“Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson has an absolute and unqualified constitutional right to speak his mind. We all do. What we don’t have is a constitutional right to a job, or the use of someone else’s microphone and media platform.
Robertson was suspended from his family’s show indefinitely Wednesday, because of comments he made about homosexuality in an article set to appear in GQ, primarily. He also unleashed a set of pretty odd opinions on race relations and the relative rights and happiness quotient of black people, but that’s getting a lot less play.
So first there was the backlash against Robertson from the gay, lesbian and generally progressive community. Then the suspension by A&E. Then the backlash from the conservative community, and the “Duck Dynasty” viewing community, that Robertson is being stifled and his rights trampled upon.
To be clear, A&E is a business and is acting as one, just as the Food Network was when it axed Paula Deen for long-ago racial slurs, and just as MSNBC was when it turned on Martin Bashir after he said some very inflammatory things about Sarah Palin.
It’s about profit. If they think the best way to maintain their profits is to knock folks off the air, they do. That’s all.
There are a lot of things I have the freedom to say on my Facebook page or my Twitter account that I still can’t say if I want to keep my job. I am at liberty to express myself as I see fit, and my boss is at liberty to send me packing. That’s true of all of us, really.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out. I’m guessing A&E will have Robertson, who has already apologized, back on the air pretty quick. “Duck Dynasty” fans may be a lot angrier about his absence than a bunch of political and demographic groups that are approximately zero percent of the show’s audience were about his comments.
But there’s no morality in any of this, and no censorship either. It’s just business, and profit, and it’s all as fair as can be.