Froma Harrop: A&E had a right to can redneck, but needn’t have

Wednesday, December 25, 2013
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The honchos at A&E, professing shock that an old Southern redneck from their reality TV hit “Duck Dynasty” made the sort of homophobic remarks one would expect from an old Southern redneck, yanked Phil Robertson off the show. A culture war skirmish ensued.

Gay rights groups condemned Robertson, who shared his raw opinions in a GQ Magazine interview. Religious conservatives, meanwhile, accused A&E of censoring the Louisiana duck hunter. What Robertson said, they noted, is right there in scripture, in Corinthians I.

Naturally, the politicians jumped in. “I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. “It is a messed-up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”

For the record, governor, Cyrus (who gained fame for shaking her raised rear end on TV) got not a laugh from me, but a retch. And I did find it odd that A&E would suspend a rural Bible Belt dweller from a “reality” show for saying what many like him really think — as gross as was his way of putting it.

And as inconsequential. Almost no one cares about homosexuality anymore, including most young conservatives. Outside some swampy precincts, the right to gay marriage is rapidly becoming the law of the land. Last week, same-sex couples lined up to tie the knot in, of all places, Salt Lake City.

Also, for the record, Robertson’s reading of Corinthians accurately included “adulterers” among those to be denied entry into heaven. Such concerns evidently did not deter the hunter’s fellow Louisianans from reelecting Republican David Vitter, a confessed adulterer, to the U.S. Senate in 2010. (In 1999, Vitter succeeded Bob Livingston in the House, after the representative resigned for having been caught cheating on his wife.)

Adultery may ban one from heaven, but it seems a lesser barrier to holding elective office in Washington. In his tweet defending the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Vitter emphasized the free speech part, not the Corinthians passage. That was wise.

Until this controversy flared, I had never seen “Duck Dynasty,” using the freed-up TV time to watch old “Frasiers.” Thus, I’ve been pondering how the hyperelitist Crane brothers would have responded to the “Duck Dynasty” to do. I envisioned Frasier making a clueless reference to a Royal Pan-Seared Duck Breast recipe using his signature pomegranate sauce.

The down-home Southern duck hunting culture would have seemed as exotic to the Seattleites as the caviar-binging Crane brothers would probably be to the bayou Robertsons. (Keeping categories straight, “Frasier” is sort-of fiction, and “Duck Dynasty” sort-of reality.) The brilliance of both shows is the characters’ comic capacities for self-mockery.

As for freedom of speech, A&E hasn’t taken anyone’s away. Its executives have every right to suspend Robertson from its programming for violating its code of conduct — or for overdoing the camouflage prints. This is business, you know, and if A&E wants to demand that its crotchety old Louisiana duck stalker be politically correct and a macrobiotic vegan besides, it may do so.

The question is why the network went this far. Why can’t it respond to what it considers offensive views by simply announcing that A&E finds them offensive? It’s hard to see the point of punishing this redneck, who seems as much no-school as old-school.

The “Frasier” brothers protected their snooty sensibilities by steering clear of shopping malls and Olive Gardens. Those jarred by Southern crackers speaking their minds might likewise try avoidance. (Was I just politically incorrect using the word “cracker”?)

Or they should make peace with the obvious risk that if you watch reality TV, reality is (sometimes) what you get.

Froma Harrop is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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December 26, 2013
4:52 a.m.
Phils2008 says...

Its nice we have to be treated to this liberal elitist on a daily bases. She attacks Phil as a no education old school cracker simply because he believes in something other then the pompous loud mouth liberal viewpoint. This country is slowly realizing just how sick liberals are and the support Phils has gotten is the proof.

December 26, 2013
7:58 a.m.
cidbil says...

You're right Phils2008. And pretty soon all the conservative right thinking people will take action and ban these stupid liberals from writing and expressing their narrow minded views anywhere. Yep won't be long we can just stuff them all into 55gal. drums and deposit said drums in Death Valley. Then we won't have to listen to this biased garbage. Then we can go to the libraries and burn all books, papers and any other references to liberal thinking, because by God we all know that Conservative thinking is the right way. And then when we've accomplished all that I'm pretty sure that we'll be able to elect a Conservative congress and President because one point of view is all we need anyway. Yep at that point all will be better I'm sure. One party, the "Conservative We're the Only Ones Whose Opinions Matter Party". And then we can start going through the Cities, Towns and Villages purging all those who don't share our views and banish them to Death Valley as well. A new dawn's approaching Phils2008 and I'm proud that we're a part of it. I can't wait until all the scurvy Liberals have been rounded up and silenced for good.

December 27, 2013
5:15 a.m.
Phils2008 says...

cidbil, you can tongue and cheek all you want. Opinions are not attacks. You liberals dont just express a viewpoint. The viewpoint here would be that you disagree with Robertson. Instead he has to be attacked as un uneducated (Correct me if Im wrong but I believe he has a masters) redneck cracker. You liberals have not been simply expressing your point of view you have been imposing it on America. When you cant accomplish that at the polls you run to a liberal judge. Much like your race card game, you want people to believe that conservatives are the intolerant ones when the obvious fact is that you despise any and all opinions, values and beliefs expressed by those on the right. Its easy for you to say it's the right that wants a singular view when through the main stream media you own it!

December 27, 2013
6:48 a.m.
cidbil says...

LOL......well first to set the record straight, I am not one of your hated liberals.....just someone who finds the constant us v them commentary ridiculous and unproductive.......I've "tongue and cheeked" liberals in much the same way.....I knew you'd bite, because that's what you folks do, never pass up an opportunity to bash someone with an opposing view. Pretty funny stuff when you break it down. Thanks for playing....:)

December 29, 2013
5:45 p.m.
Phils2008 says...

cisbil, you really got me didn't you. Its great that you don't have enough common sense to know the issues and take a stand. The fate of a country isn't a game. Take the time to grow.

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