No More Fake News
Author’s note: Based on experience, I know at least a few people out there will believe this is a factual account of a true trial. Brain damage? Public-school education? Drugs?
No, this account isn’t real.
It’s more real than real.
I have never met Phil Robertson. I’ve never watched Duck Dynasty. The last time I ate duck was 1968. I went back to chicken and turkey. I’ve seen ducks. The ones with green heads are attractive. I believe ducks are well-behaved, in contrast to their distant relatives, geese, which are a quite nasty bunch. And that’s it.
This is a transcript of the secret trial of Phil Robertson, patriarch of Duck Dynasty.
The trial was held in chambers, with only a robot stenographer present, as a third party, on May 2, 2014, in the US Federal Court of Public Speech and Hate Crimes, Judge Tomas de Torquemada presiding.
The Judge conducted an interview of the defendant and rendered an absolute and final verdict.
The transcript was leaked to this author. The anonymous leaker is now being sought by Homeland Security. His whereabouts are unknown. It is rumored he has gained “asylum” in the swamps of Louisiana.
Judge Torquemada: Good morning, Mr. Robertson. I see your gag and shackles have been removed. Are you comfortable?
Phil Robertson: My mouth is fuzzy, Your Honor.
Judge Torquemada: Fuzzy? Fuzz? Is that a derogative reference to the police?
Phil Robertson: What? No. My mouth is dry.
Judge Torquemada: Do you own a gun?
Phil Robertson: Yes.
Judge Torquemada: Do you ever think about guns in a positive light?
Phil Robertson: Sure.
Judge Torquemada: Indicates an undiagnosed psychiatric condition requiring treatment. For the record, I want to state that, contrary to media reports, the defendant has not been placed in thumb screws or a stock. Homeland Security had, in fact, brought these devices to the defendant’s cell, but upon examination, they were non-functional.
Phil Robertson: Your Honor, the cops set a speaker outside my cell and blared loud music for two days.
Judge Torquemada: Correction. These were federal agents, not “cops.” The purpose of the music was to deter you from hate-ruminating.
Phil Robertson: Why am I on trial? This is a federal proceeding. My conflict was with a cable television network, a private corporation.
Judge Torquemada: True, but when the public response rose to a pitch of 147 [a federal “red-line” index-measurement], it became a national security issue.
Phil Robertson: Security against what threat?
Judge Torquemada: Hate speech is a kind of bomb. Its detonation creates ripples. To put it another way, it is a highly contagious germ. Permitting it to spread unchecked results in escalating levels of hate directed toward protected groups.
Phil Robertson: So I’m a disease carrier?
Judge Torquemada: Your words, sir.
Phil Robertson: I was being sarcastic.
Judge Torquemada: Sarcasm directed at a law-enforcement officer is a crime. Haven’t you seen the “no jokes, please” signs placed at airport security checkpoints? The stenographer will note that Mr. Robertson has just committed a class A felony. Let us proceed. Mr. Robertson, did you voice, in a magazine interview, the opinion that homosexuality is a sin?
Phil Robertson: I did.
Judge Torquemada: And when you made that comment, were you acting the role you play on your television show, Duck Dynasty?
Phil Robertson: Are you kidding?
Judge Torquemada: Another piece of sarcasm. Stenographer, make a note. .
Phil Robertson: On the show, I’m myself. I’m not playing someone else.
Judge Torquemada: Why did you assail homosexuality?
Phil Robertson: I didn’t assail anything. But I believe homosexuality is a sin.
Judge Torquemada: On what basis?
Phil Robertson: The Bible, which is the word of God.
Judge Torquemada: In other words, religion.
Phil Robertson: My religious conviction.
Judge Torquemada: Are you aware the Constitution mandates a separation between Church and State?
Phil Robertson: I’m not a government employee speaking on behalf of the government. I’m a private citizen.
Judge Torquemada: Yes, but when your statements become public, and when they take on the characteristics of a contagious organism, the government must assert a position vis-a-vis public life. Public life is the government’s domain.
Phil Robertson: Since when?
Judge Torquemada: More sarcasm. You’re piling up offenses, sir. As you may know, holding strong religious feelings of a fundamentalist nature is listed, in various law-enforcement manuals, as one of the telltale signs of potential terrorist activity.
Phil Robertson: I’m not a terrorist. I love my country.
Judge Torquemada: So you claim the Bible condemns homosexuality.
Phil Robertson: It does.
Judge Torquemada: I’ve read the relevant passages. Would you admit the Bible is an example of hate speech?
Phil Robertson: No.
Judge Torquemada: But you see, it is. And therefore it should be banned, or at least censored to remove the offending statements.
Phil Robertson: God made those statements.
Judge Torquemada: And you believe in this God. So you are aiding and abetting. And God is guilty of hate speech. He should be censored as well. If he existed, he would be.
Phil Robertson: He does exist, sir. I’m sure He’s watching this trial.
Judge Torquemada: I’m taking that as a veiled threat against a federal official. Clerk, make another note. This is an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act.
Phil Robertson: You’re right, it is a threat. But it’s not coming from me.
Judge Torquemada: You’re delusional, sir. You, knowing the mind of a fictional God? You needed treatment a long time ago. Anti-psychotic medication, at the very least. Perhaps shock treatment or a partial lobotomy. It’s too late now, though. This trial will proceed. By the way, do you have an unlicensed vegetable garden on your property? Do any of your relatives sell lemonade by the side of the road? Have they ever brought a toy gun or a picture of a gun to school? Have they ever posted a political statement on Facebook? Stenographer, make a note to launch an investigation into these potential violations.
Phil Robertson: What happened to a jury of my peers?
Judge Torquemada: I am that jury, by proxy. I am every citizen who has ever suffered at the hands of haters. I take my responsibility seriously. I carry that burden with pride. I am also no one. I earn no fame from my position. I serve humbly. I refuse personal gain from this work. I believe in the ultimate Oneness of the people and the State.
Phil Robertson: You lost me there. How can you be no one? You’re a judge. You decide cases. You’re supposed to refer to the law of the land. The First Amendment right to free speech. And where does any law state that the people and the State are the same thing? I disagree with all of this. You’re just cooking up a sentence for me. The people are above the government. The government was created to serve the people. This isn’t a dictatorship.
Judge Torquemada: You’re wrong on every count, Mr. Robertson. One, I make my decisions on behalf of the people. Two, free speech doesn’t extend to incendiary pronouncements. Three, the people and the State are very much the same thing, because the State is the embodiment of the people’s needs. For the good of all. We’re all in this together. If we weren’t, we would have chaos. My job is to cull the outsiders, who are a threat to the Whole and the common social contract. You’re also wrong when you claim the government shouldn’t take you into custody and put you on trial. You attack gay men, a protected group. That’s a crime.
Phil Robertson: I wasn’t attacking them. I was saying they’re wrong. They’re committing a sin.
Judge Torquemada: Yes, and statements have consequences.
Phil Robertson: If we had to account for all the consequences of what we say, if we had to be responsible for every interpretation another person might place on what we say, we’d all be silent.
Judge Torquemada: That option has been considered. I take it you have no intention of retracting your injurious statements about homosexuality.
Phil Robertson: I wouldn’t retract my religious faith, either.
Judge Torquemada: Will you throw yourself on the mercy of the court?
Phil Robertson: I’m not seeing any mercy here. “The court” is slicing a whole lot of baloney.
Judge Torquemada: And your God will punish me for it?
Phil Robertson: That’s up to Him.
Judge Torquemada: How would he punish me?
Phil Robertson: He has his own court. He makes the rules.
Judge Torquemada: Care to hazard a guess?
Phil Robertson: I don’t know, maybe seasoning and roasting you on a spit?
Judge Torquemada: Where is his mercy, then?
Phil Robertson: He sent his only Son, Jesus, to die for all our sins. So we could be redeemed. That’s seems like mercy to me.
Judge Torquemada: Toward the son?
Phil Robertson: Toward all of humanity. His Son could take care of Himself. He endured His suffering and pain.
Judge Torquemada: I’d like to see you burning at the stake on a boat floating down the Hudson River.
Phil Robertson: I’d like to see you when you meet your Maker fifteen seconds after you die.
Judge Torquemada: Before I pass sentence on you, sir, I’d like you to understand the bigger picture. Make no mistake, you are an obstruction to the aims of the State, and I will remove the obstruction. But on a different level, and this is important to grasp, the whole embroilment between the “the people of faith” and the “gay community” is a shadow play designed to distract the population from the theft of their world.
The new world coming into being has nothing to do with “rights” or “special interests” or “protected groups.” These are ultimately fictions of convenience. The new world is entirely composed of special interests, by which I mean giant corporations that are taking over the production of all significant goods and services, and their distribution.
The men who operate that program are kings. The population of earth will be the labor force and the consumers. In their leisure time, they will take their little pleasures as they see fit.
You, sir, are a temporary fleck of contagion in this bloodstream, because the kind of freedom you represent, in cartoon form, is independent of the State. The new freedom is under the roof of the giant factory and the giant office building and the government building and inside the warrens of workers’ living quarters. It is freedom inside the system.
As limited as that freedom will be, it is based on superficial physical pleasures. Choose this pleasure or that. If having sex with inanimate objects became a popular trend, it would first be tolerated, and then eagerly championed. Whatever it takes to sustain the workers’ sense of personal satisfaction.
Do you glimpse the real perspective now, sir?
I could sentence you to death or life in prison. I could lock you up in a mental institution, where doctors would work on you and, after a few years of treatment, you would never be able to think a cogent thought again. But instead, I will take a humane course and release you back into the world.
I’m confident that, within a year or so, you’ll find yourself in the middle of an unseemly scandal, and your reputation will suffer irreparably. You will be a stained man, another popular figure who faded into obscurity.
These scandals have a way of surfacing without warning…if you get my meaning…
The Matrix Revealed
Phil Robertson: I’m a simple country boy, Judge. A lot of what you just said went by me—
Judge Torquemada: Really? I doubt that. You’re no barefoot redneck. You and your family were rich before Duck Dynasty ever became a television show.
Phil Robertson: Any person can voice his opinion. That freedom has all those ripples you spoke about. It spreads. Other people wake up. This isn’t a little thing. It’s bigger than big. I know you want to stop it. You’re in a bad place with that. It isn’t going to work.
Judge Torquemada: Oh, it’s already working. We’re an army of disciplinarians. We’re everywhere.
Phil Robertson: Who’s in a delusion now? Your thing’s boomeranging. You people went too far. Most Americans are willing to settle for live-and-let-live, but you want a lot more.
Judge Torquemada: I’m still a fifteenth-century man, Mr. Robertson. I want a confession from you. I’ll settle for one between us, in this room. Now. Alone.
Phil Robertson: A confession of what?
Judge Torquemada: Your sins.
Phil Robertson: That’s between God and me.
Judge Torquemada: You’re missing the point. Between you and “your God,” now stands the State. You have to go through the State. All roads are built that way.
Phil Robertson: Okay. I confess to being right about what I said in the magazine interview. And the last time I looked, a man doesn’t have to apologize for being right.
Judge Torquemada: Don’t you understand? There is no more “being right.” Every statement a person makes is judged by its effect on others. That’s the filter.
Phil Robertson: Then why didn’t the State just censor my interview?
Judge Torquemada: Because we’d get too much blowback. In this day and age, we use media and public reaction as our censor. We invent public reaction when necessary.
Phil Robertson: I’m outside the State. What I have as a human being isn’t given to me by the State.
Judge Torquemada: That’s all changing. Soon, it’ll be obvious to everyone that they have all the diseases and the mental disorders the State says they have, from cradle to grave. And that’s just one example of how the great change is coming about. People will have only the money the State says they have, only the property the State says they have, only the freedom to assemble and travel the State says they have.
Phil Robertson: That’s not America. That doesn’t have anything to do with America.
Judge Torquemada: America is a fantasy that’s dying out. It’s just a name, a word. America is part of that new world I mentioned. It’s a contributing member. It abides by international rules, for the good and glory of the whole body.
Phil Robertson: Here’s another part of my confession, Judge. You’re a madman.
Judge Torquemada: Correction. I’m a servant of the cutting edge. You’re a throwback. I’m the new revolutionary spirit. If people knew me, they’d hail me as a most humane creature toiling on behalf of the poor, the suffering, the ignored, the oppressed. They’d build statues of me. I’m an officer in the poor people’s army. And our ranks are growing every day.
Phil Robertson: You’ll be stopped.
Judge Torquemada: Do you realize how hollow that sounds? You’re talking from the past, Mr. Robertson. You’re a desperate man flailing against change. You’re a small ogre in a swamp, stomping around and gibbering. Already, new events and stories are superseding your outbursts.
Phil Robertson: You’re a loser. You have nothing of your own. You’re an empty shell. You’re just a reflection of the mob.
Judge Torquemada: Finally, something on which we agree. I never wanted to be anything more. I’m the sum total of what people believe they need, which is satisfaction delivered to them by the State.
Phil Robertson: If, tomorrow, people woke up, you’d just fall apart like dust.
Judge Torquemada: Ah, but you see, they won’t wake up. They don’t want to. They don’t want to be independent. Think about this. If the best that can be offered, in the way of a strong independent man, a hero, is you, a cartoon on a television show, then what chance is there that we’ll see a return to individual “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?”
Phil Robertson: I’m not trying to be a hero.
Judge Torquemada: For a few weeks, you were, to a fraction of the population. It was a tempest in a teacup. It’s over now. You have nowhere to go. That’s why I’m making my offer.
Phil Robertson: What offer?
Judge Torquemada: Why, to join us, of course. Work on the winning side. Expunge your sins. Take your place in the force that is shaping the new world.
Phil Robertson: Doing what?
Judge Torquemada: Speak on behalf of the poor, the suffering, the oppressed, the needy, the victims all around us.
Phil Robertson: My faith is in Jesus, and He speaks for the suffering in His way.
Judge Torquemada: Exactly. You want to express your deep faith? Do it in that fashion. Come back in the public eye as the defender of those who can’t defend themselves. Emphasize that part of your savior’s message. We really are in this together. You only have to see it. All that other misdirected action—throwing the money changers out of the temple, making accusations against the wicked, decrying evil—it’s unnecessary. By serving needs of the needy, and nothing else, all our goals are achieved.
Phil Robertson: I don’t decide what Jesus should or shouldn’t have done.
Judge Torquemada: Stop thinking in terms of deciding. That’s the old way. Just do what’s best for everybody.
Exit From the Matrix
[Robo-Stenographer 240s-vT2 note: At that moment, the room went dark. When the lights came back on, a few minutes later, both the Judge and the defendant were gone.]
Update: (AP) July 2, 2014: “The family of Duck Dynasty patriarch, Phil Robertson, has finally confirmed that Mr. Robertson went missing after a trip to Washington DC two months ago.
“This coincides with the national uproar stemming from an unconfirmed report that Mr. Robertson has shaved his beard, cut his hair, and has purchased a gay massage parlor in San Francisco.
“The scandal has exploded globally across websites, blogs, and tabloids. Even mainstream news outlets are carrying the story and reporting new developments on a daily basis.
“A gaggle of conspiracy theorists claim the unconfirmed massage-parlor-purchase report, which they call a blatant falsehood, came from a highly placed government source. White House Press Secretary Edward Bernays brushed aside these claims as speculative paranoia.
“‘Why would the government concern itself with such matters in the first place?’ he said. ‘Duck Dynasty? We’re talking about a television show. Some people like to imagine the government is forwarding a culture war. We have far more important issues to deal with. We serve the needs of the people of the United States. Furthermore, as the federal brain-mapping project reaches the end of its first stage, researchers have discovered that freedom is merely a series of neurochemical reactions, which can be switched on or off by an external operator…’”