Reflections on the Duck Debacle

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the Duck Dynasty debacle that exploded on social media. But for those of you who haven’t, the mess began when a reporter for GQ Magazine visited the Roberston family down in Monroe, LA.  The article that resulted from the interview caused quite some controversy among “Duck Dynasty” viewers, Christians and other opinionated Americans, and Duck Commander Phil Robertson was suspended indefinitely from the “Duck Dynasty” program. During this controversy, there were at least three pro-Phil Robertson Facebook pages including: “Stand with Phil”, “Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson is Put Back on Duck Dynasty” and “Bring Back Phil Robertson”.

The “Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson Is Put Back On Duck Dynasty” page reached 100 likes within the first 10 minutes of it having been created, 1 million in less than 24 hours and finally ended with 1.7 million likes. There were a multitude of updates posted on this page, along with an opportunity for people to speak their minds about the situation. Throughout the course of this unfortunate circumstance, Robertson took a good amount of heat from the media. Cracker Barrel even stopped selling “Duck Dynasty” products in stores for a few days because of the controversy.

In case you haven’t encountered it yet, below is the quote that had everyone stirred up:

 “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Following this, the reporter asked:

“What, in your mind, is sinful?” Robertson responded with:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

The first thing observers of the situation should take into account is that Robertson was probably asked his opinion on the topic. The reporter likely wanted to get a rise out of the duck patriarch and he got it because, naturally, Robertson isn’t the type of character to sugar-coat his beliefs. Secondly, Robertson has a very direct way of saying everything—that is just his personality. But what a lot of people failed to mention in their hateful posts regarding this topic, is one other quote Robertson gave during the interview:

“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

The official Robertson family statement regarding this predicament, was posted on their Duck Commander site:

“We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Phil would never incite or encourage hate. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.”

I do believe that some of the things the Phil Robertson said were very much uncalled for and quite blunt. However, I also believe what he said is accurate. What I don’t necessarily agree with is how he said it. Although his language was crass and his words rather poorly chosen, it’s important not to mistake someone’s expression of his beliefs with intolerance and bigotry. Christians are called to love everyone. Everyone sins, no sin is worse than any other, and therefore there are simply different kinds of sin.

While I feel that A&E had every right to determine what they do or do not want aired on their show, the question remains: why on earth would they be surprised that Robertson would say something like this in an interview? He’s an outspoken southern man who’s not only open about his beliefs, but about pretty much everything else. Just because Robertson doesn’t have the “popular opinion”–that right and wrong are relative—doesn’t mean he should be punished for having that opinion. This belief is not archaic unless one believes the truth of the Bible is archaic, as it is clearly stated throughout the Bible that homosexual behavior is wrong.

“Duck Dynasty” is a great show and the Robertsons are a positive Christian influence on society. It’s rare to find Christian celebrities stating their opinions anywhere nowadays, let alone those who admired as much as the Robertsons are. It’s also rare for a clean show, regardless of how humorous or exciting it is, to have such high ratings (“Duck Dynasty” had 8.4 million viewers last season), especially when it is about a Christian family. But considering the incredibly derogatory music lyrics and reality show commentary constantly accepted as the social norm, you’d think a few questionable comments from a highly admired celebrity regarding his opinion on sin might be taken lightly, even if people don’t agree with him. Alas, it seems there is a schism between what kinds of opinions are and are not acceptable to express.

However, after the petitions and mass numbers of people who supported Phil Robertson and his family, it was made clear that “Duck Dynasty” fans are not to be messed with. It’s heartening to know that despite the popular opinion, Robertson still had enough support to bring him back onto to the show.