(Update: If you read to the “final update” at the end, A&E announces Phil Robertson is back and filming will resume as normal. GLAAD’s strong-arming proved not just ineffective, but has made the LGBT community look authoritarian and censorious. Just as with GLAAD’s anti-Chick-Fil-A campaign. Please, let’s pull the plug on this organization!)
Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the redneck “Duck Dynasty” unleashed a torrent of benighted views about gay people in an interview with GQ, not on the family’s megahit A&E reality show.
In response, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a statement with a thinly veiled call for sponsors to boycott the show. Said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz: “Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”
Aside from addressing Robertson as “Phil” (are they buddies?), Cruz’s suggestion that sponsors reexamine their ad buys isn’t likely to garner much traction. So why call for it, except as an auto-reflex meant to gin up donors? In particular, given that Robertson’s views were not expressed on the A&E show (but in a sophisticated men’s style magazine, where no doubt the editors expected they would be met with derision), the best response would have been to rationally counter his arguments publicly, rather than engage in an impotent attempt to drive his brood off the air.
Update 1: A&E has suspended Phil Robertson indefinitely from filming “Duck Dynasty.” [Added: But will air a “Duck Dynasty” marathon that prominently features him.] I maintain my position that debate is preferable to silencing the opposition.
Update 2: I’m not the only one who had this response. Brandon Ambrosino writes, “Why is our go-to political strategy for beating our opponents to silence them? Why do we dismiss, rather than engage them?”
Update 3: Sponsor responds, “It’s a free country and Phil has a right to his opinions.”
When your first impulse toward somebody who says something anti-gay is to try to get them fired, something is very wrong. And let’s not forgot the hypocrisy factor. Progressives never tire of telling us that those who cooperated with the Hollywood blacklist were terrible, horrible, unforgivable people for pressuring the movie studios to fire those well-meaning liberals in a hurry who joined the Communist party and supported Stalin.
Let me clarify for those who seem determined to willfully misconstrue, the issue is not whether A&E has a right to fire Robertson for not being the sort of person it wants to be associated with—of course it does. The issue is whether GLAAD’s immediate response should have been to try to pressure A&E, through its sponsors, to fire Robertson.
Not so very long ago, before the proverbial worm turned, religious conservatives would routinely target sponsors of TV shows with gay characters. This could be effective, leading to script changes that prevented open displays of affection between same-sex couples, for instance. Now, those campaigns have lost their teeth, as shown by the failed attempt to intimidate Penny’s after the retailer hired Ellen Degeneres as a TV pitchwoman. And now that the power has shifted, gay activists are deploying the same tactics against religious conservatives. You’d think that would make them at least queasy, but it doesn’t. Again and again, yesterday’s victim becomes tomorrow’s inquisitor.
Update 4: Cultural critic and open lesbian Camille Paglia weighs in:
“To express yourself in a magazine in an interview — this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, OK, that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades,” Paglia said. “This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960’s that have been lost by my own party.”
“I speak with authority here, because I was openly gay before the ‘Stonewall rebellion,’ when it cost you something to be so. And I personally feel as a libertarian that people have the right to free thought and free speech.”
And yes, Ted Cruz and other conservatives are making hay out of this. If you open the door for them (as was also done with the misguided Chick-fil-A fiasco), don’t be surprised if they walk in.
Update 5: Log Cabin Republicans suggest mediating this dispute with a “Moonshine Summit.” There was a time when those on the left also thought changing hearts and minds was important. Now it’s about power and punishment.
Update 6: A broad overview of the controversy from Da Tech Guy:
“Apparently A&E didn’t realize that the ‘Duck Dynasty’ customer base were not the same audience as Will & Grace. … Nor did the cultural elites figure out that the advertisers know who is actually buying their products.”
GLAAD will only succeed in getting “Duck Dynasty” merchandise off the shelves in liberal jurisdictions, while customers in areas GLAAD views as benighted are flocking to purchase said merchandise in a show of support for the Robertsons. But then, it’s always been about fundraising and appealing to the base.
Update 7. Via James Kirchick, writing in New York’s Daily News:
All of the comments in question were uttered in forums other than the TV show, rendering the accusation that A&E or its corporate sponsors somehow endorse Robertson’s views even more preposterous.
Nevertheless, the remarks set off an avalanche of righteous outrage from gay rights organizations. You’d think that with India rebanning sodomy, Uganda reinstituting lifetime prison sentences for gays and Vladimir Putin leading a crusade against homosexuality, that America’s relatively comfortable gay establishment would have bigger homophobic ducks to fry.
But in the minds of many of America’s leading gay activists, the barely literate comments of a Louisiana yokel rise to the level of national crisis.
Final update? A&E announces “Duck Dynasty” will resume filming in the new year—with Phil Robertson. GLAAD bet it all on having enough muscle to strong-arm A&E by threatening to pressure sponsors, and lost. What a foolish, impotent, and counter-productive effort. Shame on GLAAD and (let’s take a page from the GLAAD playbook), those who support it. Let’s boycott ’em.
Also worth noting:
Before joining GLAAD [Wilson] Cruz worked for The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. This same NGLTF honored Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela at the New York Public Library in May 2012 with a forum to spout her regime’s anti-American propaganda. Needless to add, Raul Castro’s daughter–an official of the only regime in the history of the Western hemisphere to herd gay men and boys at Soviet bayonet-point into forced labor camps and torture chambers–received a standing ovation at the event sponsored by this gay rights organization.
In brief, according to Wilson Cruz, Phil Robertson simply cannot be allowed to express his views (which happen to coincide with a majority of Americans’) in a free-market venue. This amounts to “pushing lies.” But Mariela Castro must be allowed to spew Stalinist propaganda at New York taxpayer’s expense. Apparently this amounts to spreading the enlightenment as reckoned by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Any questions why so many flyover Americans question the agenda of outfits like GLAAD and The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force?
As I shared from commenter Jared123 in my November 2013 post “GLAAD Needs a Mission Update“:
Groups like GLAAD attract LGBT progressives who want to work to advance a partisan left-liberal agenda. Unfortunately, when your message to conservatives isn’t “we think you should support civil equality and social inclusion of gay people,” but rather, “we think you’re wrong about everything and should become liberals,” you’re not going to accomplish much, although your fellow progressives will invite you to their parties and tell you that it’s wonderful you’re advancing the cause (of progressivism).
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