A&E has placed Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” on a “hiatus from filming” following the reality television icon’s comments to GQ about homosexuality. “Duck Dynasty,” which chronicles the lives of Robertson and his family in rural Louisiana, is one of television’s most popular shows, with some 14 million weekly viewers.
A&E moved quickly to distance itself and the show from Robertson’s remarks. “His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been supporters and champions of the LGBT community,” the network said in a statement.
Robertson told GQ’s Drew Magary in graphic terms that gay sex is a “sin” and compared bisexuality and promiscuity to “bestiality,” articulating his religious faith in the salvation promised by Jesus Christ.
Yet although A&E focused on these remarks in its statement, Robertson made a number of other comments that could be considered offensive. Describing race relations in the Louisiana of his youth, he said that black farm laborers were happy there. “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person,” he said. “They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Robertson grew up during the period of the civil rights movement, a time of intense racial tension across the country and especially in the South.
Robertson also compared Shintoism, a faith currently practiced by some 107 million Japanese people, to Nazism, thereby equating an ancient form of ancestral worship with the murderous totalitarian ideology of Adolf Hitler. Robertson was arguing that a lack of Christian faith was responsible for the violence perpetrated by the imperial Japanese regime, as well as by Communist dictators and Islamist militants.
“The violent crime rate here in America has plummeted since 1990, even as church attendance has stayed the same,” Magary noted. “And, of course, Phil is conveniently ignoring centuries upon centuries of war, bloodshed, and human enslavement committed in the name of Christ.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, defended Robertson. “The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with,” he said. “This is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views.”
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin also spoke up for Robertson’s freedom of expression, calling A&E and advocates for gay rights who denounced his remarks “intolerants.”
“Free speech is an endangered species,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
As A.V. Club’s Sean O’Neal notes, Robertson’s remarks should not have come as a surprise to any viewer of “Duck Dynasty,” least of all the network that carries the show:
Yesterday A&E was dismayed to discover that Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson had espoused the sort of ignorance it had hoped would remain safely locked away somewhere, in the surely hours upon hours of unused footage left after producers cut around him espousing the fun kind of ignorance, which A&E has ridden to such ratings success. But in light of Robertson’s views on the unholy illogicality of gays and buttholes, of which A&E now realizes it was largely aware, the network has been forced to suspend Robertson indefinitely from the show. “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty,” said the network, which has prided itself on always taking care to ensure its hit show only reflects the kind of backwardness that doesn’t draw the condemnation of GLAAD.
For more on “Duck Dynasty,” check The Reliable Source.