The feathers are no longer flying. For now, the “Duck Dynasty” debacle is settled. The network, A&E, has welcomed patriarch and hate-speech spewer Phil Robertson back into the fold. The hiatus that was to be his punishment for homophobic and racist comments made in a GQ interview has been lifted.
So who were the winners and losers in this sad episode?
A&E, which seized the moment to attract more viewers (fans and hate-watchers, both), proved that money is the first priority in TV programming. The network wins the craven capitalism prize.
Sarah Palin and other politicians who piled on, claiming Christianity as an excuse for hate speech, win the hypocrisy award. I’m no theologian, but vile bigoted comments would seem to qualify as unchristian.
Free speech advocates and reality TV fans come out on the winning side, and really, why should a bigot be muzzled? Shine a light on the ignorance. Certainly the “Big Brother” flap proved commercial interests take care of punishment in the long run. (A modeling contract was cancelled after a contestant spouted racist and homophobic slurs inside the BB house.) It’s now up to viewers to find the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch’s comments abhorrent, and up to sponsors to decide not to advertise.
Journalistically, the winner was GQ for publishing the revealing ignorant comments in the first place.
Robertson and clan won the financial security of an ongoing reality TV show but suffered humiliation.
A&E’s stated intention to run public service announcements promoting “unity, tolerance and acceptance” is a lame PR move.
Haters gonna hate, but it’s better to know where the offensive hatred is located.