Pondering duck doctrines and our bubble-bound media elite

Let’s see. Where should we begin on this oh-so-bizarre morning?

What will it be, Pope Francis, Santa Claus or Duck Dynasty?

Pope Francis, Santa Claus or Duck Dynasty? As my favorite French History professor at Baylor University used to say, with a world-weary and exasperated sigh: “What a world.”

First, let me offer a few relevant confessions on my part.

I would like to echo the following Twitter comment by one of the scribes who often hangs out in my favorite coffee shop here in our neighborhood on Capitol Hill. Yes, this man is a bit of an elite Yankee, but he is what he is. Ross Douthat works for The New York Times. So, sue him.

I’m good to go with all of that, except for the “Merry Christmas” reference — since we are still in Advent, after all. Douthat must be one of those post-Vatican II Catholics (just kidding).

Another confession: I have never watched a single episode of “Duck Dynasty,” although I have tried to do so several times. It’s just not my style. Frankly, when it comes to the masculine virtues I favor Jane Austen’s Captain Frederick Wentworth over the the guys in the duck crew. I also lived in the mountains of Tennessee for six years (and plan to live there again someday) and I’ve never even watched a NASCAR race on television. I do, however, like barbecue. A lot. I also like ZZ Top and Eastern Orthodox bishops, so I’m OK with the beards.

There, I needed to get all of that off my chest. Now, I can confess that there is one element of the Duck Dynasty media storm that fascinates me.

Let’s try, for a minute, to ignore duck patriarch Phil Robertson’s reflections on genitalia — although I rather think that if he had rapped that stuff with a strong backbeat, it would have viewed as a kind of elderly Eminem thing. You know, Eminem has to keep his street cred. Elite media folks from places like Harvard and Yale tend to respect street cred way more than they do swamp cred.

No, I want to join the once and always GetReligionista M.Z. Hemingway in thinking that the key to this particular duck blind spot is found in this chunk of Robertson GQ prose:

“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.” …

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.” …

“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.”

The big words are “sin” and, of course, “sinners.” Yes, that whole sin subject is encoded in the familiar tmatt trio riff. You can look it up.

Thus, as M.Z. noted at The Federalist, it’s crucial that the Associated Press television-beat report on the duck controversy stated the matter in the following terms:

LOS ANGELES (AP) – “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson is off the hit A&E reality series indefinitely after disparaging gays as sinners akin to adulterers and swindlers, the network said.

And later:

In his GQ interview, Robertson was asked his definition of sinful behavior.

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” such as bestiality, he said.

GQ said he then paraphrases a biblical reference: “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.”

Thus, here is the crucial point that journalists must grasp, according to M.Z. (and I say, “Amen”):

Some people hold the doctrinal view that homosexuality, adultery and swindling are sinful. Others hold the doctrinal view that homosexuality, adultery and swindling are not sinful. If you’re talking about whether something is or is not a sin, you’re talking doctrine. In this regard, it’s not just Phil Robertson who is talking about his personal doctrinal views. Some self-awareness is in order.

Further, one of the most important points of Christianity is the forgiveness of sins. Christians talk about sin a lot. From Genesis to Revelation, it’s a major theme. For the last 2,000 years it’s been a major theme. While the current media climate tends to have a rather narrow view of sin (the only sin is believing in sin), this is in contrast with historic Christianity. Again, some self-awareness is in order.

As several journalists on that Playbook panel noted the other day, there is a growing awareness in our culture that many elite members of the chattering classes need to get out of their bubbles every now and then and perhaps even listen to more of the voices — both profane and profound — that are found in the rest of American life.

Or, as one of the most elite voices among the elite once put it, while describing the need for cultural and intellectual diversity in his newsroom:

First and foremost we hire the best reporters, editors, photographers and artists in the business. But we will make an extra effort to focus on diversity of religious upbringing and military experience, of region and class.

Of course, diversifying the range of viewpoints reported — and understood — in our pages is not mainly a matter of hiring a more diverse work force. It calls for a concerted effort by all of us to stretch beyond our predominantly urban, culturally liberal orientation, to cover the full range of our national conversation. …

This is important to us not because we want to appease believers or pander to conservatives, but because good journalism entails understanding more than just the neighborhood you grew up in.

Yes, “amen.” What. He. Said.

That was Bill Keller back in 2005 (click here for .pdf), when he was editor of The New York Times. It’s easy to write words such as these, but harder for journalists to heed them — which would require true tolerance and real diversity.

So what’s the takeaway here? Truth be told, there are lots of Americans who live in neighborhoods (and swamps) in which people still talk (at times in crude terms) about “sin” and even believe that sex outside of marriage can — as many religions have taught for centuries — be called “sin.” That’s the cultural heresy at the heart of this media firestorm.

About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    What Mollie said.

    • Carlh

      The damning thing (yikes, I guess that’s sort of one of those awful sin reference in and of itself) about what Mollie said so well is her statement of what American culture will tolerate while ever-so-vehemently “protecting” the sensitive against any suggestion that there are people who believe–and are willing to proclaim–that self-esteem might just not be the highest virtue and won’t trump what those people believe is God’s view of it all.

      • brianbrianbrian1

        No. The issue is he compared gays in love to someone fornicating with a sheep. Honestly, that’s really offensive to many folks (including many Xns who oppose same-sex marriage). As I indicated below, the media has treated the pope with accolades because he expressed his disagreement with respect and compassion. The Duck guy said demeaning things. If you believe in sin, why not label his comments as such, and be grateful that our society finds such insulting language inappropriate (even when we disagree)?

        • LissaKay

          *sigh* No .. he did NOT compare homosexuality to bestiality. He was simply describing how we have come to accept more and more things that were previously unacceptible …

          “Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.”

          Then he listed a number of different behaviors which are considered to be sinful by most Christians.

          “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,”

          Of course, everywhere this is quoted, the two parts of the statement are separated at the key point … the media is on the job and the willing public is ready to jump on whatever they are told to believe.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            He went immediately from gays to bestiality. You don’t “morph” from gays to sheep. And I was not aware that bestiality has become acceptable. You put those things in the same category which is what he did. And yup that’s extraordinarily offensive including to many Xns opposed to SSM.

          • wlinden

            So now you’re saying that it is the ORDER in which he said things, and it would have been different if he had said “sleeping around with this woman and that woman, and bestiality”?

          • brianbrianbrian1

            My god, are you a lawyer for O.J? Yes, if someone says “Christian” and then walks the dog, does the dishes, and later says “bigot,” that’s probably different than saying those two things together and clearly grouping them. Drop the caps and the sophistry. The guy grouped homosexuality and bestiality. He did it clearly. Intentionally.

            If you are fine with that grouping, then own it. If you’re not, then speak up and say what he said was wrong. But please stop playing games. It is unseemly.

          • wlinden

            So your answer is first ‘Yes”, then “No”, with personal abuse in an attempt to bolster it.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            Um, no. The answer is yes.

            Let me try, for the 19th time, to put this as simply as I can. He grouped homosexuality and bestiality. One is sex involving humans, one is sex involving animals. Linking those things is, for most folks, tremendously insulting. That’s it. No grammar parsing needed, no caps. Just one terrible insulting move.

            Now, I’ve got better things to do.

          • Thomas Nichols
          • malcolmthecynic

            No, not really, since it isn’t relevant.

          • malcolmthecynic

            No, he didn’t. He grouped homosexual ACTS, bestiality, idolatry, and adultery. Homosexuality was never grouped with bestiality – not once.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            Again, these fine distinctions are very meaningful to you, but not to the rest of us (and by us, I include many Christians opposed to homosexuality). Heck, I think “us” here would include the pope. I can’t imagine him making a statement like this.

          • malcolmthecynic

            “Okay, you’re absolutely right, but I don’t care!”

            - brianbrianbrian1

            Also, I’d imagine that the the entire crux of the issue for Pope Francis is that he condemns ONLY the acts, and not orientation. That he doesn’t have the same speaking or writing style as Robertson for various reasons has nothing to do with the point that we have all been making and that you have finally conceded.

          • Thomas Nichols

            Brian may have conceded, but I do not. (And, I don’t speak for either Brian or Robertson.)

            It’s apparent that Robertson is engaging in an argument of equivalence that is both simplistic and disgusting. It might make you uncomfortable because it exposes something you don’t like about yourself, but your discomfort doesn’t change the obvious.

          • malcolmthecynic

            What argument of equivalence? What is he comparing? Because if you think, as Brian did, that he is comparing “two people in love” to “a person humping a donkey”, then you don’t have a different opinion. You’re wrong.

            Because that’s what we were responding to, and what Brian eventually was forced to concede when presented with the actual words of the interview. Your silly comments about it making me “uncomfortable” are just making you look bad, so I suggest staying on topic.

          • Thomas Nichols

            Walking away from a discussion is not a concession. Also, Robertson’s disgusting analogy may be defensible as far as you’re concerned, but the person who is desperately trying to spin the discussion away from what was actually said and the clear intention behind it would be you.

          • malcolmthecynic

            What the Hell are you talking about? All we’ve done is quote the interview. And Brian didn’t just “walk away”. Brian admitted we were right, then said it doesn’t matter anyway.

            If walking away isn’t concession, then I’ll leave now and let the discussion thus far speak for itself. But so far you’ve accused me of being “uncomfortable” and claimed I was wrong without actually quoting the interview, then posted a completely irrelevant news article.

            Do better, if it’s even possible.

          • Thomas Nichols
          • malcolmthecynic

            This is, of course, irrelevant to what we’re discussing.

          • James Scott

            If you actually read the Old Testament of the Bible sodomy and bestiality and incest and fornication and adultery are all lumped together in the same sections.

            So naturally a regular reader of the word like Phil will compartmentalize these sins after that pattern.

            Why is that remarkable? Still it is silly the gay fundamentalist lobby accuses this man of comparing gayness to animal wrongness & not regular sleeping around.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            I don’t think you’ve made up your mind. First you defend the linking of bestiality and gay sex as Biblical (i.e. so why is it odd he said this). Then you turn around and blame the “silly lobby” for accusing him of making this link. So, did he make the link and it’s justified? Or did the silly lobby invent the link? Funny logic that.

            The silly lobby didn’t need to make some outlandish accusation – they just quoted him. Yes, it’s biblical. So is stone your son and kill all the Midianite male infants and all the females that aren’t virgins. (How by the way, did they determine who was a virgin?) There’s also some brilliance in the Bible. This guy quoted the stupid immoral stuff. Yes, many of you think this way. And yes, many of the rest of us will continue to point out that some of it is incredibly immoral. If you’re so proud of the whole book including the awful parts, then be not surprised and claim not victimhood when the rest of us say, “my god that is some deeply immoral stuff.”

          • Hollis Stephen Matise

            No, Brian. That’s what YOU WANT him to have meant. Anyone with half a brain can see that their being grouped together “in the same sentence” was NOT an attempt to RELATE them to one another, EXCEPT to say that they’re BOTH SINS.

        • Steve

          Perhaps as you reread your posts you see in it the disconnect between the America as reported by media and what’s known as flyover country.

  • brianbrianbrian1

    My gosh this piece is frustrating.

    Do you really think it is a newsflash to journalists that Xns believe in sin? If so, try polling them. You don’t need an expensive poll…just phone a half dozen at random and ask them.

    What really happened here is this: the guy compared two women who love one another with a guy humping a donkey. So now here is the newsflash to Xns who cover the media and run this blog: many people (both Xns and non-Xns, including folks both for and against same-sex marriage) find that kind of comparison demeaning. If you make this comparison, it will garner comment.

    Here is the real irony: you depict this as showing the moral vacuum of the media (since they cannot seemingly contemplate sin). In reality, the response here is entirely a *moral display.* You may notice that the media has responded to the Pope quite differently. Why? Are they unaware that he opposes gay sex? Or that he might have notions of (gasp) sin? No. The issue is the pope responds with grace and decency in his disagreement whereas the Duck Dynasty guy responds like an ass. One is respectful, one is demeaning and degrading. Oh, I know, this would mean acknowledging that the media can have morals and that cannot. Possibly. Be. Right. (Sigh).

    Now, if you want a thoughtful analysis of this situation, check our Sarah Posner’s take. I assume you will grant that she “gets religion.”
    http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahposner/7458/

    • tmatt

      So as I said in the post, if he had skipped the rap-style sex talk, you think A&E and the press would have been fine with the sinners discussion?

      • brianbrianbrian1

        I am not sure comparing gays in love to bestiality is really rap-style. (Admittedly, I’m not up on my rap).

        But if you mean would a sensitive and respectful discussion involving the word “sin” get some attention, I’d say yes. When you discuss the hottest cultural issue around right now and you’re a celebrity, it will get attention. Similarly, if some major NFL player during the Tebow saga had said, “Xty is entirely wrong,” that would get news too. Say controversial things on hot button issues and the media will react.

        And, would you agree that the different response to the pope and this clown shows moral judgement by the media?

        • tmatt

          I will when the media respond to other rude, obnoxious clowns in a similar manner. Meanwhile, the press tends to quote Francis when they approve of his statements and ignore him when they disapprove. We will see how that goes.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            Well, that’s kind of disappointing tmatt. It sounds like you see that they perhaps did show some morals here but you have conditions to be met before you will acknowledge it. I’m not sure what kind of ethic that is. They acted fine so just grant them that.

            The media generally does notice rudeness especially on hot topics. See the awful Miley Cyrus or Rob Ford. What I gather is when they condemn rudeness from a self described Bible Thumper, that bothers you. I had hoped you were against rudeness period.

          • tmatt

            Nope. I’m pretty liberal on First Amendment issues. Always have been. I can live with quite a bit of heat in public debates.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            Come on. Surely you know that the First Amendment is about laws. No one suggested Duckman should go to prison. This is about someone being rude and being called on it. If you are fine with any speech, no matter how rude, and that folks should never be called on it, then what on earth is this whole blog about?

          • brianbrianbrian1

            First amendment protects you from going to jail. He’s not going to jail. Folks like Focus on the Family often organize boycotts of stores for supporting gays or even for saying Happy Holidays. Do you find that a violation of the first amendment? I’m just asking for some consistency.

        • malcolmthecynic

          When did he compare gays in love to bestiality?

          He compared gay sex to bestiality. He also compared gay sex to adultery.

      • tmatt

        Oh, and I totally agree that Mr. Duck spoke like an ass. We live in a culture in which about 50 percent of popular culture fits that description. Those alleged artists are rarely, however, fired. They usually get raises.

        So I would be interested in your take on the mainstream press’ views on sex outside of marriage. A pretty tolerant lot on that issue, since that was the point of my post?

        • brianbrianbrian1

          So you want the press to start condemning sex outside of marriage? That’s like me wanting Xns to say hell is an immoral idea. That is not an example of biased coverage but of wanting people to be other than who they are. Most members of the press likely don’t feel sex prior to marriage is wrong. Most people in Texas aren’t democrats. Or Muslims. That’s just how it is.

          • tmatt

            Nope. Just looking for the media to quote people on both sides of the sin debates accurately and fairly. But you knew that, of course.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            Did they quote him unfairly?

            And, to be honest, I know you’re into the culture and its view on sin, but sometimes you need to put on other folks shoes for a moment (not agree with them, just understand them). I don’t think they were “covering the sin debate.” That’s your axe. It’s much simpler as I’ve pointed out: a celebrity made deeply ignorant and insulting comments and the media covered it. See Ford, Rob or Sheen, Charlie. Did you honestly think some celeb could say something like this and there wouldn’t be a buzz about it?

            As for more accuracy and fairness, yes, precisely.

          • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com/ Crude

            a celebrity made deeply ignorant and insulting comments and the media covered it.

            What was ‘deeply ignorant’ here? The bluntest thing he said was talking about how he prefers vaginas to anuses and that ‘sin isin’t logical’. Other than that, he simply said that homosexual sex is sinful – and he also condemned not only bestiality, but just plain sleeping around, period.

            There was nothing deeply ignorant related to gays here – at most, there was one vulgar aspect. Now, someone may regard being told that same-sex sexual behavior is a sin. But so what? Are you saying it’s okay to fire someone for thinking that? That anyone who believes that and expresses it openly should be punished?

            If anyone was ignorant, it was GLAAD and the HRC in their accusations, and their bizarre claim that Robertson ‘didn’t represent real Christianity’ – as if the idea that same-sex sexual behavior is sinful has been shown to be false *even to Christians* beyond a shadow of doubt.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            I answered you above

          • Oswald Carnes

            How about the part (not included in this article – can’t imagine why) where Mr. Robertson claimed that black people were so happy before welfare that they weren’t singing the blues. Sounds pretty damn ignorant to me.

          • FW Ken

            Do you have a source for that claim? Given that Paula Dean lost her career for making a racial comment 30 year ago, I would be shocked if that weren’t wall to wall news.

            Or maybe you just made it up.

          • kjs

            Oswald is talking about an offset quote in the original GQ piece. The quote itself is given without really any context, as follows:

            “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.”

          • FW Ken

            Thank you, kjs.

            I’m still wondering why the media isn’t playing that up.

          • John Pack Lambert

            I think because no one quite knows what to make of it. It does not fit with “white privalage” to admit that there was a white underclass in the south that did not really benefit from segregation. It even less fits to admit that the only place in Metro Detroit that has seen large scale racial assimilation is Driggs, a neighborhood that was overwhelmingly inhabited by poor southern whites in 1990.
            The media works to keep an image of southern whites as racist, and if we see them hoeing shoulder to shoulder with the blacks, and the hoers being the ones who vote Republican today, it complicates things.

          • malcolmthecynic

            He was talking about his personal experiences. He wasn’t making a statement about the entire black community at large.

          • John Pack Lambert

            Well, if the NAACP was calling for Robertson to be punished that might be relevant. But they are not, so it isn’t.

    • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com/ Crude

      What really happened here is this: the guy compared two women who love one another with a guy humping a donkey.

      Never happened. Not once. He did no such thing.

      He compared same-sex sexual relations in general, to bestiality in general.

      Emphasis: sex. Not ‘loving one another!’ Sex. He was in fact pretty explicit about the act in question BEING sex.

      The fact is, GLAAD and the HRC are lying about what Robertson said, every bit as much as how the above – ‘Two women who love one another and a guy humping a donkey’ – is flat out dishonest. Read the interview: this doesn’t happen.

      • brianbrianbrian1

        Um, yes. That’s right. He compared same-sex relations to bestiality as you said. There’s the problem. Don’t worry about my rephrasing. That comparison is about as demeaning as you can get regarding someone else’s lover.

        • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com/ Crude

          Um, yes. That’s right. He compared same-sex relations to bestiality as you said.

          Take a nice, long look at the full quote:

          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.

          So he grouped homosexual sex with bestiality. Oops – he also grouped it with heterosexual sex. Idolatry. Prostitution. Greed. Drunkenness. Slander. Swindling.

          Don’t worry about my rephrasing.

          No, let’s worry about your rephrasing because it was dishonest. The issue was not ‘two women who love one another’ and how that is equivalent to having sex with a donkey. Also? Two women loving one another is not condemned in Leviticus, and it’s not condemned in the CCC of the Catholic Church.

          Sexual acts, are. Which is what Roberston zeroed in on. GLAAD and the HRC is dishonest in their portrayal of what Robertson said.

          That comparison is about as demeaning as you can get regarding someone else’s lover.

          No, because it’s not ‘the lover’ that’s being criticized but ‘the act’. Particularly, sexual acts.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            Crude, are you a lawyer? Stop picking on technicalities while ignoring the substance. Do you really think when I said two women loving each other that I was referencing the love of two sisters? Obviously, I mean two lesbians in a relationship. And, as you concur, he groups this with bestiality. (You take comfort that he throws in prostitution and idolatry…um, okay. You are still missing the main point – excuse the caps but you keep missing it – GROUPING THE PHYSICAL INTIMACY OF TWO GAY WOMEN WITH SCREWING AN ANIMAL REALLY OFFENDS MOST PEOPLE, including many who oppose homosexuality.) Your act/ person separation does not mitigate this. One is sex with a person; one is sex with an animal. Sorry, but for most of us, that is not a category. If it is for you, then, well, you just are never going to understand and the rest of us will continue to be appalled.

            Call it sin if you wish. But once you invoke animals, well, for the rest of us, that comparison is sin in big letters.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            Crude – I have written this like 10 times. Your distinctions are meaningful to you and not to those who disagree with you. That he grouped it not only with bestiality but with other things might mean something to you – it does not for others. And when I wrote two women loving each other, it clearly in this context includes sex. And Leviticus is pretty clear. Somewhere God says to kill gay men who lie with one another. I suspect historically that passage actually led to some gay men really being killed. Yes, many of us find this as immoral a passage as one could write (well, along with the pro slavery passages, but I digress).

            So, for others, your distinctions alleviate nothing. Please understand that I am not trying to convince you to change your view – I am just trying to say that you think there is some misunderstanding. You imply if we paid more attention to what he said, all would be fine. Um, no. What the guy said, even phrased your way, is for many of us, terribly insulting.

            This is not a misunderstanding. It’s a moral disagreement, pure and simple.

          • malcolmthecynic

            See, brian, this is called “moving the goalposts”.

            You said:

            “What really happened here is this: the guy compared two women who love one another with a guy humping a donkey.”

            We ALL pointed out:

            “You’re wrong.”

            You’ve admitted more than once now that, okay, he never compared “two women in love” to “humping a donkey”, but then claimed that this was never really the point anyway and we all KNOW it was offensive anyway. Even though you still have given no clear reason for you to believe it’s offensive except “Well, I said so originally, and I can’t well back out now”.

            Actually, there’s an even more accurate term for what you did, brian. And it’s a sin too. It’s called “lying”.

            You were wrong, and we wiped the floor with you. Digging yourself in deeper is not helping your cause.

          • kjs

            Yes, there is a moral disagreement. The moral disagreement is that some people think homosexual sex is always sinful while others think it is not necessarily sinful or may even be virtuous in certain contexts (i.e., in a mutually loving relationship between consenting adults of the same sex). But this disagreement is also compounded by the refusal of most people in the latter group to understand the mere mention of bestiality in a laundry list of sins including homosexuality is not necessarily intended to compare or equate homosexuality to bestiality, except insofar as both are sins. Anyone who agrees that both are sins cannot dispute that this low-level “comparison” is valid, if especially tactless in the present case.

        • kjs

          Crude’s comments are exactly on point. Mr. Robertson’s mention of homosexuality along with bestiality may be the source of the outrage, but in the same breath he mentioned plain old womanizing. Is anyone upset that he “compared” womanizing to bestiality? No. Is anyone upset that he “compared” greed, drunkenness, and idolatry (in Mr. Robertson’s case, worship of anything other than the Christian God) to bestiality? No. They’re only concerned that he has included homosexuality (together with bestiality) in his breviary of sin. Strinkingly, most seem to have missed another statement of his:

          “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

          How dare he compare alcoholics to terrorists?!

        • John Pack Lambert

          He mentioned homosexuality in a longer list of sins. The fact of the matter is he is expressing the religious views of the majority of Christians. If expressing our religious views is grounds for being fired, what jobs can we have?
          He may have done it in a crude way, but Robertson is neither sophisticated nor into deep nuances.
          Lastly, to most people who believe in the bible, all sexual relations outside of the marriage of a man and a woman are sinful, so they are similar.
          The constant attempt to say he compared “same-sex relationships” to “bestiality” is a lie. He never spoke of “same-sex relationships”, he was speaking of homosexual sex, the sex as such, not as part of a relationship.

          • brianbrianbrian1

            John, again, I know those kinds of distinctions are meaningful to you (just the sex was condemned, not the relationships), but they are not for most folks. The relationship, like the relationship between a husband and wife, includes physical intimacy. I’m not trying to convince you to see this differently, but rather, many of you think the issue here is some misunderstanding of what he said. No. The issue is that what he said is for many tremendously insulting.

            As for keeping one’s job – it depends what you do. He can still run his own enterprise or work at a zillion jobs where he lives. A&E made this guy famous. It is not a human right to be famous. When you are, there are unique pros and cons. Pros – big $, opportunities for him to speak at Saddleback, fame, hear your views on TV. Cons – loss of privacy, and controversial comments become a big deal. He chose to share his words with a big audience. Now he needs to own the consequences. A&E has made this guy rich so I don’t think he can whine too much.

    • The original Mr. X

      “Do you really think it is a newsflash to journalists that Xns believe in sin?”
      In my experience, at least, most people know, but don’t like to be reminded of the fact.

      • brianbrianbrian1

        There are all sorts of beliefs held by gays, atheists, Muslims, etc. that some Xns know and don’t like to be reminded of. So what?

        If he just spoke of sin, this would not have been a big deal. Heck, how surprising is it? The pope speaks of sin too. Bestiality? Now that’s a news item.

        • The original Mr. X

          “So what?”
          So it explains why people often act all shocked and offended when told something they already know.

  • tmatt

    Once again, the main point: Much of the Robertson commentary is, to me, very offensive and I choose not to watch the show, anyway. However, I think the media storm is driven by his comments about sex and sin. The sinner comments would have created the same firestorm.

    Meanwhile, I guess I sort of agree with Don Lemon at CNN:

    http://dailycaller.com/2013/12/19/gay-cnn-anchor-defends-duck-dynasty-star-i-dont-think-he-should-be-fired/

    • brianbrianbrian1

      tmatt – I know we have argued already but, more respectfully, I would humbly suggest this is not likely true. Had the guy said “sin” but not bestiality and not the offensive comments on race, I think it would have been mentioned briefly but not been a firestorm at all (a 20 second news spot sort of like the comments not long ago by Alec Baldwin). I mean honestly, how surprising is it that the guy objects to homosexuality?

      But if he dropped “sin” (used words like “wrong” instead) while still mentioning bestiality and the other stuff, then I think it still becomes a major story. The media know that Billy Graham, Rick Warren and the Pope all think gay sex is sinful. But none of these guys brings up animals. Bestiality is just extraordinarily insulting and demeaning. I would throw out another question – can you imagine a circumstance where connecting gays and bestiality is not going to create an uproar? I honestly cannot.

    • radiofreerome

      I think the objections aren’t to the fact that Robertson commented on sex and sin. The objections are to the fact that Robertson equated millions of people to a particular sexual act on the basis of how they were born not on how they live their lives. The objection is that Robertson is judged people on the way they were born rather than the content of their characters.

      The Love the Sinner Hate the Sin motto illustrates the fact that most of Christendom forces gays to chose between a life of silent despair and public humiliation and ostracism. It’s an act of integrity to choose the latter.

  • Nils

    Here’s a different take on the whole thing, and one that I think is in some ways fairer: http://ideas.time.com/2013/12/19/the-duck-dynasty-fiasco-says-more-about-our-bigotry-than-phils/

    Also read the comments discussing what else was in the GQ article.

    • FW Ken

      The Time article is good, but it’s worth noting that this site is for journalism critique, while the Time piece is opinion writing. The comments at Time, btw, are better than average, on both sides of the issue. That’s always encouraging.

      While I’m typing, it seems to me there’s a story in the several people who’ve lost jobs over things they have said – Paula Dean, Alec Baldwin, Martin Bashir, and now Mr. Duck (I love that). There’s a story in those and maybe other cases and how their employers handled them.

  • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

    What we need is not a media debate on someone’s off-the-wall comments about homosexuality That is a “red herring” and in some cases seems to be intended to intimidate Christians (and others) into silence. …

    • brianbrianbrian1

      I like how this Duck guy can call someone else sinful and even suggest they are not going to heaven, but when others get upset and respond, Christians are being “intimidated.” Some (not all) Xns pull this trick of insulting others and labelling it righteous but when the favour is returned, they claim persecution.

      I respect that you disagree with the people criticizing this Duck guy, but the criticizers are also acting from moral compulsion. They see his comments on both gays and blacks as insulting. And, I hope you might concur, many gays in human history have faced extraordinary persecution, often by Xns. So, what is going on here is a moral debate, plain and simple.

      • Jacobi Coriolanus

        His views are insulting to those groups and the responses of said people are insulting to Christians. Thats the price you pay for freedom of speech which means you don’t have a right not to be offended.

        People who say he shouldn’t have been taken off the air don’t get it either because A & E wouldn’t have done it if the law wasn’t on their side or he’d have one heck of a hefty lawsuit on his hands. Since the government hasn’t fined him or put him in jail the First Amendment isn’t an issue.

        The moral debate is that society is starting to deem what people can and can’t say in a way that is obtuse. Although the sarcasm of the author is probably intended for humor he raises a good point referring to Eminem because rap music is the reason we have parental warning labels on CD’s. People used profanity and made sexual references on albums for years but when 2 Live Crew started blasting “Me So Horny” all over the place for public consumption (derived itself from an R rated Stanley Kubrick movie with MPAA criteria for admission) there was a backlash over how easy it should be for anyone to access such speech.

        No one ever states what Phil said is pretty much a direct synopsis of 1 Corinthians 6:9, Christians are expressing concern their core source for religion is being placed on the same level as unacceptable obscene speech not fit for public consumption. No one is immune to criticism, and a number of people have been removed from their positions for comments they made off air or away from their posts. And if you read what Robinson’s critics are saying they don’t mind silencing anyone who dissents from their point of view because it is getting to the point that if you say something outside of Ivy League social science department curriculum you’re branded some kind of “ist” or “phobe” and declared untouchable. I’m going to drive down the street listening to Marilyn Manson or Snoop Dogg and Pat Robertson can suck it, and if I don’t like someone in an academically deemed protected category it might just be because they are a disagreeble person instead of some kind of institutional discrimination.

  • Thomas Nichols

    “Some people hold the doctrinal view that homosexuality, adultery and swindling are sinful.”, says Mollie.
    And some people who are actual journalists hold the procedural standard that false comparisons are a big no-no. A critic of journalism – even one who despises the current media climate – might want to pick up a bit of that self-awareness that she’s prescribing for everyone else.

  • Jacobi Coriolanus

    It amounts to this. The writers of national press outlets, GLAAD, and a number of people on the gay equality side have created the narrative that “anyone who does not support homosexuality is a bigot and if they really were Christian they would agree with us.” Christians en masse are reacting to this because they do not agree with this and can detect a massive popular movement reacting against their once unassailable religious dogma.

    Many have tried to hide behind the morals clause of Robinson’s contract to boil the issue as A & E’s discretion to take action against him, but he has responded that doesn’t matter because he is sincere about what he believes. Others have tried to say he was grouping homosexuals in bad company when in fact he was paraphrasing a verse from Corinthians that explicitly lists sins which god finds offensive.

    People have further obscured the argument by trying to make it a case of free speech when in fact Robinson’s freedom of speech has never been in jeopardy. It is merely the fact people have used it as a form of character assassination to vocalize that anyone who does not believe a certain paradigm is ignorant, uneducated, or hateful. However the reason for the mass backlash is that for that charge to go uncontested would mean ALL literalist Christians are those things, a premise which obviously millions of people do not accept.

    Behind the fog of religious persecution, politically correct public commentary, a false narrative about contractual terms and conditions, and the overall state of morality in the United States is nothing more than this – newspeak is being enforced in the public domain and the court of public opinion does not feel there is a unanimous verdict that replicating scripture is hate speech in this country yet. Its just a sign that traditional Christianity is still too pervasive in the US since liberal reformers use it as a fig leaf for their obvious deviation from longstanding social mores and the widespread outcry among Biblical literalists at public criticism of accurate statements according to religious dogma.

    The only critics of Robinson who even understand this correctly are those who a) accept the premise that homosexual rights fall under federal protection despite opposition from those who disagree and supercede the right to dissent (as is the current case with slavery, interracial marriage, and women’s inherent legal subservience as examples of social doctrines in scripture which now face near universal condemnation when advocated) b) therefore the problem is Christianity itself which cannot be reconciled with the determination that altering tax and marriage codes to grant equality towards homosexuals is mutually favorable.

    • The original Mr. X

      “People have further obscured the argument by trying to make it a case of free speech when in fact Robinson’s freedom of speech has never been in jeopardy.”
      The government’s not the only thing which can limit people’s freedom of speech. If you can’t speak your mind without getting fired, your freedom of speech is being limited.

      • Jacobi Coriolanus

        A lot of liberals have been fired by liberal companies for making statements that weren’t in keeping with the policies of their employers. The US military restricts what statements you can make. Thats not the same thing as freedom of speech, people can contribute their money however they want or worship or meet but your words can have consequences on your employment. You have the opportunity to work, you don’t have the right to a job.


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