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‘Duck Dynasty’ star’s words beyond respectable dissent

Phil Robertson of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” was suspended for disparaging comments he made to GQ magazine about gay people.

Zach Dilgard/A&E/AP

Phil Robertson of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” was suspended for disparaging comments he made to GQ magazine about gay people.

I think we can all agree, some people are gay, some are not. Some people support and/or “tolerate’’ the LGBT community, some do not. One of the great things about this country is that we are free to have our own beliefs and opinions. That goes for Phil Robertson too.

In case you haven’t seen the story, Phil Robertson of the TV show “Duck Dynasty” took part in an interview with GQ magazine recently. In the article Robertson goes on a bit of an antigay rant. Suffice to say that Robertson, a born-again Christian, is not a supporter of the gay community. As a result of the article A&E suspended Robertson indefinitely from the popular show.

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In the wake of the suspension there has been the expected response from both sides of the aisle — those who agree with A&E and those who don’t. For example, Sarah Palin does not agree with the decision to suspend Robertson, stating “Free speech is an endangered species. Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the ‘Duck Dynasty’ patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.” Wilson Cruz — speaking for GLAAD — falls on the side of A&E, saying “What’s clear is that such hateful antigay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike. By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value.”

On the social media front, a Change.org petition to get Robertson reinstated on the show has received more than 118,000 supporters.

As the publisher of an LGBT magazine, I am obviously biased, no news there. I also realize that there is a large portion of society that does not agree with the “gay lifestyle” or the “gay agenda” . . . whatever term they wish to use. And, believe it or not, I am OK with that, too. To each his own. In the words of Pope Francis “who am I to judge?”

Robertson’s comments, however, went beyond respectable dissent. They were crass, ignorant, and disrespectful. In the article, Robertson compares homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, bestiality, and terrorism. Yes, apparently he feels that homosexuals and terrorists belong in the same conversation. That’s where Robertson lost me, as well as the decision makers at A&E. Just as Robertson is entitled to his opinion, management at the network is entitled to theirs as well, and they have made it clear where they stand on the issue, stating:

“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.’ His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.”

Does Robertson deserve to be suspended by A&E? Everyone can have their own opinion on that question, just like we can all decide whether or not to watch his show. One thing is clear, “Duck Dynasty” probably shouldn’t count on many viewers from the LGBT community going forward, not to mention the show probably also just lost the terrorist, polygamy, and bestiality communities, too.

David Zimmerman, the publisher of Boston Spirit Magazine, writes the Boston Spirit blog for Boston.com, where this was originally published.
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