welfare” which would have very little support, they turned the dialogue into one of being anti-gay, which sadly does have a lot of support.

    The network PR people basically pulled what I’m convinced will be called and taught in PR classes as a “Chick-Fil-A move”. Christians have now proven their outrage so easy to predict they have become easily manipulatable. Have a star/brand/business that’s about to be in trouble for racist or other socially unacceptable reasons? Make them a temporary martyr publicly, just blame it on the gays and watch christians rally support for your brand while handing you money.

    Well played A&E… well played!

  • Kengi

    Yup, and A&E “punished” Robertson by suspending him from filming for several days during which no filming was scheduled to be done anyway. Despite this completely phony punishment A&E has managed to get praise from several LGBT organizations. Honestly, I don’t understand why there isn’t more outrage against A&E for their complete lack of integrity.

  • SeekerLancer

    As someone with a background in PR I kept thinking the whole time that A&E only did this to spin their fanbase into a frenzy. The amount of Duck Dynasty merchandise they probably sold RIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS thanks to this has to be pretty insane. Now the holiday season is over and so is Phil Robertson’s suspension.

    Call me a cynic or a conspiracy theorist but the whole thing was so manufactured.

    I am surprised the media hasn’t glomped onto his racist comments more, considering how quickly they ruined Paula Deen with a lot less. But I guess nobody expects someone like Phil Robertson not to be racist in the first place. That and the gay stuff drowned out all other discussion I guess.

    This also inoculates Phil Robertson in the future, he basically has a free ticket to run his mouth since his fans not only expect it, they want him to. There were no downsides for A&E in all of this. Duck Dynasty fans will continue to scream about the company for it’s phony “persecution” and “violation of rights” because they have no idea how freedom of religion or speech actually works but they’ll continue buying the merchandise and watching the show.

  • http://heartofbirch.blogspot.com/ CarysBirch

    Yes, yes, yes. My views on Robertson completely aside, I can’t decide if I am more annoyed by A&E’s manipulation of the situation, more impressed with their deft handling, or more amused by how many people swallowed it hook line and sinker.

    Mix of all three, really.

  • Malcolm McLean

    You might be right.

    PR can be very sophisticated, and cynical.

  • Malcolm McLean

    It’s a general rule that spoiling causes resentment. It’s the kids who get showered with toys who kick up a fuss because Santa has brought the wrong brand of mobile phone. Poor kids rejoice at a few modest presents.

    Mr Robertson is right on a lot of issues. Maybe not everything, and he expresses things in a silly exaggerated way which goes down well with Americans.

  • Kengi

    He’s a racist and a bigot, which goes down well with a certain subset of Americans.

    I have no idea what your point is about Robertson being rich and spoiled. Did he also complain about a mobile phone someone gave to him for Christmas? Is that why he resents those less privileged than he is?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    he presents himself as a working class, good old swamp dwelling country boy. he is in fact a highly educated yuppie/upper class business executive pretending to be something else. his fans glorify him for all the things about him that are completely faked. like the stupid idiots they are.

  • SeekerLancer

    If Phil Robertson didn’t have a pot to piss in he’d still be the same exact racist Louisiana redneck, it’s just that nobody would care.

    And “goes down well with Americans” is a silly statement. It goes down well with those Americans who would be interested in something like Duck Dynasty in the first place, which isn’t the majority.

  • more compost

    It goes down well with a certain subset of ignorant, intolerant Americans. The worst of Americans.

    A group which you seem proud to call yourself a member of.

  • Malcolm McLean

    I’m not an American at all.

  • Jachra

    He’s “right” on a lot of issues?
    Are you saying he’s correct on all of these things?

  • IDK

    Actually, what Robertson, as hateful as he is, said about the Muslims is mild compared to what Sam Harris wants to do to them.

    Atheists have people to be ashamed of too, like the Patheos blogger who said he felt like “firebombing things” when he saw Oprah Winfreys woo woo comments on spirituality and atheism.

    Just Sayin…

  • http://batman-news.com Anton

    what Robertson, as hateful as he is, said about the Muslims is mild compared to what Sam Harris wants to do to them.

    I read what Harris actually wrote in The End of Faith, which is more than I can say about his scaremongering naysayers. Perhaps you’d like to explain what Harris “wants to do,” so we can see if you understand what he said.

  • XJ5

    Get off it! Sam Harris’s comments on Muslims have long been over-blown and seized upon by Muslims and Liberal Apologist for Islam.

  • The Starship Maxima

    While your post was quite impassioned and full of many good points, I disagree with it.
    Yes, I defend Robertson. Yes, you and many people here will call that objectionable. Yes, there will be 50 downvotes and sharp replies saying “Of course another brainwashed Christian defends indefensible bullshit.” That is your prerogative. But, no, I don’t defend him because I agree with his views.
    I defend him for the same reason I wouldn’t want you suspended or fired even though your site is rife with broad generalizations of religious people, itself a form of bigotry. You are a math teacher, your views and opinions on other subjects are completely irrelevant to your ability to do that job. Phil Robertson is paid to be duck hunter on a tv show. He seems to do that well. His socio-political views aren’t relevant to me.
    I’m black and don’t particularly care that he thinks blacks were happier under Jim Crow, just like I’m not particularly concerned you think all Christians are interested in proselytizing people and fear logic. I know the truth about myself, and it is my opinion on my own being that matters first and last.
    But more than defending Robertson, I oppose thought-policing. You say you have the right to “push back” when someone says things you don’t like. True, you do. But many people label things they don’t want to hear as “harmful” and “wrong”. There was a time saying gays deserved to marry was considered “harmful” and “wrong”.
    But beyond that, I want to make sure your “pushing back” doesn’t exceed what is fair. You don’t have to watch his show, or buy his stuff. You want to organize a boycott, go ahead. I think the line should be drawn at his job being interfered with.
    You, and many others, don’t think so. Well, as you can appreciate, me and those who believe in true free speech have the right to push back against you. And we will.

  • more compost

    He is not paid to be a duck hunter on a TV show. He is paid to be ignorant and intolerant. And he does it very well.

    It was A&E’s choice, and their right, to “interfere” with his job. Of course, it wasn’t interference. It was a publicity stunt. And you seem to have fallen for it.

  • The Starship Maxima

    He is not paid to be a duck hunter on a TV show. He is paid to be ignorant and intolerant. And he does it very well

    That appears to be more an opinion than a conclusive fact.

    It was A&E’s choice, and their right to “interfere” with his job. Of course, that isn’t what happened. This was all a publicity stunt. Too bad you don’t understand that.

    It’s less that I “don’t understand” and more “Unless I actually know what happened in A&E’s offices, I won’t assume one way or the other.”
    And yes, you are absolutely correct, it is A&E right to interfere with his job. Just as it the right of a business in a state that doesn’t offer protections based on sex orientation to fire a gay employee.
    As Hemant said, it is my right to oppose the people and businesses who do that. And I will.

  • Kengi

    Robertson is not simply “paid to be duck hunter on a tv show”. He is the primary character is a semi-reality based television show, and is promoted by A&E as a media icon with their advertising and PR resources. If he becomes a liability, A&E certainly does have the right to punish, or even fire him based upon pushback from their customers.

    To say Robertson, in a pivotal advertising and PR role for A&E, should somehow have a right to employment there and be shielded from corporate censure is very un-libertarian.

  • The Starship Maxima

    A compelling argument. But the problem is, in some parts of the country, simply saying that gays should be able to adopt and marry and get paid the same would offend customers, and a business could fire someone behind that. They have in fact, which is partly why everyone is fighting for ENDA to pass.
    In my view, the work of an employee should be the only consideration. Their personal views are their own.

  • Kengi

    In the United States of America (in case you aren’t familiar with our laws), we decided in the 1960’s that historically discriminated against groups should have special protections from the tyranny of the majority. That allows us to protect some basic rights of minority groups with minimal impact upon the rights of others.

    Gay-bashing employees aren’t part of a historically discriminated against group yet, so aren’t protected.

    Again, Robertson’s job is not duck hunting. It’s as a promotional employee who has been specifically been promoted as a cultural icon. By using the bully pulpit which A&E bought and paid for, Robertson’s public promotion of racism and bigotry is an inseparable part of his iconic image and his promotional value as an employee.

    If he actually were just a duck hunter (or math teacher) for A&E, you might have a point. Your premise, however, falls apart when we look at his actual role within the organization.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Don’t you think you might be overestimating Robertson’s influence? He’s a cartoon hillbilly, nobody is going to stop campaigning for ENDA or ending DOMA based on Robertson’s say so.

  • sara

    My concern isn’t so much A&E’s behavior as the people who watch the show and buy the merchandise. While it was obvious to some people that the show was a veneer of silliness covering a deep well of ugly, I was able to understand fans not wanting to see it. Now there is no way of pretending not to know that they are buying toys and bedsheets featuring the face of hate. I have more respect for the woman I argued with the other day because she claimed it was immoral to disagree with him than I do for the people who claim that they disagree with but support his right to speech, while they gobble up his merchandise.

  • SeekerLancer

    You’re missing a very important point here. Hemant is not representing his employer when he posts on his blog. He’s free to have any opinions he wants.

    Phil Robertson was representing A&E in that interview as a trademarked character of their most popular program. Thus the things he say could be damaging to the company.

    Imagine if Hemant went into class and started telling his students to abandon their religion and become atheists. Would you want him fired? I certainly would.

    But he doesn’t do that, and therefore Hemant’s passionate secularism has no effect on his job. Phil Robertson’s opinions however do effect his role as a public figure.

    It’s comparing apples and oranges. And to be fair I ultimately don’t understand why A&E would try to “punish” Phil Robertson myself considering his fans wouldn’t, and didn’t take offense to what he said. The only reason they appeared to do it was to whip up a controversy on purpose for publicity.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Phil Robertson was representing A&E in that interview as a trademarked character of their most popular program. Thus the things he say could be damaging to the company.

    Hm, that’s a good point to consider.

    Imagine if Hemant went into class and started telling his students to abandon their religion and become atheists. Would you want him fired? I certainly would.

    Hemant’s too savvy for such an immature display, but yes, I see your point. Of course, this brings up the question, in this day and age, is someone ever OFF the clock and free to express themselves?

  • Aleister Gates

    what an asshat

  • Silent Service

    The real shame is that not one of them will actually consider anything that Duck Daddy has said as all that bad. Too damned many of my relatives agree with him 100%,

  • Adam Waltenbaugh

    I am horrified that my faith is being used by Robertson to defend his statements. He represents himself as a Christian, but he doesn’t represent Jesus very well.

  • Kengi

    The Bible is such a large set of conflicting books written over such a long time by so many different people from different cultures, that it can be used to support and defend just about any viewpoint. I can argue, using Biblical resources, that being gay is bad and sinful, and can turn around seconds later and argue, from that same resource, it’s a natural part of society, no different than opposite-sex attraction.

    That’s one of the problems with your faith, and why there are thousands of different denominations and sects of Christianity.

  • jon

    Well most Christians don’t act like Jesus. Oh wait..how Christian of them for being sinners

  • cyb pauli

    What makes your interpretation of Biblical revelation and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ more legitimate than his?

  • onamission5

    I think I have officially run out of words on this subject, so I’ll just say “yes, this.”

  • B.J. Murphy

    The reality of Phil Robertson.

  • Jeff

    You are making a perfect point about Phil and how we, as a society, chose to deal with him. However, you are, if you would forgive the phrase, preaching to the choir, and those who most need to hear “the word” are not listening.

  • jon

    The whole problem with the bigot argument is that declaring something wrong doesn’t necessarily mean one hates the person. You also have to figure out the person’s motive which is not too easy