For the latest edition of GQ, set to hit newsstands this January, 2014, the popular men’s magazine decided to severely lower their standards by featuring an exclusive interview with “reality” TV’s flavor-of-the-month Pat… I mean, Phil Robertson. He is one of the cast members from A&E‘s hit show ‘Duck Dynasty‘, a show that has so far cashed in millions of dollars by appealing to the simple-mindedness of a large portion of the American public. (*) (While A&E is short for Arts and Entertainment, this show has neither.) But while the show has been nothing but smooth-sailing for the shows cast members, an array of bigoted comments from GQ‘s interview with the 67-year old Robertson is threatening to throw all that into disarray.
The comments which have stirred up such a tremendous amount of controversy ironically came in response to a question addressed to Robertson about what he believes constitutes “sinful behavior”. From that point the entire interview turned into an old man’s endless tirade against seemingly every group which came to his mind, including gay people, Japanese people, Black people, Muslims, non-Christians, anything you could name. “Everything is blurred on what’s right,” according to Robertson.
“Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and these men. 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…
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.”
There are so many things wrong with the above statement that it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, to equate being a homosexual with being an adulterer, slanderer, prostitute, swindler or sex offender implies that someone is getting hurt or being forced into something against their will. Who is the victim when two grown individuals of the same sex consent to physically intimate relations with each other to gain a sense of pleasure? No one is, but I suspect that Robertson and others who peddle the notion that there is are aware of this, but they intentionally confuse the issue in order to make it easier for them to condemn homosexuality and those who engage in it. It’s also quite odd (or very telling) that he singles out “male prostitutes” and “homosexual offenders” for particular condemnation rather than simply denounce “prostitutes” and “offenders” in general. What are we to make of this? Is it that “female prostitutes” and “heterosexual offenders” will be inheriting the ‘Kingdom of God’? And lastly, I’m relatively certain that most straight or heterosexual men have never given that much thought into what gay sex must be like! He is really graphic here when he talks about how “a vagina would be more desirable” to enter vs. “a man’s anus”! Am I wrong when I say that most straight men haven’t thought that long and hard about it?
Up next he felt it necessary to offer his “expert” commentary on race relations as he saw them growing up in the rural South vs. what they are today:
“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, [not] 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.”
We can only hope this man is never asked to serve on a jury for a trial in which there’s either a Black defendant or victim. Obviously, he doesn’t see it fit to actually talk or listen to what Black people themselves have to say about their own experiences. Somehow he imagines that whatever he sees and how he sees it constitutes how well Black people are doing and feeling at any particular moment in time. That he would invoke “entitlements” and “welfare” (which is most often used as a racist term in the United States) to make the absurd point that Black people were so much better off under Jim Crow segregation just shows that he’s swallowed hook, line, and sinker every bit of negative stereotypical piece of racist propaganda that’s been put out over the years.
If it wasn’t obvious by now that his idea of the “Kingdom of God” is little more than a conservative white Christian utopia, this last comment makes it official:
“Look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh. Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists? Zero […]Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.”
Now why is this guy purportedly considered a genius again? First of all, what religion if not Christianity did the majority of German Nazis practice? Christianity had been the dominant religion in Germany long before the Nazis came to power and continued during the Nazis’ reign and after. The notion that Germany didn’t know of Jesus is demonstrably false, as is the claim that Christian churches didn’t endorse their rise to power. As far as his claim that Shintos bear responsibility for the attack on Pearl Harbor, then by the same logic Christians bear responsibility for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In fact, if we are to take his statement about looking “at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups” seriously, then perhaps someone should kindly inform him that the numbers he mentions are far outnumbered by the millions of deaths caused by the enslavement and genocides committed against peoples of both African and Native American descent – all of which were specifically done under the banner of Christianity while claiming to be spreading the Word of Jesus Christ! This is not meant to be an indictment of Christianity at all; I’m only demonstrating that no religion has a monopoly on murder or terrorism, certainly not Christianity.
He also made a statement which on the surface reads like he may be backtracking somewhat, but taken into full account it appears to be little more than a sorry attempt to put a smiling face on what are truly abominable beliefs:
“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.”
The reactions to his comments were incredibly swift on all sides. The amount of hatred, disgust, ignorance and bigotry underlying Robertson’s comments prompted a joint response from the respective leaders of the country’s most prominent gay rights and civil rights organizations, the Human Rights Campaign and the NAACP, which was addressed to the President and Chief Executive Officer of A+E Networks on December 18th. It reads, in part:
“We want to be clear why Phil Robertson’s remarks are not just dangerous but also inaccurate. Mr. Robertson claims that, from what he saw, African Americans were happier under Jim Crow. What he didn’t see were lynching and beatings of black men and women for attempting to vote or simply walking down the street. And his offensive claims about gay people fly in the face of science. In fact, it’s important to note that every single leading medical organization in the country has said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being LGBT – it’s not a choice, and to suggest otherwise is dangerous.”
Not long afterward, A+E Networks responded that they were “extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series ‘Duck Dynasty’. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.” That response sparked predictable outrage in conservative circles. Quick to jump to his defense was Louisiana’s clusterfuck of a governor, Bobby Jindal, who, reminiscing on times that only existed in his imagination, commented, “I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment: it is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.” This comparison is not particularly helpful, considering there wasn’t anything humorous about what Robertson said, and MTV Networks and A+E Networks are not the same company and according to his own logic – that private corporations should be able to act as they please without any sort of government-imposed regulations – A&E should have the right to suspend Robertson if they see it fit. And then there’s the half-term Alaska governor/ ‘reality’-TV queen herself, Sarah Palin, who never met a bigot she wouldn’t defend. She commented on her Facebook that “those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.” I wonder if she is aware that “intolerants” isn’t a word. I’m guessing she meant “intolerance.” In Rush Limbaugh’s mind it doesn’t matter if the comments were offensive simply because the “the gay population that’s supposedly offended here is, max, 2 percent. [Whereas] the Christian population is 250 million so the market is going to reflect that at some point.” Millions of the show’s fans have also weighed in and have launched a number of online petitions. Their words have launched Robertson to the status of a conservative martyr who stands up for “biblical traditional family values.” Or, as one of the show’s dedicated fans, Rick Peter, says, they’re “tired of that pro-gay sentiment that’s out there in the media and it’s time to fight back.” Lost amid the exaggerated “First Amendment” outrage is the fact that no one has stifled Phil Robertson’s right to free speech. He still has his business and the GQ magazine interview is still available online and is set to appear in print next month. In the meantime, as we approach the year 2014, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people can still be potentially fired for their sexual orientation or identification in 29 States of the Union. Louisiana, where the Robertson family resides, is one of them.
In conclusion, I’d like to personally take on one of Mr. Robertson’s assertions, that gay people won’t “inherit the kingdom of God.” If he and people with exclusionary viewpoints are truly representative of what is to be found in the kingdom of God, I’m willing to bet there are a lot of people who would just as soon not go. Speaking as someone who is in fact gay, I’ve dealt with enough hatred and bigotry in my time here on earth that I have no desire to still be facing off against it in the afterlife.
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ star makes anti-gay comments; GLAAD slams
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ Controversy: Louisiana Gov. Defends Phil Robertson
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ Fans React to Robertson’s Hiatus
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ ignites culture war as boycott looms
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ Star’s Gay Bashing Isn’t His Worst Crime
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ family stands by suspended patriarch
Additional reads from around the Net:
- The Real Duck Dynasty Scandal: Phil Robertson’s Comments on Race
- Jesse Jackson: Phil Robertson more offensive than Rosa Parks driver
- When You Defend Phil Robertson, Here’s What You’re Really Defending
- *The show has somehow managed to pull in as many as 12-15 million viewers for the premiere of a single episode. But as far as I can tell the show has no plot. Entertainment Weekly comments, however, that “Duck Dynasty has managed to call itself a ‘reality’ series with a straight-face despite the story lines being clearly guided.”