Saturday, December 21, 2013

Duck Phil Platypus

Duck Phil Platypus is the perfect title for this article because the Phil Robertson story is one of the ugliest I have seen in a very long time. I'm not sure if by the time this fades into the twilight of news that anyone will have been correct. For the most part this is much ado about nothing. But since it has become something there is a lot that needs to be said.

Let's start by quoting some of his comments:

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.”

Phil is referring to the days of share croppers and where blacks lived on the farms where they worked. Farms varied greatly, as did the houses in which the black workers lived. Some houses were relatively nice, while some were no more than roughly built shacks. This sounds to also be during the days of Jim Crow laws. Were southern blacks happy? Likely for the most part, but we must ask – Were they equal? Not even close.

Was the life of a share cropper easy? Life was harsh for the share cropper no matter if you were black or white. But people worked hard and managed to survive. A few sharecroppers even managed to make enough to eventually buy their own land. Some used the success to created a business outside farming. Life in the 50's rural south were rarely easy. No matter if a person was black or white it took hard work to survive.

Phil and I are near the same age. I was a senior in school as I watched blacks ripped from their own school and forced into a too small school with a bunch of white people who were just as disgruntled. I watched as blacks and whites attacked one another with fists and clubs. I truly didn't see a lot of happy black people. I saw people who had been forced by a political system to give up their long held traditions in a misguided effort of forced equality. As a teenager I was completely confused by the things I saw. Despite being raised by a racist and bigoted father, I had a mother who was raised in poverty and taught me to judge people as individuals.

This was a period during the Vietnam war – a war that few people understood. Most, black and white, only knew that their sons were leaving home and never coming back. The late 60's and early 70's were virulent times. Those were times of change. This was also the dawn of the welfare state. The results are still in the making – so far it's not a pretty picture.

I had intended to write this about Phil's gay comments since they seemed to be the ones that caused the most drama, but I found the ones about blacks more thought provoking. Let's begin by quoting the comments of most interest.

“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.”

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

GQ: What, in your mind, is sinful?

“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.”

These are words you'll hear from almost any Christian. Pretty much everything is a sin it seems, but those are usually at the top of the list. Phil is who he is and will continue to be that person – like him or not. I dare say someone from a northern city might have said the same thing and no one would have cared. There is a certain discrimination for southerners when it comes to speech. We know that from the Paula Deen incident where she was fired for a twenty year old comment. It has become clear people aren't treated equally for their speech.

A&E had a decision to make. I can only guess what might have been behind their decision. It could have been because one of the top executives has a gay child, or might be gay themselves and took offense at being called a sinner. It could have been as simple as a company knowing it's demographics. Even though Duck Dynasty has great ratings, it is only one show of a large and popular network. Time will be the gauge as to if A&E's decision was the correct one for them.

There is a reason the gay community is sensitive to remarks like Phil's. Gay youths and adults have suffered everything from abusive language to mortal beatings simply because they were born differently. Even if some choose to believe being gay isn't something that is a result of birth, they often belief it's a mental illness. In either case gays are Americans.

This is a free country and people are free to say and be who they please. There are often consequences for that speech or simply being themselves. You can say things in peer groups that can't be said openly. People have been punched or beaten for practicing their free speech. The same has happened to people who by chance of birth were born in the wrong town and are openly gay.

The 1st Amendment only guarantees that government can't limit your speech, but as we all know if you call your neighbor an SOB there are likely to be consequences. This is why we often guard our speech as to anger as few people as possible. Phil stated his belief and we all as Americans should offer him support. GLAAD( Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and A&E also stated their beliefs, which should also be respected. Respecting speech doesn't mean you must agree.

I should add that GLAAD doesn't and cannot speak for all gays. I see their actions as a disservice to the gay community. There are a lot of people who will blame all gays for what they say and do. This is for the same reason all Christians or Baptists shouldn't be blamed for the actions of Westboro Baptist.

This entire episode in the scheme of things has been blown completely out of proportion. The country is facing economic collapse. We have a government that refused to give a cost of living increase to veterans who fought for this country. Yet the biggest topic is of some millionaire family that might have to move their show to a different network, or discontinue it all together. If people want to watch families like the Robertson's, move to the rural south – they are likely to be your neighbors.

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