It is almost beyond belief, but a news story that has large numbers of Americans riled up during the holiday season concerns a reality TV show about a Louisiana family that has gotten rich selling products to duck hunters.
Phil Robertson, the patriarch of A&E network’s Duck Dynasty, made derogatory statements about gays in an interview with GQ magazine. The network suspended him, causing an immediate uproar, especially among conservative fans. They say that he was denied his free-speech rights, and that his suspension is an attack on Christianity because he was only repeating what the Bible says.
The issue quickly became more covered in camouflage than the Duck Dynasty stars themselves. But this isn’t about the First Amendment, which sets limits on government power.
A&E is not the government. It was within its rights to suspend Mr. Robertson for behavior that it considers to be not in its commercial interest. Mr. Robertson can say whatever he likes, but he has no constitutional right to remain a reality TV star if his employer deems his behavior to be detrimental.
Those who protest to A&E are within their rights too. This is how free speech works in America.
Those who perceive an attack on Christianity should remember that the Bible has many admonitions. One is “Judge not and be not judged,” which is hard to square with Mr. Robertson’s assertion that homosexuals are going to hell.
If you make a TV star out of an earthy character such as Mr. Robertson, you shouldn’t be surprised by what he might say away from the bayou. Still, if biased cultural beliefs walk like a duck and quack like a duck, then maybe they are a discriminatory foul. These ruffled feathers are a bit too much.