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Every few months it seems that a celebrity really says some messed up shit. This year was no different with Riley Cooper, Paula Deen and now Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson joining the fray of people exposing their true colors in a pretty disturbing light.
In case you haven’t heard, Robertson told GQ’s (and Deadspin’s funniest writer) Drew Magary his views on LGBTQ Americans (and how they are similar to those who commit bestiality) as well as growing up in the South. Of course, what he said was pretty messed up though sadly not exactly surprising and yes; the uproar has been loud.
Listen. I can’t throw stones. I’m not perfect. I’ve said things in the past that aren’t perfect, I’ve sworn at people I shouldn’t have and I’ve probably at least five times in my life done something that wouldn’t be considered cool. I’ve been guilty of a too soon joke now and then as well as other failed attempts at humor.
I’m glad I get the chance to say that because well, I live in a country that luckily has a First Amendment. Phil Robertson, just like every American in the country, has the right to say whatever he wants. He in many ways is symbolic of the American Dream, considering the millions they have made and they even got their own lousy reality show about their duck whistle business.
I’ve never watched it, mainly because I’m awful at keeping up with television shows, but I can tell its impact on our society. One of my friends dressed up as one of those dudes for Halloween and was pretty much recognized by everyone in our small college town.
However, there are those who are totally-pro Phil Robertson and totally anti-him being suspended. Part of that is likely them being jaded by the fact that they love the show and are terrified of changes to it, as I assume the patriarch of the family is pretty important to the “unscripted” show. I guess it would be like suspending Don Vito from Viva La Bam, which should’ve happened if the show lasted longer.
Still, whenever these controversies prop up, there is a large segment of the population that decry those who get punished for their “opinion”. They say that somehow A&E is violating Robertson’s First Amendment rights and so on and so forth.
Let’s end this now in under eight hundred words. Robertson had every right to say what he wants to say. He has every right to believe in what he wants to believe and there is nothing you can do about it. Its all intrinsic when it comes down to what someone believes is their belief.
BUTBUTBUTBUTBUT, having the right to free speech and utilizing it does not mean you are free from criticism. It does not mean that there are automatically zero repercussions for the words that you say, especially if it demeans a segment of the global population. If I worked at CVS and went into the parking lot and said the company sucked, then went on Twitter to say it more; I probably shouldn’t be shocked to get fired.
Time and time again, this argument comes up and it gets tiring. Robertson can not be jailed by his government for his words. He can’t be deported or tried or anything because he has an opinion. But the people around him including private citizens, corporations, family members and TV channels can do what they want with him. You can still watch the show. Hell if you agree with his words (then this blog isn’t for you) you can stand by him. You can fight on his behalf.
That does not mean though that you won’t be impervious to eye rolling, criticism and more.
So own your words and when you get criticized, don’t hide behind the First Amendment. It doesn’t make you teflon.