'Duck Dynasty' star should have kept his bill shut

Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander, holding the 1

Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander, holding the 1 millionth duck call assembled for 2013 at the company's warehouse in West Monroe, La. (Nov. 7, 2013) (Credit: AP)

Ellis Henican

Newsday columnist Ellis Henican Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a

bio | email

Yes, you can be fired for saying dumb stuff outside work. And please, don't go yelping about the First Amendment. It won't protect you for a second from a private employer's ax.

Swamp-TV star and backwoods theologian Phil Robertson just learned that lesson the hard way.

Papa Phil's been suspended indefinitely from A&E's popular "Duck Dynasty" for being a couple of degrees more ignorant than his character on TV, opining on male and female body parts, equating homosexuality with promiscuity and bestiality, then citing the Book of Corinthians to support his crude analogies.

POLL: Should "Duck Dynasty" be canceled?

PHOTOS: Reality show families | 100 most influential shows

MORE: Robertson off "Duck Dynasty" | Filler: Suspension isn't censorship | "Duck Dynasty" family pens bestsellers

"Extremely disappointed," the cable network declared, " . . . based on his own personal beliefs . . . no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community."

You can't say A&E executives didn't get what they deserved. They hire a proudly redneck loudmouth, love his mega-ratings, then get all huffy when he talks to GQ like a loudmouth redneck.

But there is something else at play here, and this is where Phil's beloved hickishness served him poorly. While the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch was squabbling with his Louisiana relatives and making his Duck Commander duck calls, he failed to recognize that the rest of America had changed.

Big companies like A&E, owned by Hearst and Disney-ABC, have grown far more jumpy about offending not just their audiences but also their employees, shareholders, regulators and advertisers. The network's making money off Phil's down-market kin. But is it worth risking an empire for?

The immediate answer was no, and Phil was suddenly back in the duck-call shed, plotting his future with the cameras off.

DUCK BLIND

1. Sitting duck

2. Lame duck

3. Duck and cover

4. Just ducky

5. Dead duck

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Do tuitions seem low at Long Island's private colleges? No? Well, at least they won't be racing higher next year at Hofstra, Adelphi, Molloy, St. Joseph's College or LIU Post, howling parents are being told . . . What made longtime medical marijuana foe Andrew Raia come out now for doc-pot? Will the East Northport assemblyman's explanation -- our neighbor states are doing it -- sway reluctant Albany Republicans? . . . Who invented the term "deer harvesting"? Will it ease any of the East End outrage over February's sharpshooter deer kill? . . . Now that ex-LIRR union boss Joseph Rutigliano is on his way to 8 years in the federal pen, how many of his alleged co-conspirators will be joining him behind bars? Prosecutors say Insider Joe helped hundreds -- yes, hundreds -- of railroad employees file for sham disability pensions . . . Did they tax too much or spend too little? Whichever it is, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says the New Suffolk Common School District and the Quogue Union Free School District are hoarding too much money in the bank . . . What do you call two flights a week from eerily quiet ISP to Fort Myers? A start, right? Thank you, Allegiant, for the $99 Florida round-trips.

THE NEWS IN SONG: She said, "Well anyway," just dying for a subject change: "My Stupid Mouth" by John Mayer, tinyurl.com/hushyour

LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK

VICTORIA PLUMITALLO

Seven Decembers ago, when Victoria Plumitallo was 8, she persuaded her parents, Mike and Hope, to help her gather toys for needy children. The girl didn't think it was right that some kids went without at Christmas. And so began the Sunshine Toy Drive. Each year since, volunteer personal shoppers at the Dix Hills fire station have helped struggling parents choose the exact right toys, which are then lovingly gift-wrapped, yes, by volunteers. They did on Friday, a little girl's dream living again. Who says one kid can't make a difference? Who says generosity isn't its own reward?

Email ellis@henican.com

Follow on Twitter @henican