Here’s my breakdown of the Phil Robertson brouhaha, and of all the culture-war posturing that has resulted in its wake:
• Phil’s freedom of speech has in no way been infringed. He spoke his mind, and both critics and defenders have exercised their speech in return. That’s no travesty — if anything, this is what makes America great.
• Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom of consequence from that speech. We’re all responsible for the things we say, and must be prepared to deal with any adverse effects they have upon family, friends, employers and the public.
• A&E didn’t suspend Phil because of his religio-political stance. Obviously, the network thought his conservative Christian family was ratings gold to start with. His suspension arose from the specific nature of his comments, which A&E thought might be damaging to the brand. It was a business decision.
• His comments aren’t worth defending either biblically or sociologically. Selective quoting of scripture to justify bigotry is as old as the Bible itself, and does much to diminish the holy book for those who might otherwise be open to its more positive teachings. As for equating homosexual love to bestiality, that has no grounding either in the Bible or in reality. Phil’s remarks on gays and blacks are indefensible, period. Those who know and love the man don’t have to throw him under the bus, but neither should they feel obligated to condone ignorance and hate in his name.
• I doubt Phil has lost a single fan as a result of his comments. His defenders will defend him and his detractors were probably detracting already. And it’s not likely that anyone, pro or con, is surprised at Phil’s stance. (Judging by the sympathy movement I’ve seen already, I’d say his fan base just got stronger.) So chances are, this will blow over, Phil will land back on Duck Dynasty in short order and this incident will be mostly forgotten. And/or he could hit the values circuit and command big money. But even if the worst-case scenario occurs and Phil never lives this down, he’s always got that multimillion-dollar duck-call business to fall back on, bankrolled largely by people who enthusiastically agree with his comments. And even if that doesn’t pan out for some reason, he’s still got more money in the bank right now — never mind the royalties from multiple revenue streams constantly pouring in — than most of us will ever earn for the rest of our lives. That’s an exponentially better fate than most of us face, regardless of whether or not we run our mouths.