|Phil Robertson of A&E's Duck|
So, A&E has changed its mind, and decided to allow "Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson to return to the show when it comes back from hiatus, after being suspended for his statements in GQ Magazine describing gays " as sinners akin to adulterers, prostitutes and swindlers". This after receiving threats of boycott, and petitions being signed by hundreds of thousands of people asking for his return. After people declared his freedom of speech was being trampled on. After their ratings for one week were just a bit lower than they were this time last year, or even the week before; we're not talking about a lot lower, we're talking:
"For the week of Dec. 16-22, the channel averaged 1.5 million viewers, compared to 2 million for the week before, according to Nielsen figures.During the week of Dec. 17-23 last year, a roughly comparable period to the post-Robertson flap period, the channel averaged 1.73 million viewers."
LYNN ELBER | Associated Press
Now to me, while that difference is a large number by itself, relatively speaking it is not that big. Think of how many viewers the network gets over the course of a year; the viewers that did not watch that one week doesn't seem like as many now, does it? Also consider the fact that we don't know every one of those viewers' reason for not watching. That kind of brings the number down even more. So why did A&E decide to knuckle under? It is supposed to be a network which believes in “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people.” but I can't tell, not by this decision.
So what is it? Is it because of Robertson's right to freedom of speech? I agree, he does have the right to say anything he wants to, as do the rest of us. However, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the responsibility of respect for others. It also doesn't mean that if you disregard that respect, and say something offensive, that you are free from the repercussions of what you said. If Dog the Bounty Hunter could be fired for voicing his opinion in a private telephone conversation which he did not know was being taped, why should Phil Robertson, who put his comments into a widely read publication without concern for who read it, be held any less accountable?
Not long ago there was a period of time when it seemed like a lot of celebrities were being suspended, fired, scolded, boycotted, punished in whatever way possible for using the word nigger. (No, I didn't say "the N-word" or any other silly euphemism; that's a post for another time though.) We were hearing in the news every day about some white comedian, reality show star, radio or TV personality (Richie Incognito, suspended NFL player; Paula Deen fired by the Food Channel for saying it in the past; GinaMarie Zimmerman, Big Brother reality show star fired from her day job; Michael Richards, Kramer comedian who said it on stage; and who can forget Doug "Dog" the Bounty Hunter who was fired from A&E for using it during a taped phone conversation?) using it and losing their job, their reputation, everything; where was their 'freedom of speech'?? Why were all of them just about tarred and feathered for their use of a word, but this man can publish in a magazine article the way he looks at gays, and suddenly A&E capitulates? Are gays' rights any less than those of blacks? Oh wait, maybe it's okay for gays to be talked about like that because they weren't slaves all those years ago...But then again, a lot of the gays he's talking about are black, so the difference can't be because of the history of slavery. Could it really be because A&E was worried about ratings, or the almighty dollar? How do you put the human rights of a group of people up against the dollar bill and have the people lose?
It doesn't make any sense to me that anything about this one man means more to A&E than the sensitivities (and viewership) of the millions of people he has offended. It's my personal opinion that what a person says and does in private should be their own business, but when you put your comments out in a public forum for all the world to read and be offended by, then you should be man (in this case) enough to stand up to whatever repercussions come. Once A&E fired him, Phil Robertson should have stayed fired.
Live From BikiniBottom, that's my truth and I'm sticking to it.