And good riddance.
Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty reality television show, recently did an interview in GQ — yes, Gentlemen’s Quarterly — wherein he described how his evangelical Christian beliefs come into conflict with the idea that some people might be gay in an absolutely offensive display of what many Christians really do believe. His TV show on A&E about his family of conservative rednecks — who became rich after he built an empire on the Duck Commander duck lures — now faces the terrible wrath of public opinion.
When my sister heard the news that he’d given his interview in GQ, and that GLAAD had publicly denounced his words, she posted a link on her Facebook wall. One of her friends — an ex co-worker apparently — swanned in to drop this steaming pile of opinion on her wall about how terrible it was… that anyone was asking A&E to reconsider hosting this douchenozzle’s opinion.
This seems a bit….puffed up. The comments he made are not even close to being “the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication.” that I have seen.
Furthermore, this next one isn’t even hateful, it is just a statement of opinion.
“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.”
He even states that it is not his or anyone elses place to judge peopel on it, that only God has that right.
“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?”
Yea, he lumps homosexuals in with drunks and terrorists, but in his mind they are all equally wrong. I am not saying that I agree with him, but this man has an opinion admits that it is not his place to judge people with differing opinions, and is true to “his” religion and faith. This man has done absolutely nothing wrong other than disagree with GLAAD.
Now to speak of GLAAD with regard to this. Attacking A&E for showing him and his stereotypes, calling them a “stain”. FUCK THAT. KUDOS TO A&E for not sugar coating it. A&E is all about biographys and the like, the fact that they show something like this in it’s bald truth. KUDOS TO A&E.
This article makes GLAAD look like morons. Like whiney bitches upset that someone is out there disagreeing with thiem.
This really, really tweaked me. Beyond the total stranger (and ostensibly my sister’s friend!) defending another asshole’s right to say bigoted things about people like my sister without any consequences, beyond the casual slur of “whiney bitches”, beyond this guy’s reaching far past the limits of his own vocabulary to seem like he’s got some sort of moral high ground, the only harsh words the guy had for anyone involved was for the people speaking up against bigotry. On my sister’s wall. Where she’s been personally subject to that same bigotry that GLAAD speaks up against.
So I absolutely had to step in. What’s a big brother for if not to kneecap little sister’s aggressors?
My sister recognized where things were going after my very first comment. Except for later putting us back on topic because we were both repeatedly making a mistake about who said what about whom and where, her only comment — right after my first — was “oh this should be beautiful.” I think she gets some sick pleasure from watching me rant.
The argument lasted several hours, timeshifting between other things as internet arguments do, and I did as I often do, attempting to explore too many topics at once. On the flip side of the argument, though, all this dudebro had to offer was a total misunderstanding of the concept of free speech.
In a display of complete misapprehension of what the First Amendment of the US Constitution attempted to enshrine, some random guy on the internet proclaimed that an anti-bigotry organization criticizing a bigoted statement by a very popular television personality made said organization look like “whiney bitches”, and that A&E was to be lauded for showing that person and all his bigotry (we were both under the misunderstanding that the statements had made it to air, not just in the magazine, at that point). He proclaimed that Robertson should not be “censored” by having his platform taken away, as though he built the platform that A&E was loaning him. He proclaimed that GLAAD was in the wrong because they “have an agenda” whereas Robertson was just “giving his opinions”.
To be absolutely clear, his opinions weren’t all that he gave in that statement. His opinion is that a woman’s vagina is more desirable than a man’s anus. Barring all the gender essentialism inherent in that statement (women can have penises too!), or the inherent implication that males who have sex with males can only do so by involving an anus in the equation, that is a valid opinion. It is both personal preference and does not depend on matters of fact that are actually false.
What is NOT a valid opinion — because it is not predicated on fact, and it is not a matter of personal preference — is that there is a creator deity who considers men having sex with men to be “sinful”, e.g. hated by God (and thus, despite dudebro’s protests, is actually “hateful” by the dictionary definition!), and therefore proscribed against.
What is NOT a valid opinion, is that “sin isn’t logical”, because it only works if you assume the speaker is suggesting that the concept of sin is illogical, predicated as it is on facts not in evidence, like a deity’s existence.
What is NOT a valid opinion, is that homosexuality has anything to do with drunkenness or terrorism, or that either of those are even necessarily universally bad — those are matters of fact that are not in evidence. And remember, one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. It’s the context of the act that makes an act moral or immoral, dependent on whether it hurts or helps society in general.
The actual problems with bestiality and pedophilia are the inability to obtain meaningful, informed consent from the other parties. Find me a dog that understands and can sign and be legally bound by a contract, and as far as I’m concerned, you can marry him.
And that’s where the problem lies. Robertson’s bloviating about things he believes because he thinks his Bible says so, actually helps propagate the demonstrably damaging memetics of anti-homosexual bigotry. Anyone accepting or walking past this standard, helps those memes spread. In order to fight bigotry, you have to fight every instance of bigotry you witness and have the resources to fight. GLAAD as an organization was built expressly to help pick these sorts of fights, and their “agenda” is one of confronting casual or endemic bigotry against gays. It is therefore an agenda with which I am completely comfortable supporting. Especially when it involves fighting back against a culture of religious proscription against otherwise completely innocuous acts. Society incurs absolutely no damage in general by two gay dudes fucking, even anally.
The culture that GLAAD is fighting back against, is one wherein a very popular and very old set of religious tenets makes taboo a bunch of things that don’t actually have a demonstrable net harm on society. There are no valid underpinnings to these taboos other than some person responsible for authorship having themselves found it icky. In amongst those taboos are shrimp, touching pig skin, touching a woman while she’s on her period, and (apparently, depending on your interpretation of the texts) homosexuality.
The bugaboo of buggery has long been associated by the religious right with terrorism, bestiality, pedophilia, et cetera. The GQ interview is no exception — Robertson tied homosexuality to bestiality directly. So the problem here is, a bunch of stuff is prohibited “by fiat” by a holy book or long millenia of tradition, without a sound underpinning of WHY it’s prohibited, and people — yes, even celebrities who are given a voice because they are otherwise interesting — get suckered in by this tradition or holy book.
But it isn’t just because they got tricked into believing in a book that says these things are icky. When arguing against something you don’t like, “because I think it’s icky” is insufficient cause for banning. “Because my god thinks its icky” is a way of trying to say “because I think it’s icky” with more clout than you actually have. It is a facet of the concept of Self Projection As God that someone who happens to dislike homosexuality would also assume that their god dislikes homosexuality — remember, in the LGBTQNation article linked at the top, a group of Christians decry Robertson’s interpretation of the Bible as vociferously as the anti-bigotry activists that my sister’s “friend” excoriated as “whiney bitches”. These folks are less bigoted against gays, and these folks are therefore likewise projecting their lack of bigotry onto their god as well.
Fighting this culture of ignorance will take attacking the roots of that culture, and challenging the individuals when they espouse those beliefs that come from it. If you don’t challenge those beliefs, they become acceptable. While GLAAD’s case that this is the “vilest” is questionable, challenging it is important, and in fact, fundamental to creating change. You do not stop trolling by ignoring the trolls. You stop it by feeding them to bursting, and making it cost to troll thereafter.
GLAAD fed this troll by “taking the bait”, by challenging what the troll had to say. Only the troll doesn’t think he’s a troll, he thinks he’s a right-minded and logical individual in espousing these leaps of logic necessary to believe in the very old holy books and what they say (supposedly) about homosexuality.
And in doing so, GLAAD succeeded in costing the Robertsons for espousing their bigoted beliefs, because A&E had suspended Phil Robertson from the show. The rest of the family responded by saying the show would not happen without the homophobic patriarch, that he “is” the show. By their actions in response to Phil Robertson’s free speech, A&E is expressing their own freedom of speech by choosing what to air. It is evident by these actions that A&E would rather keep gays and humanists and right-minded, less-bigoted Christians as their viewers, than side with the fundamentalist Christians fighting against the Gay Menace. Fundamentalist Christians like those supporters now petitioning for A&E to reinstate Duck Dynasty while calling GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign “gay lobby bullies”.
Surely if one statement by a group dedicated to fighting bigotry is bullying, then counter-statements by Sarah Palin, National Organization for (Only Straight) Marriage’s Brian Brown, and Parents Television Council are an organized campaign of bullying by a simulacrum of the Mafia, by comparison.
Why is one set of free speech — Phil Robertson’s — acceptable, while another — A&E’s, or GLAAD’s, humanists’, or heavens forefend, actual gay folks’! — unacceptable? Why does A&E no longer get to choose whom they associate themselves with when someone says some popular but extraordinarily hateful things?
People crying “free speech” all too often don’t have the first clue what it is (thus the meme, “freeze peach” — they don’t know what it means, but they sure like the sound of it). It doesn’t mean freedom to a platform, and it certainly doesn’t mean freedom from criticism or repercussions. You are not guaranteed an audience, and if the person who has the audience decides that audience would be harmed by your message, the person with that audience has every right to deny you it — if you had any entitlement to that audience to begin with. The only thing the right of free speech guarantees you is that you won’t be black-bagged and deprived of an ability to make a living by a governmental entity that has the overwhelming power to be able to destroy your life forever. If any government made a law demanding that A&E be forced to continue to air Phil Robertson after discovering his values don’t align with theirs, that government would be the one impinging on free speech. The censorious ones are certainly not the people criticizing A&E, Robertson, or religion in general!
Shades of the blogosphere. It’s like I’ve talked about this a billion times already.