A&E’s indefinite suspension of “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson over his comments regarding homosexuality, and the subsequent backlash, is an important cultural moment in American life.
For the first time in decades, traditionally religious Americans have come out of the closet en masse to speak out against anti-religious bigotry from proponents of gay rights. This, in turn, has made many on both the right and left uncomfortable: uncomfortable with a loud and proud segment of religious believers standing up for the expression of Biblical views, and uncomfortable with the notion of such religious believers being allotted a seat at the political and cultural table.
In all likelihood, Robertson will eventually be reinstated by A&E. In the meantime, we can learn some valuable lessons from this culture clash. Hollywood hates conservatives and kowtows to GLAAD. It’s been an open secret in Hollywood for years that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation routinely prescreens many television shows and movies, vetting them for anti-homosexual biases.
This began in the 1980s, when NBC actually invited the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to provide input on programming. CBS has changed the writing of its shows to add gay characters after receiving a flunking grade from GLAAD; GLAAD forced the Vince Vaughn flick “The Dilemma” to cut a joke about an electric car being “gay.” The story is different with conservatives. Anti-religious bigotry runs rampant on television, which is why A&E tried to cut “Jesus” from the Robertson family prayers. It is no surprise to find that GLAAD called A&E before A&E dropped Robertson.
Americans like conservatives on TV. Conservatives are routinely pilloried on television. A&E likely greenlit “Duck Dynasty” in the first place because executives believed Americans would laugh at the redneck antics of the self-described “white trash” family. This is the same reason CBS originally greenlit “All in the Family” — it believed Norman Lear’s Archie Bunker would be universally derided. Robertson is no Bunker, but they do have this in common: The American people resonated to them. And liberals in Hollywood can’t stand when Americans resonate to conservatives on television.
Too many conservatives are uncomfortable with religious conservatives. A shocking number of conservatives simply want the “Duck Dynasty” controversy to go away. Many of them think talk of the Bible is uncouth, and that conservatives should ignore cultural battles, instead focusing on economics. The truth, however, is that the conservative movement is animated in large part by Bible believers — and by ignoring that constituency and great good it represents, coastal conservatives do the entire movement a disservice.
The media don’t understand or want to understand sin. The attempt by the media to portray Robertson as homophobic is a deliberate misreading of religious Americans. The media set up a dichotomy in which you are either pro-homosexuality or someone who wants to brutalize homosexuals. This is not the view of the Bible, which makes clear that sin is common and ought to be condemned, but that human beings have the capacity for repentance. The left masks its distaste for the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality in a straw man argument that Bible believers are violent bigots. They are not. Citing the Bible doesn’t make you a bigot against human beings — it makes you a bigot against sin, which is a good thing.
The market works. Presumably, A&E thought that it would avoid market trouble by suspending Robertson. But it looks as though A&E will pay a heavy market price for its decision-making. Cracker Barrel originally pulled “Duck Dynasty” merchandise starring Robertson; the market forced Cracker Barrel to reverse itself. It has been decades since conservatives used their market power in the way leftists routinely do. With both Chick-fil-A and “Duck Dynasty,” they are learning that the market is the best way to act out their beliefs.
In the end, the “Duck Dynasty” controversy is a lesson in leftist intolerance. In leftist America, babbling for 11 hours about the moral imperative of killing unborn 21-week-old children is a virtue, while citing Corinthians is sin. Traditionally religious Americans must take note of this clash of values and recognize that the culture war is indeed a war for the spiritual soul of the country. An anti-Biblical America is a worse America.