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It’s a Duck Dynasty Christmas

Liberal Alec Baldwin had a show on MSNBC for a very short time. He called a paparazzo who was harassing him and his family a “cocksucking fag”. Baldwin was swiftly suspended, then fired, from MSNBC. The right sort of shrugged, torn between its animus for Alec Baldwin on the one hand, and gays on the other. 

Liberal Martin Bashir had a show on MSNBC. He criticized Sarah Palin for likening the national debt to “slavery” by explaining what, precisely, slavery was. Specifically, he explained how the complete control of the master led oftentimes to unspeakably horrific treatment of his chattel labor – in one case, scatalogically so. Bashir said Palin should see what slavery really was before making such ignorant comparisons, and that a slavemaster should shit in her mouth. There was an outcry from Palin and the right. Bashir was suspended from MSNBC. He apologized. Palin accepted the apology. He left the network anyway. The right wing was outraged and demanded Bashir’s removal from TV. 

Some bearded person on a so-called “reality” show about very wealthy redneck manufacturers of duck calls has said some hateful and ignorant things about gay people and black people. A&E has suspended him. The right wing have gone ballistic, calling this a PC witch hunt and otherwise bemoaning the degradation of Biblical values, apple pie, Chevrolet, bearded freaks, and hate speech. Duck Dynasty guy equated homosexuality with bestiality and terrorism. He said the blacks had it better under Jim Crow, when they didn’t bitch to him (a white guy) about anything. 

Pretty base, ignorant stuff there. Well within the same wheelhouse as Bashir’s and Baldwin’s misdeeds. (I will note for consistency-lovers that I have not defended Bashir or Baldwin in any way, in any forum, and that I had no complaint of any sort when either of them were fired. To me, talking-head cable shows are a huge part of what is killing American discourse and thought, and I’d just as soon see them all gone.)

But we live in a nation that is sick beyond help – not because of the infiltration of the “gay lifestyle”, but because ignorant bullshit has gone mainstream

Never one to miss a chance for publicity, Sarah Palin posted on Facebook: “Free speech is an endangered species. Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on theDuck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.” (Only Palin could claim that a person who has just voiced intolerant comments like Robertson is being attacked by “intolerants.”)  

Of course, when Martin Bashir made despicable comments about Palin, she didn’t defend him by saying, “Free speech is an endangered species.” Nope, instead she slammed Bashir’s comments as being “vile” and “evil.” And officials at Palin’s political action committee demanded that MSNBC punish Bashir.

First of all, the First Amendment right to free speech was not invoked in any of these cases. The Constitution limits the government’s power – not MSNBC’s, and not A&E’s. Bashir, Baldwin, and Duck Person are all entitled to think and say exactly everything they want. The networks on which they appear are likewise entitled to air, praise, condemn, or remove anything they see fit. 

Secondly, if you believe that Baldwin and Bashir should have been fired, consistency and fairness begs you to think the same of Duck Dynasty guy. If you think that Baldwin and Bashir should both be on MSNBC, then A&E should be boycotted. 

I have seen arguments defending Duck Dynasty guy because he was just repeating what the Bible has to say about, e.g., gay people suffering eternal damnation for their heinous crimes against God. That’s nice. But just because your holy book or religion says a thing doesn’t make it right, does it? Are we to excuse every ignorant and hateful thing that any religion has to say? Like I said, you can believe whatever you want – but when you equate homosexuality to terrorism, you have every right to be accountable for your words – to suffer consequences. Like when you call a photographer a “cocksucking fag”. Like when you suggest that a public figure should have someone shit in her mouth. 

The right wing didn’t have much to say about Alec Baldwin, after all. The only thing they brought up was that GLAAD were hypocrites because they didn’t condemn him (they did). It’s ok to defame gay people if you’re conservative, after all. Not just ok – encouraged. When Duck Dynasty guy defames gay people (and blacks), and gets suspended, they are outraged. When it’s Alec Baldwin, they shrug. To me, defaming gay people is wrong, full stop. 

A few months ago, “cook” Paula Deen was effectively drummed out of show business because her long history of racist thoughts and words came to light. Now, there is a miniature store selling her cookbooks and spatulas in a largely empty plaza in right-wing Clarence. She became a hero to the right because, evidently, saying ignorantly anachronistic things about black people is ok, because “free speech”. Similarly, Duck Dynasty  guy is cheered on the right for saying ignorantly anachronistic things about gays and blacks. 

I don’t see how – and it’s the Christmas season, incidentally – a time of love and cheer – nominal Christians and “conservatives” can go around defending people who have so much hatred in their hearts, thoughts, and words. If conservatism means preserving age-old hatreds, jealousies, and slanders then I don’t quite get why so many people would call themselves that. 

If Duck Dynasty guy is smart, he’ll apologize, A&E will reinstate him, and he can cash out what remains of his 15 minutes of fame. From the looks of it, he and his kin are digging in, standing firm, and telling those “cocksucking fags” and liberals to piss off and, literally, go to hell. 

Merry Christmas. 

 


  • Scott Whitmire

    Truthfully, this whole thing seems less about tolerance/bigotry or consistency/hypocrisy and more about counting coup. “Did you hear what Bashir said? Get him!!” “Duck Dynasty-gone!”

  • Mike_Chmiel

    Wouldn’t have been refreshing if, just once, prominent conservatives just said, “You know, that guy is a cretin and his beliefs are in no way a part of legitimate political discourse. We are now going to return to slamming Obamacare.”

    Instead, we got the usual, “People on the Liberal team are are angry at Duck Dynasty! I am on the Conservative team so I have to be on the opposite side of this argument!” For them, politics is roughly equivalent to mindlessly cheering on the local sports team.

    • Black Rock Lifer

      These are the same conservative “leaders” that stayed silent while outrageous claims were regularly made about the president. Obama wasn’t born here, he’s a secret Muslim, he’s a socialist, he hates America, he’s not one of us, he wants to destroy “our” America, etc. Allowing these lies to circulate was a strategy to feed the ignorant base in the hope of gleaning a few more votes from the least informed citizens. This is not just despicable but demonstrates just how desperate the right has become in attempting to hold on to their ever shrinking share of voters. I think this strategy has back-fired, appealing to crazy and hateful people can have consequences, see the tea party fiasco as evidence.

      • UncleBluck

        The truly sad thing here is that these conservatives saying these things are only mimicking/mirroring the ideas of the people that elect them which apparently makes up a large portion of the voting population…….and apparently these same people like watching TV shows about ZZ Top impersonators who make duck calls for a living…..The latter I’m guessing as I have never watched the show…..

  • LancasterNY

    hate speech is not acceptable and should not be glorified. Would it still
    be “free speech” if they were targeting disabled children or elderly? We need to stop the hate.

  • jamesholstun

    The decisions of A&E and MSNBC have nothing to do with free speech
    and everything to do with an estimation of market impact. The truly rare thing is hearing somebody argue loud and long for free speech he or she disagrees with–not just refraining from defending somebody on “our” side (Alan Bedenko’s inaction with regard to Baldwin and Bashir), but forcefully criticizing those on our side who attempt to censor them. On the related matter of academic freedom–it’s amazing to see how few professors will stand up for the academic freedom of fellow professors with whom they disagree.

  • pipedream

    You, sir, either did not read the Phil Robertson quotes or are deliberately distorting what he said. He never equated homosexuality with bestiality. He gave a list of things he thought were sinful after being asked – I’m sure it was a partial list. He never said blacks were better off before Jim Crow days. He was giving his first-hand experience living and working with blacks before the civil-rights movement in his neck of the woods. There is no intellectual honesty in your commentary if you cannot see the difference between a expressing a philosophical viewpoint, a religious belief, describing a first hand experience during a one-on-one conversation and spewing hatred and slurs at named individuals.

    • From the GQ Article:

      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.”

      1. He equates the entire black race with “white trash”.

      2. The blues as a musical art form was essentially born out of the discrimination and hard lives that black people had in the South.

      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.”

      Well, he did equate homosexuality with bestiality, adultery, idolatry, male prostitution, greed, drunkenness, etc. I mean, it couldn’t be clearer.

      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?”

      Homosexuality is also just like terrorism.

      • pipedream

        I read it this way – Phil says he was white trash. He and the blacks he observed shared the same low social status. He and they made the best of it. They were both working for the farmers (who presumably had a higher status than the workers). If there was hardship and mistreatment, Phil didn’t see it as he picked cotton side by side with black workers. That’s hate speech? That’s equating the entire black population with white trash? You can’t believe that.

        And the expression “singing the blues” is a common expression to indicate complaining or in this case, lack of complaining about one’s circumstances. Not a statement about the origination of blues music as an art form.

        If you understood the Bible, you would realize that it does not teach that there are “good sins” and “bad sins”. SIN is SIN. In that sense, ALL SIN equals ALL OTHER SIN. One sin of any stripe is enough to require repentance and the need for a Savior. Nothing more. Nothing less.

        And stating that God would sort them (the list of sinners) all out in the end is in no way saying homosexuality is just like terrorism.

      • Many Muslims believe that their holy book justifies blowing themselves up to kill people. You must think it’s ok, because it’s in their holy book and we should all just accept that and move on.

      • pipedream

        Apparently you are out of logical arguments. Have a good night.

      • Know Saint

        Hey pipedream: You are defending the indefensible. But who would be surprised???

        Reading your replies here, and some of your past posts, you project the same un-Christian mindset as Robertson; and Fred Phelps, Vladimir Putin, the leaders of Uganda, and all the rest of the intolerant proselytizers.

        You all could learn a lesson from Pope Francis.

        pipedream: You cloak your superiority in the Bible and proselytize bits and pieces of same, yet you ignore vast passages that would put you and the above proselytizers smack dab in with the people you want to “save.”

        Get a fucking life pipedream!

        Hey pipedream, did you ever have lust in your eye for someone who you are not married to? Then you better gouge your eyes out, according to the Bible of course. Don’t you recall that the Bible was used to defend slavery? Or to deny women the right to vote??? Gee, I could write an entire article about that, LOL.

        I love your comment from awhile back, LOL, which says it all about your agenda: “I am a white evangelical and so are most of my friends – and fellow church members, and pastor were vehemently pro-Romney – most of us volunteering and donating $$. Everyone I know voted for him – our county went for Romney something like 85-90%.”

        I would LOVE to follow you around for just one day to point out the scores of Biblical infractions you commit. Oh, but they don’t count because you are a “white evangelical.”

        Of course constitutionally, Robertson has every right to say whatever he wants concerning these matters, but so does A&E. The more you “peel the onion” that is Phil Robertson (and his family) the more you find intolerance, “sin,” un-Christianity, and plain old evil!!!!

    • Jason Pontillo

      So, there’s no room for innuendo or bootstrapping, along with false equivocation, in language? These are all just flat statements without connotation or coding? He isn’t harkening back on a type of minstrel act of singing “blacks” working in the fields, some mock spiritual like “Coal Black an de Seben Dwarfs,” while trying to include some derision by bringing up entitlement and welfare, as though social programs are exclusively used by one segment of the population (wink wink nudge nudge)? He isn’t being sly when he leaves off the “kill ’em” from “kill ’em and let God sort it all out” (Then the nice touch, “you see what I’m saying”). Because, you know, we can still be explicit, even when we speak out the sides of our mouths. Like so many online defenders who in one breath say he isn’t saying anything hateful, while in the next endorsing the idea that non-hetero peoples are deviant, and without any redemptive human quality. And that is the problem, ultimately, that he is bemoaning that his ick factor doesn’t extend to the legal realm–though, check, and Louisiana does have laws against non-hetero sex acts. And not to be glib, but his nonsense about where the penis goes kinda overlooks how many boyfriends and husbands like oral sex from their girlfriends and wives. Anyway, this reeks of tl;dr

  • rhmaccallum

    I never watch this old goat. I thought at first it was Papa Smurf gone zombie. Bedenko makes a good case, well thought out, clear and concise.
    On the other hand it would be nice in all these cases from Baldwin to Bashir, Dean to the Duck Guy if people were more like ducks and let a little water roll off their backs. Have a little tolerance or at least some proper respect for other’s opinions and beliefs…and how they speak and misspeak.
    After all, this only happens to white people. Any rapper talking rape and shit is fine…so it seems.
    We don’t have to watch or listen to any of these people. We don’t have to buy their product. If you don’t like them or have respect that other people have the right to be wacko, have off the wall views and beliefs or be just plain stupid…don’t support them.
    Then again it’s trendy to demand jobs and take away livelihoods. It’s modern entertainment, this sort of thing.

  • jimd54

    I hate this kind of crap. Thank God I’m an atheist. Merry Christmas to all.

  • Ennui2778

    In fairness to Clarence, the Paula Deen store was going up long before we all discovered that Paula Deen lived in 1856.

    That’s all I have to say. Merry Christmas y’all.