Ten Points About Speech, Ducks, And Flights To Africa

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180 Responses

  1. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @Brian Tannebaum – you should get on that new fangled twitter majobber thingydo…
    All the outrage pools on there…

  2. Ken White says:

    Note that there are times when using the phrase "free speech" to apply to private corporate action is arguably appropriate. For instance, if a company takes down content based on an assertion that it is "defamation" or "threatening," then the term is more appropriate. Put another way, a company saying "we take down content that doesn't reflect our values" isn't a free speech issue. A company saying "we take down defamatory posts or actual threats" arguably is, because it imports free speech concepts.

  3. repsac3 says:

    This is why I come to this blog. Thank you.

  4. This timer to edit your comment is the worst 10 minutes of my life. I just feel like someone is saying "YOU ARE HORRIBLE, THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU JUST SAID."

  5. Dave Crisp says:

    What happened to point #4?

  6. Dave, it was not included. It's Popehat's First Amendment right to do that. SO SHUT UP. (Edited to say I am sorry for being mean) I have 6 minutes left to edit so I just want to say…never mind, it's fine

  7. JP says:

    Dave Crisp • Dec 21, 2013 @3:45 pm

    What happened to point #4?

    It has been completely redacted by the NSA! #GovernmentConspiracy !!!!111oneoneone

  8. Ken White says:

    My people have no tradition of counting. #4 has been restored.

  9. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    My sole observation about the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle is that if you green light a television show about a family of Christian Rednecks you have scant grounds for surprise when they express themselves like Christian Rednecks. You still have the right to fire them, but it does make you look like a bunch of pillocks.

  10. Ken White says:

    C.S.P., I concur. That's what I was referring to when I said that a company's stated rationale for its decision may be bullshit.

  11. Kirk Taylor says:

    Thank you for saying what I've been trying to for days. You have saved me countless hours of internet arguing.

  12. ALeapAtTheWheel says:

    Ken, just curious, do you think think that a healthy marketplace of ideas is helped out by a normative preference for speech that tends to encourage more speech and a normative aversion to speech that tends to discourage more speech, even when the speech discouraging more speech is perfectly within the bounds of any reasonable definitions of free speech?

    If not, why not? (AKA, I lean in that direction, but would love to hear a well thought out reason I'm wrong)

  13. GoSign says:

    @ALeapAtTheWheel:

    If other people's reactions to your speech discourages you from further speech, that means you've voiced an unpopular opinion and suffered consequences for it. Speech being "discouraged" by society is a normal part of a society existing. Any alternative to this system, in an attempt to create a "normative preference that encourages speech", would have to somehow forcibly shut down counter-speech.

  14. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Ken,

    I'm not so sure I would describe it as "bullshit". Bullshit would imply that their decision had no basis. They want to placate the Politically Gay. That is a real concern for any company working in the Entertainment field. Now, they should have thought of that before they decided to make stars of a bunch of people pretty much guaranteed to make anti-homosexuality remarks at some point. The Bullshit was the green-lighting of Duck Dynasty, if they weren't ready to offend certain types of people.

    So either they're spineless for firing the guy, or they are nitwits for hiring him in the first place.

  15. Xenocles says:

    I'm sure A&E will give up all those tainted profits they made from the show.

  16. Excellent! If I could hug a blog I would. I've been trying to explain this to co-workers with limited success. I'll just text them a link to this article next time. Thanks Ken, and I hope your hiatus is a R&R type and not a "too busy to blog" type.

  17. JTM says:

    Have a great break, Ken!

  18. Stephen H says:

    So after you have said all of that, we should, er, govern ourselves accordingly?

  19. Brandon says:

    To point #5, yes, all true, except that i want to point out that homophobia is horrible, and basically, so are the unempathetic people who practice it. You kind of touched on this in #8.

    maybe there's someone who is consistent about all holy books when arguing "you should cut them a break because it's in their holy book," but I personally have not met this person.

    Youve never met a politically correct capital-D Democrat?

    Haha, so glad you touched on PR lady too. Ive been eagerly awaiting your Papa Duck/PR lady joint post. The whole thing was made so much uglier by the person taunting and taking pictures of her when she landed. Uglier than what she said in the first place, which I actually thought could have been a badly written point about the tragedy of AIDS among the black population of Africa.

  20. Ken White says:

    @Brandon: Yes. I am not a fan of homophobia.

    But this man is a culturally conservative, traditional, and conventionally religious. His show is premised on him being that way. That's the hook. The reason GQ — a culturally "progressive," socially mainstream magazine — ran a piece on him is to highlight someone culturally conservative and traditional having a hit show. GQ deliberately asked him questions calculated to elicit culturally conservative, religiously conventional views premised on the Bible. That was the hook for the article.

    Under those circumstances, saying "you know, culturally conservative, religiously conventional views deem me/my brother/my neighbor/my friend as being inherently sinful because of who I/they are, and that's a hard thing, and I'd like that to change, and I'd like to discuss how it feels" strikes me as a very reasonable response.

    "IT IS AN OUTRAGE THAT HE SAID THAT" does not strike me, under those circumstances, as a reasonable response. It strikes me as using the contrived circumstances to attack your cultural enemies. The fact that I sympathize with the anger behind the attack doesn't change my view.

    Edit: You edited your post after I started writing.

    With respect to this:

    "Youve never met a politically correct capital-D Democrat?"

    I've never met one who suggested that both Christians and Muslims (for instance) should be cut a break for their anti-gay or "sexist" viewpoints, no.

    With respect to empathy: I think the comments come out more empathetic when read in full. But I recognize that telling people that they're going to Hell because of who they are is inherently harsh.

  21. PonyAdvocate says:

    Re point #7: It sounds as if Mr. White disapproves of schadenfreude. We all make mistakes, and I think the world would be a better place if we all were a little more tolerant of others who err, since it's inevitable that each of us will need to be on the receiving end of that tolerance at some time in the future.

    On the other hand, according to reports, this Duck guy proudly expressed deeply held views that many see as profoundly vile and hateful. Yes, he has a right to express his views. But I'm aware of no evidence that he was tricked into saying what he said, or that he committed some error (by maladroitly expressing what his real opinions were, for example). Based on the evidence out of his own mouth, the man appears to be a willful, unrepentant asshole. And I see nothing wrong with feeling satisfaction when a willful, unrepentant asshole gets what's coming to him.

    I don't doubt that the Duck guy will land on his feet: he has many defenders among the powerful, and it's unfortunate that many of those people won't suffer consequences for their actions. And as some others have pointed out here, those who run A&E knew, or should have known, they were playing with fire when they decided to associate with these Duck people, and A&E, too, deserves the consequences of its actions.

  22. Ken White says:

    @PonyAdvocate: I would be a hypocrite if I disapproved of all schadenfreude. But I also believe in proportionality.

  23. Chris says:

    My sole observation about the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle is that if you green light a television show about a family of Christian Rednecks you have scant grounds for surprise when they express themselves like Christian Rednecks. You still have the right to fire them, but it does make you look like a bunch of pillocks.

    "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"

  24. Personally I found Robertson's comments about Jim Crow, Shinto and Islam more offensive than his offensive homophobic remarks (and I don't feel they fell solely within the "my religion tells me these people are going to hell" once he started in on talking about vaginas and assholes and bestiality.) I think it's a shame that the outrage is all being focused on homophobia, and that A&E chose to respond highlighting that.

  25. AlphaCentauri says:

    If A&E didn't expect something wacky to come out of his mouth when he was talking without a script, they wouldn't have given him a reality show. Where is the outrage that so many people are spending so many of the short hours of their lives being voyeurs into the lives of people they'll never meet, or the outrage that corporations are taking advantages of children with exhibitionist parents to put out family reality shows including minor children? It ended badly back in the 70s with An American Family, and it's been ending badly ever since, but we derive sick pleasure by watching and waiting for the next bad ending.

  26. Ken White says:

    @Elizabeth: I agree. The stuff about nobody singing the blues was very bless-my-elderly-uncle's-heart.

  27. Aonghus says:

    Another Robinson, (Spider) once tried to describe that moment when you realize that what you thought was a polite conversation with another person is, in fact, just a bunch of meaningless noises that neither of you comprehend. (I believe the word he used was frizion, but I may be wrong.)
    For many of us, our religion is a central fact of our life. To attack the main instruction manual of that religion is perceived as an attack on our religion and, by extension, ourselves.
    On the other hand, I can see the side of GLAAD, which has been sensitized to any perceived slight by centuries of oppression.
    What saddens me is that rather than actually reading what Phil Robertson had to say, (which very much struck me as the "love the sinner, hate the sin" message I had drummed into me at Sunday School,) GLAAD decided to present a straw man argument and attack it.
    To those of us on the right-hand side of the political aisle, this very much looks like an attempt to silence someone with a differing opinion. Rather than seek to engage in the "Dialogue" that many on the left claim to want, this seems to be an attempt to shout down the other side.

  28. Sami says:

    I have to say, my viewpoint has circled repeatedly about the A&E guy. Initially, for some reason that I do not now know, I had heard his commends about gay people discussed, and I thought, yeah, that's bullshit, but this seems dispropor- he said what about black people?

    Because seriously, speaking as a white queer, his racism seemed way, WAY more offensive than his homophobia.

    As for his getting fired, though: sorry, people who claim this is somehow violatin his consertooshinal rites, but the First Amendment guarantees your right to spout bullshit, but it does not guarantee your right to get paid to do so.

    As for the contents of holy books: The way I see it, it depends on how your beliefs are intersecting with the lives of others.

    For example, I consider myself to be a Christian, but I am definitely, absolutely, and with absolute certainty not Catholic. I do not, in fact, believe that Catholic doctrine lines up very well with Christianity at all.

    I thereby take offence at:

    - people who assume that Christianity = Catholicism, and yell at me about how the historical crimes of the Catholic Church are perforce an indictment of the merits of Christianity

    and

    - people who declare that faith is incompatible with intelligence or sanity, and yell at me about the Flying Spaghetti Monster

    but not nearly as much as I take offence at

    - people who claim to be Christian, but violate every principle put forward by Christ, and use faux-Christian faux-piety to mask an agenda of violence, hate, and capitalistic oppression.

    I'm actually pretty consistent about "it's in my holy book". My view on people regarding that stuff is contingent on two points.

    1) Are you consistent? Because if you are cherrypicking only the parts that suit you, you can shut the fuck up, thanks. If you are citing the Bible against homosexuality, you better have chapter and verse, and if you're citing Leviticus then you had also better be keeping kosher and avoiding shirts of mixed fibres. If you're citing Paul, then you should also be insisting that women never, ever speak in church, and good luck with that, buddy.

    (Also, obviously, you should give all your money to charity, never turn away a beggar or anyone in need, and always forgive any wrongs done to you immediately.)

    2) Are you trying to control how other people live? Because you're welcome to live by your faith, but you don't get to make other people live by it, too. For the exact same reason that every food everywhere doesn't need to be halal *and* kosher *and* entirely free of beef, other people don't have to follow your religious rules.

    Which is why unless you can make an argument entirely free of reference to religion, you can shut up regarding, say, a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. I don't care if you think it's immoral; I kinda do too, but that's not my decision to make for other people. My beliefs mean I can decide that I, personally, can't imagine I would choose to have an abortion myself. I don't get to decide for someone else.

  29. Demosthenes says:

    @ Ken:

    The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker holds that when Person A speaks, listeners B, C, and D should refrain from their full range of constitutionally protected expression to preserve the ability of Person A to speak without fear of non-governmental consequences that Person A doesn't like.

    The key word here, of course, is "should." Most notable is the fact that "should" is not semantically equivalent to "are forbidden to." The Preferred First Speaker doctrine, if that's what you wish to call it, does not legally proscribe any conduct. It is a normative theory that encapsulates a viewpoint on what tolerance for the speech of others would actually look like.

    Do you think the experience of being shouted down by a mocking crowd makes people more or less likely to support the concept of freedom of expression for others (including, perhaps especially, the people who shouted them down)? Do you think the experience of losing business due to a boycott responding to non-business-related expression makes people more or less likely to consider boycotts of others? In short, do you think that all acts of free expression advance the cause of free expression?

  30. Sami says:

    @Aonghus:

    What saddens me is that rather than actually reading what Phil Robertson had to say, (which very much struck me as the "love the sinner, hate the sin" message I had drummed into me at Sunday School,) GLAAD decided to present a straw man argument and attack it.

    The trouble is, he'd already done the "homosexuality is the same thing as bestiality" thing, and at that point, it's very difficult for anyone who falls on the "homosexuality is perfectly and provably natural" side of things to see nuance in his comments through the red mists of valid offence.

    Although I personally still found his racism *far* more egregious.

    The thing is, I don't know that anyone really wants to establish "dialogue" with people like him any more, because there really isn't much point. He's an ass, and as a species, they're renowned for their stubbornness. Viewpoints like his are becoming historical relics, and "engaging" in "dialogue" with him would be, at best, a waste of time and energy better spent engaging with people actually in range of reason.

    The thing that gets me about "love the sinner, hate the sin" rhetoric is that it remains rather un-Christian.

    Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. – Matthew

    Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven – Luke

    Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? – James

    If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. – James

    Ultimately, it boils down to this: I somehow doubt this gent is so entirely free of sin that it is particularly Christian of him to be throwing quite so many stones.

  31. PonyAdvocate says:

    @Ken White

    I would be a hypocrite if I disapproved of all schadenfreude. But I also believe in proportionality.

    Is there something unproportional about this Duck guy incident? The Duck guy said things which are really, really offensive to large swaths of the population (and which also reflected poorly on his employer, A&E). Anyone with two neurons to rub together ought to be aware that anything one says in public these days is susceptible to being broadcast to the entire world within seconds; anyone who is a public figure, as this Duck guy voluntarily made himself, ought to be even more aware of it. FWIW, I suspect A&E suspended him less for what he believed, and more for being foolish enough to express what he believed so publicly.

    I can see your concern with proportionality applying to the Justine Sacco incident to which you refer: based on what I've read, this seems to be a case of an offensive tweet resulting from the venial sin of thoughtless flippancy, and I agree with you that it would be kind to cut this woman a little slack. The case of the Duck guy, by contrast, is different: his expression of offensive views seems not to be thoughtless; it seems, rather, to be the result of deeply rooted personality traits of which most persons of good will would disapprove. In other words, the guy is, in many important ways, a major league asshole, and deserves to be treated as such.

  32. SIV says:

    If Duck Dynasty was on PBS then they couldn't fire Mr Robertson for speaking his mind in a magazine interview, right?

    As reading Popehat taught me the First Amendment offers government employees broad employment protections from any consequences of their speech .

    What is with all this "going to Hell" stuff? As Jack Chick pamphlets and the one revival I attended taught me it doesn't matter (in fundamentalist protestant theology anyways) the quality or quantity of one's sins as Romans 10:13 offers a surefire "Get Out of Hell" card just so long as you use it:

    For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

  33. SIV says:

    A PR flak is the last person who should be "cut slack" for offensive tweeting. It isn't what Justine Sacco said so much as saying it clearly shows she is grossly incompetent at her chosen profession. Never working in PR again seems a most appropriate consequence.

  34. Ken

    I think it is dangerous to treat free speech as beginning and ending with the first amendment.

    Freedom can die at the hands of private individuals. Everyone agrees, for instance, that the Brownshirts were instrumental in the rise of Nazism, but there we are talking about private violence. Likewise, the government might not try to coerce on the subject of religion but if terrorists are going around saying they are going to kill anyone who draws mohammed, that is a threat to freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

    There is of course a danger of people descending into unprincipled mush, but the solution is to be principled about it, not to throw up your hands and say, "ah, i can't figure it out, so i am only going to worry about governmental suppression."

    I think there are several rational dividing lines we can make. one big one is if you are in the business of expression or not. That PR lady, was in a job where expression is what they sell. so is every movie or TV star, etc. In that case what she says impacts the company, although I think they were being less understanding than she deserved. i always figured it was meant to be a darkly humorous comment on racial disparity, rather than a naked expression of racism. I'm not saying it wasn't on some level dumb, just not as awful as everyone was saying. I am not sure i would have fired her if i was her boss.

    But corporations have a right to free speech, too. So if a movie studio is making a movie about the holocaust, and one of the actors in the movie says that on balance the jews deserved what they got, there is nothing wrong with firing that actor. The studio can rightfully feel that the actor might not be capable of portraying the message–sympathy for the plight of the jews in the holocaust–that it wants to. And for that matter if a company wanted to make a movie like Stone's JFK that alleges that the holocaust was a fake, they can fire true believers to help make sure they make a final product that fits their message.

    I think the tough thing with the duck dynasty guy is that it depends on how much reality you think there is. You could say "There is something unfair about telling a guy, 'say what is on your mind, we'll film it and we'll all get rich,' and then getting upset because you didn't like what he said." But that depends on you buying that you are watching any kind of "reality" at all. if you think the show is about as spontaneous as your average sitcom, then disciplining him becomes a lot less offensive.

    Outside of the expression business–TV, movies, newspapers, etc.–speech based discrimination should be only occur if this person's speech is aimed at affecting the business–such as bad mouthing the company.

    Ultimately I think the guiding star should be the idea that as much as possible we should be winning our political debates on the strength of our arguments and we the people should be the sole evaluators of the strength of said arguments. That is what the marketplace of ideas is all about and in general we need to preserve it from all threats, governmental or private.

    btw my post on Duck Dynasty is in the can and coming monday.

  35. ChrisTS says:

    @SIV:

    PBS employees are not government employees. Some states and the Feds give a bit of money to PBS and NPR. They are not run by the state[s].

  36. Vidiot says:

    I didn't see many of Phil Robertson's defenders arguing on Alec Baldwin's behalf a few weeks ago. I wonder why?

  37. James Pollock says:

    If Duck Dynasty was on PBS then they couldn't fire Mr Robinson for speaking his mind in a magazine interview, right?
    As reading Popehat taught me the First Amendment offers government employees broad employment protections from any consequences of their speech .

    PBS isn't part of the government, and employees of PBS are not government employees.

  38. AlphaCentauri says:

    In fact, AFAIK, the money goes to Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and they donate to various public broadcasting stations. So it's not a case of them answering directly to a government agency, either.

  39. SIV says:

    @ChrisTS

    The Corporation For Public Broadcasting was founded and is funded by the Federal government.

  40. miguel cervantes says:

    Like the BBC, it arrogates itself the view as the voice of the nation, NPR is even more so, when it fact it serves as wurlitzer in the administration, and counterestablishment in others.

  41. Chris R. says:

    SIV, PBS was not founded by the Federal government and is only 15% funded by the government. It was founded by an individual (Hartford N. Gunn Jr) and it's predecessor National Education Television was founded by grant from the Ford Foundation. It is also owned by it's affiliates as a collective.

  42. ALeapAtTheWheel says:

    @GoSign "Any alternative to this system, in an attempt to create a "normative preference that encourages speech", would have to somehow forcibly shut down counter-speech."

    Not at all. Responding to something that pisses you off with 'What he said is stupid and here's why" and "What he said is stupid and I'm going to try to get him fired for it" are both perfectly permissible responses, but there's no reason we can't prefer one over the other.

  43. Chris R. says:

    As for Richardson, though I adamantly oppose his point of view, he is entitled to his point of view. I don't expect the world to conform to what I see as truth, nor do I expect the world to demand I conform to 7 billion other persons personal truth.

  44. Fred says:

    At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less.

    JUST KIDDING

    Yes, you've read that first paragraph before.

  45. Jacob H says:

    @Aonghus

    For many of us, our religion is a central fact of our life. To attack the main instruction manual of that religion is perceived as an attack on our religion and, by extension, ourselves.

    This is very understandable, and I'm very sympathetic to this position, but I don't think that's a very good reason to avoid criticizing holy books. That would essentially insulate holy books from criticism, the more so the more followers they had. But the bigger a religion is, and the more adherents is has, the more it may need to face criticism. After all, once a church gets really big, it gains the power to do some serious harm, if it is inclined to.

    Take the People's Temple, for example (the Jonestown cult): When it was very small, its ability to do harm was also very small. Who would waste the time writing a book devoted to debunking it? It's only after it grew in followers and funds that it was able to really do some harm. Same with Scientology – they weren't able to conduct the largest domestic espionage in US history (operation Snow White) until they had amassed all the money and manpower needed.

    I do think that when you are criticizing a holy book, or even a foundational philosophical book (like Rand, or Marx, for example), its polite to go out of your way to emphasize that you aren't attacking the followers of that book. But I also think some responsibility is on the follower; to not identify so strongly with said book, that any attack on it is a de facto attack on them. Even the most devoutly religious probably wouldn't go to the mat for absolutely every sentence in their book (although you might need to trick them to get them to admit it to themselves and you (say, by pretending to quote from a competing book – this is a favorite technique of gotcha-players))

  46. Steve says:

    Great ideas in history:
    Lets put them in front of a camera and see what happens…

    It right up there with "Could you help me a sec? hold on this stick of dynamite while I light the fuse".

    Both resulted in a explosion and people saying "did not expect that to happen"

  47. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Sami;

    While generally in favor of "what people do for sexual gratification is their business, so long as they stick to volunteers", I have a major problem with the "homosexuality is perfectly and provably natural" argument. What, exactly, does this prove? Arsenic is also perfectly and provably natural. Also perfectly and provably natural is the reproductive strategy of murdering an alpha-male, killing all his children, and then raping his mate. Lions do it. I believe it is also fairly common among the social Great Apes (Gorillas and Chimps, for example). "Natural" is no excuse for anything, and using it to defend homosexuality fails to defend homosexuality.

  48. Canadian says:

    The devil in me wants to publish all the racist things he said, followed by all the statements of support from all the antigay politicians. Would that be terribly wrong? Because I think it would be hilarious!

  49. OrderoftheQuaff says:

    We are all voyeurs.

  50. David Schwartz says:

    @C. S. P. Schofield : The argument that homosexuality is natural simply rebuts the argument that it's unnatural. Typically, someone will make an argument like "homosexuality is unnatural and therefore X". Someone responding to this argument has two choices, they can argue that homosexuality is natural or they can argue that X does not follow from something being unnatural. If they choose the former path, usually the easier one, they have to argue that homosexuality is natural. And all that follows from it is that the argument they are rebutting is wrong.

  51. Artor says:

    @ CSP Schofield
    Your analogy fails from the start. Arsenic is a poison. Look it up and you will find a long list of the horrible things it does, as confirmed by tests and experiments. Homosexuality is not a poison, and the harms attributed to it are mostly vapors and hysterical slander. In fact, the worst harm in homosexuality comes from the rabid bigots who mistreat those they view as gay.
    Making simplistic this-vs-that comparisons may sound witty, but don't be disingenuous. If you ignore the lack of actual, provable harm and the issue of informed consent, those comparisons fall flat.

  52. neverjaunty says:

    I believe the "Preferred First Speaker" doctrine is a slightly more erudite version of what grade school kids call "No Tagbacks", and serves the same function. (Specifically, to allow you to attack somebody else while forbidding them from retaliating in kind.)

    C.S.P. Schofield: As David Schwartz points out, you've essentially walked in halfway through a discussion and are upset you can't make head nor tail of it. The part of the discussion you missed is the claim that homosexuality is wrong because it is "unnatural". (Cue tiresome platitudes about Adam and Steve and 'it's an exit not an entrance'.) The observation that homosexuality is, in fact, natural, is a rebuttal to this claim.

    (The other typical rebuttal is to note that many things we consider desirable, such as lipstick or blowjobs or purified water, are also "unnatural", but that also implies that there is some agreement with the premise that homosexuality is unnatural.)

  53. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Various;

    You misunderstand me. What I'm saying is that the answer to the argument that "Homosexuality is unnatural" is "So?". Dental hygiene is unnatural too, shall we abandon it? Natural vs unnatural is an irrelevant argument, and ignorant on both sides.

    The "arsenic is poison, homosexuality isn't" rebuttal strikes me as particularly ill judged, since a segment of the anti-homosexual population argues that the Gay lifestyle spreads disease, and has statistics to "prove" this.

  54. Excellent post, but I have a small request about the language used in point 6. "Companies" don't make decisions; people do. "corporate decision making" should be referred to as "decisions reached by corporate executives." This is a world in which humans are the actors, not abstractions like governments, nations, and corporations.

  55. Not the IT Dept. says:

    The guy wears camouflage to shoot ducks. Enough said.

    There's a lot of speculation that the whole thing was an advertising gimmick by A&E, which made its announcement before there was any real public criticism at all. And certainly a lot more people know about the show today than they did three weeks ago.

    Also: they're actors impersonating rednecks. No group of vertebrates actually looks like these freaks in real life, and their shtick is good-ol'-boy-lovin'-me-some-Jesus for the audience. It looks like a well-thought-out PR plan worked out fine.

  56. Tarrou says:

    Several commenters have said things in the vein of "well, maybe the reaction to the homosexuality answer was over the top, but RACISM".

    I encourage those people to go back and read what Robertson actually said, not just the commentary and imputation. He said that in his experience, he had never personally seen any black people mistreated, and that under Jim Crow, the black people he worked with were "godly and happy".

    Now, he may have misread his black acquaintances. He may be misremembering the entire thing. But nothing he said is necessarily racist. He didn't say Jim Crow was a good thing. He's relating his experiences, and who of us was around rural Louisiana fifty years ago to dispute him? If one of his neighbors from back then wants to take him up on it, have at it, but none of us know the counterfactual.

    And it isn't racist to assert that any group may have been "better off" under a racist system. Consider Rhodesia, the exemplar of racist colonial african apartheid systems. The system was a massive crime against humanity, but it is blindingly obvious that what it was replaced with was much, much worse. One need not condone white oppression to note that Mugabe has been worse.

    If one starts from the proposition (which I disagree with) that "godliness" is the most important measure of a people, I see no reason why one wouldn't be able to make the argument that black americans were more godly while being oppressed. It may or may not be true, but there is nothing of a slight against black americans in that statement*. Black americans might dispute the assertion, they might rightly point out that civil rights are not subject to "godliness" in our society. But there is no whiff of "blacks are inferior" about it.

    And it may be that Robertson is privately harboring thoughts of black inferiority. But we should not be quick to impute those thoughts to him, because it is not obvious from his statements. And it would be bigoted (ironic, no?) to take his statements less charitably because of who he is (old, white, southern). That would be (say it with me now!) RAAAAAAAAAAAAAACIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSST!

    * A quote from a black blogger, "Obsidian", discussing the black family

    Jim Crow ironically was the chief element responsible for keeping Black families, couples, indeed, entire communities together. As history now easily bears witness to, the moment African Americans were no longer bound by draconian and second-class citizen rules and strictures, was the moment the “Black Family”, such as it was, began to undergo a marked, and deeply profound, change.

  57. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Okay, so Robertson wasn't racist, he was clueless and somehow managed to miss the past fifty years of historical documentation of what life was like for blacks in the South. Again, a guy who wears camo to shoot ducks.

    Tarrou – dude. Projection much?

  58. azteclady says:

    Thank you–have a wonderful Christmas!

    May the new year bring you all health and joy and prosperity.

  59. Tarrou says:

    @ NTITD

    I don't follow……….projection? And the proper sarcastic usage is "Project much?". The verb form is necessary for the adverbial modifier. Grammar Pedant awaaaaaaaaaaaay!

  60. Gail BK says:

    I don't think A&E is behaving inconsistently at all. They put on a show guaranteed to provoke interest, knowing full well that it would eventually implode when the characters behaved as everyone expected that they would. A&E very likely planned to enjoy the profitable ride until that point, and then write the show off. We all do that. We buy a crappy used car, planning to drive it until it falls apart, and then get another one. That doesn't mean that we fully embraced and endorsed the values of the crappy used car, and are subsequently SHOCKED and hurt that it failed us. It's an economic decision. The idea that A&E has any political stance at all in this–either in greenlighting the show in the first place, or in deciding to suspend Duck Dude–is silly. It's just money, and that's what corporations do.

  61. Matthew Cline says:

    @Demosthenes:

    The key word here, of course, is "should." Most notable is the fact that "should" is not semantically equivalent to "are forbidden to." The Preferred First Speaker doctrine, if that's what you wish to call it, does not legally proscribe any conduct. It is a normative theory that encapsulates a viewpoint on what tolerance for the speech of others would actually look like.

    But why should people act that way? Do people need more encouragement to be first speaker than to respond? Or is this a non-utilitarian "should", derived from first principle?

    @Tarrou:

    But nothing he said is necessarily racist. He didn't say Jim Crow was a good thing. He's relating his experiences, and who of us was around rural Louisiana fifty years ago to dispute him?

    But (so far as I'm aware) he wasn't asked about his experiences with Jim Crow, but what he thought about it; that is, his opinion of it. Since in response he shared his experiences, he must have thought that his opinion was derivable from the experiences he shared, and that he didn't need to share any more to make that opinion clear. So it would seem that his opinion is that blacks were happy with Jim Crow (if he had meant that were happy despite Jim Crow he would have provided more context). Saying that oppressed group X liked being oppressed is offensive, regardless of whether or not it fits the technical definition of the relevant -ism.

  62. Brad Hutchings (@BradHutchings) says:

    Ken, you really need to add a #11… I have a few ideas:

    11. Irony doesn't work well on Twitter. Blame childhood lead exposure and fluoridated water.

    11. Pretty girls have no right to be anything but pretty.

    11. When Anil Dash ends up in top results of a trending topic, Twitter is back on the road to Turdistan.

  63. Jim Salter says:

    Ken, I'm not sure I'm with you on #7 – at least, not with your choice of example. Without the retweeting and the hashtags, would Justine Sacco have gotten fired in the first place? I'm not so sure.

    #HasJustineLandedYet is pretty civil, all things considered. It isn't violent, misogynist, or doxing. (If you wanted to point at particular retweets that DID include examples of same, then sure.)

  64. Handle says:

    Amazing; not even a single mention of chilling effects.

  65. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries says:

    @Aonghus

    Another Robinson, (Spider) once tried to describe that moment when you realize that what you thought was a polite conversation with another person is, in fact, just a bunch of meaningless noises that neither of you comprehend. (I believe the word he used was frizion, but I may be wrong.)

    The word is rupture. He quoted Chip Delaney in, IIRC, one of the Lady Sally books and went on to embroider the concept with reference to different maps and the Grand Canyon. The quote was collected in OtWaC:

    "Rupture" occurs when you think you are in the middle of a conversation with someone… and suddenly discover that you’ve merely been making noises at each other, that there is a previously unsuspected chasm between you.   —Chip Delany

    Robinson, Spider (2011-01-11). Off the Wall at Callahan's (Callahan series) (Kindle Locations 239-241). Kindle Edition.

  66. PonyAdvocate says:

    @SIV

    A PR flak is the last person who should be "cut slack" for offensive tweeting. It isn't what Justine Sacco said so much as saying it clearly shows she is grossly incompetent at her chosen profession. Never working in PR again seems a most appropriate consequence.

    Granted. Apart from her controversial tweet, I know nothing about Justine Sacco, but I will assume for the sake of this discussion that she is an ordinarily decent person, and her tweet was the result of thoughtlessness and tone-deafness. What her employer does about the tweet is between Justine Sacco and her employer. If I were her employer, I most likely would discipline her, too. Similarly, what others who have a relationship with Justine Sacco do about her tweet is between her and them. But (and if I understand Mr. White correctly, he would agree with me here) the world at large need not — ought not to — pile on her. She said a stupid thing in public, and who among us has never done that? She probably regrets having done so, and has probably learned a lesson. The rest of us would do well to remember "There but for the grace of God go I", and all that.

    When a person says asshole things, one can come to one of at least two conclusions: one can conclude, as I did with Justine Sacco, that saying such a thing is uncharacteristic, and the person most likely regrets it. I am, of course, willing to change my conclusion should new and relevant evidence come to light.

    Another conclusion one can reach is that a person says asshole things because he or she is, in fact, an asshole. Contrast the case of Justine Sacco with that of the Duck guy, who voluntarily chose to become a very public persona, and who prominently and proudly espoused some deeply felt, really asshole sentiments. The evidence at hand leads me (and many others, apparently) to conclude that the Duck guy is, in fact, an asshole, and proud of it. This being the case, the Duck guy has, in an important sense, volunteered to have opprobrium heaped on him, and the world at large is obliging him. I wouldn't fear for the Duck guy, however. Many powerful people, themselves proud assholes, are leaping to his defense.

  67. Xenocles says:

    "The "arsenic is poison, homosexuality isn't" rebuttal strikes me as particularly ill judged, since a segment of the anti-homosexual population argues that the Gay lifestyle spreads disease…"

    It is also inapt because most of the religious-based arguments against homosexual conduct seem to be founded on the idea that such conduct is bad for your soul. You don't have to agree with that assertion, and I certainly don't, but it does tend to be internally consistent. Likewise the counterargument "But it's my natural desire to be with my own gender" doesn't answer this line of reasoning any more than "But I like cookies so much" is a good response to the warning that a lot of sugar is bad for you. You have to attack the arguments at the foundation, not the ones that follow from it.

  68. TM says:

    Is there some other quotes from Phil Robertson other than the GQ article that other people are referring to, because while some of the things he said certainly fall into the "bless his heart" category, I didn't read anything that struck me as particularly offensive. Yeah, he said homosexuality is in his opinion, a sin. He also said fornicating, adultery, bestiality, and greed were as well. And he certainly didn't claim he was sin free or better than anyone. Last I heard he freely admits to having been and done some terrible things, that doesn't strike me as someone judging others and holding himself to a different standard. I suppose the idea that some people find your way of life to be a sin could be offensive, but well frankly there are people all over the world who think your particular ways of life are a sin. You're better off ignoring them and living your life than getting yourself worked up over the opinions of people who don't matter.

  69. Andrew Timson says:

    "Companies" don't make decisions; people do. "corporate decision making" should be referred to as "decisions reached by corporate executives." This is a world in which humans are the actors, not abstractions like governments, nations, and corporations.

    Humans may be the actors, but when they're generally considered to be legally immune from the consequences of their actions on an abstraction's behalf, it makes sense to refer to the actions as belonging to the entities who are at least nominally liable (the governments, nations, and corporations).

  70. ULTRAGOTHA says:

    The Justine Sacco thing was, at least when I was following the hashtag, a huge slice of schadenfreude pie. People munching popcorn waiting for her to land in Cape Town and find out what she'd set off.

    Peppered with brilliant Sean Bean memes and Google search photoshops and lots of links to AIDS and Africa charities.

    There were, of course, some calling for her to be fired. (And others calling for even more horrible things–but in a world where people send death and rape threats for asking for a woman to be on a ten pound note, that's disgusting and evil but not surprising.) But most were waiting for the inevitable consequences and marveling that the whole Twitterverse could know about this and she had no clue.

    As the head of PR for an internet company that exists through social media, and who had her company's name on her Twitter profile, not to mention the Other-mocking posts in the rest of her time line, that firing was all but inevitable.

  71. Brad Hutchings (@BradHutchings) says:

    not to mention the Other-mocking posts in the rest of her time line, that firing was all but inevitable.

    You mean like these? (From this story)


    Hours before, she had called London the home of “cucumber sandwiches” and “bad teeth,” while she has previously tweeted “I like animals, but when it’s this cold out I’ll skin one myself for the fur” – at the animal rights group PETA.

    Lighten up. She is a witty person batting about .800 with her snark. I expect that she'll probably have some hilarious dirt on her bosses straight up to B-Diller himself. Proportionality and all that :-).

  72. David Schwartz says:

    @C. S. P. Schofield: I disagree that the answer to "Homosexuality is unnatural" is "So?". Why concede a false claim? The easiest way to rebut the invalid arguments that follow from this premise is to show that the premise is utter nonsense. Why permit bigoted ignorance, even if irrelevant, to persist?

  73. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    David,

    All I'm saying is that by entering the argument you are being distracted from a much more important principle. I suppose you could reply "So is religion.", or something of that ilk. But the principle remains. What does being "Natural" have to do with anything? The majority of what makes life pleasant – hobbies, cooking, etc. – is unnatural. Marriage is unnatural. Natural, for the Great Apes, is sitting in trees picking parasites off of ones relatives.

  74. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    To clarify;

    I think the basic principle in favor of equal treatment for homosexuals is "Why the %^$%& is it any of your business?". My sex life isn't the business of anyone but whatever partners I can persuade to volunteer, plus anyone who I have made promises to in that area. I don't see what this doesn't apply to everyone who sticks to volunteers. I think every other argument is an attempt to distract from this core issue.

    What makes me a political Crank is that I think this same argument mitigates against sex education in public schools. There are arguments in favor of making sure the little darlings have a clue, but it gives the government the idea that it has some business worrying about sex, and that strikes me as being full of possibilities, all of them bad.

  75. Sami says:

    @CSP Schofield: I was, in fact, including "natural" because "it's plain unnatural" is a popular anti-homosexuality argument, and the correct reply is not "So?" because the initial claim is not true.

    It's true that arsenic is natural, but I never said it wasn't; it's also worth noting that arsenic is also critically necessary for human survival. Yes, it's a poison if taken in excess, but then… so is everything else. Water will kill you if you have enough of it – water intoxication is nastier than alcohol intoxication. It's all a matter of scale.

    Don't be deliberately obtuse.

    The suggestion that sex education in public schools is bad because it "gives the government the idea that it has some business worrying about sex" is patently ridiculous.

    Sex education in schools is predicated on the idea the the government has some business worrying about education, which it absolutely does.

  76. Anthelme says:

    Merry festivus to all, and thanks for your work this year, I've found the whole 1st ammendment thing very interesting coming from down under as I do where its not as free as I think it should be.

    Also thanks to the people who comment, have been a highlight of my lunch break going through things.

  77. Teej says:

    "Hey, I'm not a racist. Slavery is in the bible!"

    "Hey, I'm not a suppressive man. Wife-beating is in the bible!"

    "Hey, I'm not a controlling person. Stoning for sins is in the bible!"

    Hiding behind a book should not give anyone a free pass, and that should be consistently pointed out in a clear manner.

  78. David Schwartz says:

    @C. S. P. Schofield: I think it's at least as important to address the bigoted ignorance behind the claim that homosexuality is unnatural as it is to address the bigoted ignorance that frequently follows from it.

    That sex life is private business is an argument you will likely never win against people who have religious objections to homosexuality. It would be a poor strategic choice to make that one's first choice of arguments — too much of religion is based on God's extreme concern about what people do with their genitals.

  79. Rick H. says:

    Amazing; not even a single mention of chilling effects.

    Exactly my thought. Honesty is a foundation of discourse. All this idiotic groupthink is merely encouraging people with stupid or disagreeable ideas to lie and pretend. And making our side look like bullies in the process.

  80. Ethan says:

    Splendid points, its certainly made me consider a few things.

  81. Ken White says:

    "Chilling effect" is actually a First Amendment concept usually invoked when the vagueness of a speech-prohibiting law deters even legal speech because the line between legal and illegal is unclear.

    When used, in effect, to say "shut up about what I said, or you might chill me from speaking again," it is not a coherent theory.

  82. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Y'all seek to destroy the argument. I would like to see the validity of the criteria destroyed.

    Given the mongolian clusterfuck that is our public education system, I am unconvinced that the government DOES have a legitimate place in education. But, as I may have rearmed once or twice before, I'm a political Crank.

    In any case, I will wish you well with your arguments, and hope you will do the same for mine. I will remain against government regulation of sex beyond "Keep your word to your partners, and don't do it in the streets (its distracting)".

  83. Jyjon says:

    I don't get it. Why is everyone in a tizzy. They asked his opinion, he gave it. He didn't go out and beat anyone, he didn't discriminate against anyone. He expressed a religious opinion.

    I'd think that the lawyers here would get that concept that thinking something isn't the same as doing something. He hasn't done anything to cause any uproar.

    If you honestly don't like fundamentalist christian beliefs, then WHY THE HELL DID YOU READ IT?

    And if you look at it from a financial perspective, all 3 parties are cleaning house with this. A&E might look like jerks to some of you, they look like hero's to others. Nothing sells tchotchkes faster than patriotic melarchy. And there's so much of that going around, I'm sure they've sold out, or are close to selling out their entire inventories of crap.

  84. Fasolt says:

    I believe this says it all for Ken's #10 point: http://www.funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/598909/Offensensitivity/

  85. A&E entered into a business relationship with a wealthy family whose wealth was built on an invention for duck hunting to portray people commonly stereotyped as "rednecks" in a particular manner. Specifically, to portray those people as nothing at all objectionable, as though growing up white and religious in the deep South doesn't inculcate any attitudes the rest of the nation might find objectiveness if aired. (To be clear, growing up white and in the wealthier suburbs of Philly has given me my own peculiar collection of attitudes, but I try to have the decency to be aware of them)

    In short, to be to white Southerners what the Cosby Show is/was to African-Americans living in NYC, but without the humor: a carefully sanitized fiction accented with some of the cultural markers of the people it supposedly portrays, with the "reality" coming from most filming being on location instead of on a sound stage.

    Mr. Robertson was hired to play a character and to play that character 24/7, or at least any time he was in public or on camera. (It'd be hard to argue that talking to a reporter in a scheduled interview wasn't "in public" – it isn't as though GQ ambushed him on his lawn) He gave the interview "in character", but deviated from a key aspect of this character as it had been portrayed on TV.

    Therefore, A&E suspended him. I find myself puzzled mostly by why this is a big deal that anyone should care about. I mean, popehat, sure – the mechanics of how people respond to various speech acts are something often featured here, but why did half my Facebook feed blow up with this? (For once, the part of my FB feed consisting of people I barely knew in high school is the more tolerable half to watch, because they don't seem to have noticed this, whereas a bunch of people I went to college with are busy responding to what I can only assume are people they went to HS with our met later being very upset about the suspension)

    Sure, A&E's response seems a bit disproportionate, at least before I learn that this doesn't affect all the other follow-on businesses this person and his family have (that is, this isn't the end of his primary source of income, and even if it were he is independently sufficiently wealthy that he'll never be out on the street) – this doesn't make anything right, but the context makes the action less harsh and so affects considerations of proportionality. So in the end you have a millionaire celebrity saying things to an interviewer that cause the entertainment conglomerate currently employing him to replace him on the show. (c.f. Charlie Sheen and 2.5 Men) Why is this being covered by anything other than TMZ?

    I had really hoped that if I kept writing, I would get to a conclusion or at least a vague emotion about this, but no such luck. I can't even manage a heartfelt "a pox on both their houses" – some celebrity I'd never heard of said something that caused his replacement in some crappy show significantly less entertaining than National Geographic specials, which is generally my bottom threshold for "show must have this much entertainment value to beat out Wii Sports for control of the TV".

  86. Xennady says:

    Gail BK,

    Except the show hasn't imploded at all. It still garners record-high ratings and A&E is still showing it.

    And if you believe that A&E has no political stance in making a television show about a family of bearded Christians who hunt almost every day and made a fortune by inventing a device to attract ducks- well, sure. But I suggest you read a book entitled "Hollywood versus America", by Michael Medved. He detailed how the studios essentially bankrupted themselves in the 1970s-80s by making movies aligned with the political predilections of the studio executives and against those of the audience.

    It seems today's execs are smarter, as they've learned to collect a few golden eggs from the goose before clubbing it to death.

    Bless their hearts.

  87. Erin McJ says:

    Thanks for this. My Twitter feed blew up about two things the other day: #JustineSacco and KU's new social media policy. Any comment on the latter? It bothered me that the responses to the two incidents were so dissimilar, but I don't know whether it should've.

  88. Jim Salter says:

    CSP Schofeld is right – you shouldn't argue whether homosexuality is "natural" for the same reasons you shouldn't argue whether it's pale green. Or smells like rhubarb pie. Whether you believe you can disprove the point or not, it's a red herring and debating it does nothing but derail the REAL topic, which is whether people have the right to have consensual sex with whomever they please.

    To a lesser extent, this is also true of debates (outside moral-value-neutral scientific contexts) about whether homosexuality is a "choice".

  89. SirWired says:

    On the whole "What is the proper response to the argument that homosexuality is unnatural." I think the answer is, if confronted with this argument is to say BOTH "But it's not unnatural" AND "naturalness is irrelevant to the discussion." Both points are important to make, and neither is more important than the other; they attack the line of argument from two different fronts. Two counter-arguments seems better than one to me… countering with "naturalness" says that the bigot's facts are wrong, and countering with "irrelevancy" says that the bigot's opinions are also wrong.

    Those that are arguing that homosexuality is unnatural are trying to get across the point that it is a choice, and therefore like any choice, is usually subject to consequences. As in, we should treat sexual preference like we treat choice of political party vs. how we treat somebody for their race. Firing back that homosexuality is not, in fact, a choice, counters that line of reasoning by equating homophobia with, say, racism.

    But, it is certainly ALSO important to mention that it is irrelevant to the larger discussion, as there are many things that are "natural" that unequivocally bad and should be, and are, completely illegal (this even applies to some sexual practices), and, of course, the reverse is also true; therefore the "naturalness" of a sexual behavior does not provide useful information as to its morality or if it should be subject to societal or governmental scrutiny.

  90. ShelbyC says:

    I hear people using the term "free speech" to refer to situations where only private action is used to suppress speech all the time, most commonly referring to private educational settings. California even has a law applying the first amendment to private schools. There is a separate conversion to be had about speech, and how tolerant we should be of speech that we don't like, that has nothing to do with the first amendment. Should be, as a society, deal with deviant thought by putting economic and social pressure on people to force them to squelch their views, or should we deal with it by engaging in more speech?

    There are two very important principals underlying the first amendment. The first is that people have a fundamental right to express themselves being punished by the state. The second this that the marketplace of ideas is the best way to further knowledge. The former is not implicated by private action, but the latter is.

  91. Kirk Taylor says:

    Was surprised to find a Funny Junk link in a Popehat comments section…

  92. Mercury says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens here but (depending on contractual obligations etc.) a large segment of the American public may just call A&E’s bluff by showering the Robertsons with their attention and money at some other media outlet. In other words, as has often been the case in the past, the standards set by the nation’s cultural elite and Persons of Quality may not be enough to resist certain strains of popular culture.

    I’ll spare you the outrage outrage and generally I’m very live-and-let-live in this context but the Anti-Robertson League may have overplayed their hand here considering that: 1) everyone knows that some Old & New Testament views on social issues are a tad outdated by modern standards. Many, including Phil Robertson, still default to the Bible’s cover-to-cover value system in this regard. If he stated much beyond that in the GQ interview (like inciting a riot) I missed it. Big. Deal. 2) “homophobic” is a clever but often disingenuous and/or inaccurate term and I think it rubs a lot of decent people the wrong way and 3) Let’s face it, Christians are a soft target at this point. If you want to impress me with an issue like this in the public square, take the piss out of some representatives from one of the other desert religions for similar behavior. One will require a particularly high level of bravery on your part.
    Happy hunting.

  93. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    I have to say that I agree with Mercury that "Homophobic" is a term that has been, to put it politely, overused. In particular, when I was in DC, there were Gays that hung around Dupont Circle (known locally as The Fruit Loop) that would try to pick up straight guys and loudly accuse them of being "Homophobic" when turned down. My favorite way to deal with this was to reply "No. I'm Jerkophobic". I mean, Jesus Wept! Trying to pick up people on the street? No chatting up? No, dinner or drinks? If they were straight, they'd get arrested doing that, and I'm not sure it would be an example of Feminist overreaction.

    I'm not convinced, however, that homophobic is an over-the-top description in the Duck Dynasty case, though. Not to say that the Duck call guy is wrong to express his actual opinion when asked; after all the world beat a path to his door. His opinion my be wrong. Maybe it will or should (but beware of should) cause the world to beat a path AWAY from his door. But he has a right to be wrong, even crass. This is something that gets missed a lot in First Amendment debates. Far too many people appear to think that being "wrong" abrogates one's Fist Amendment rights. That's hogwash. You have a right to be wrong. You have a right to not be corrected by the threat of government force. Now, that doesn't mean that you have a right to not catch a shower of opprobrium is society thinks you are wrong. Further more, f you did theoretically have such a right, it still wouldn't happen.

    I think in this case the Politically Gay are going to get shocked. I agree with them that the opinions expressed in this case are homophobic. But I think we're going to find out that the majority of the public simply. Doesn't. Care.

  94. Ken White says:

    "Homophobic" is no doubt overused, though many criticisms of the term tend to ignore that -phobic refers to distaste as well as fear.

    One might ask, though, whether "homophobic" is more overused than any other unflattering socio-political label.

  95. Phelps says:

    Set aside the first amendment — what about the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

  96. Ken White says:

    @Phelps:

    The conflict between Title VII and free speech is far more interesting, legally speaking, and may be the subject of a future post.

    That's a cop-out because the answer is long.

  97. Garrett says:

    There's a saying that a fanatic is somebody who won't change their mind and won't change the subject. John Stewart Mill, in On Liberty, argued that in order to have Liberty we must tolerate those who have drastically different (even offensive) viewpoints.
    If somebody has a different point of view, even one than is offensive to all Right Thinking People, but is at least willing to change the subject then I would argue that civil society shouldn't go out of their way to punish them for their viewpoints. Now, if they also won't change the subject then I can understand a desire to no longer associate with them.

  98. Mercury says:

    “Homophobic” is just a sloppy neologism in that it appears to mean “fear of things that are the same” when it is always used to imply the opposite. Even if you take it as a contraction of “homosexual-phobic” it’s still (purposely, I think) a sloppy catch-all tag for all anti-homosexual expression. I say purposely because the intent of the popularizes of the term was almost certainly to put the expresser of anti-homosexual views on the defensive by implying that their expression is fear-based…which may or may not be true in any given case. Clever that.

    You can genuinely dislike any number of things –like broccoli- without necessarily being afraid of them and even if that fear is completely irrational it usually and primarily comes at the expense of the person with the wacky phobia, not the focus of the fear. But you rarely see people who throw around “homophobic” as being inclined to help the (alleged) afflicted with their unfounded fears as they otherwise might if that fear were based on flying or spiders or something: “Ha-ha, no Mr. Robertson, there is nothing to fear here! You must not be aware but science has now proven that…”.

    Of course sometimes irrational fear does lead directly to people doing terrible harm to others. But if people who fear “witches” for instance work themselves into a lather and string up a bunch of otherwise innocent teen-age girls they should be held to account for murder and possibly a great deal more but not for their “phobia” or their “hate” as would likely be the primary focus of such charges today. Sorry but I just can’t see the “progress” in policing thoughts instead of or even alongside of actions. In fact I do not think this trend will end well at all. I’m well aware that there is a difference between legal prosecution and opprobrium in the public square (as the result of free-expression) but the fact is the later has recently shaped the former in very significant ways.

    In any case etymology is beside the point since “homophobic” clearly aspires to the awesome magical power that “racist” has now achieved; an anti-blasphemy spell which, even in the hands of a level-1 mage has the monster stopping power of a tactical nuke, sensibly deployed or not. Ironically, the concept of blasphemy is making a serious comeback these days but Phil Robertson is finding himself on the wrong side of that revival.

    I suppose this is all still better than solving such issues through violence which is how we humans have typically rolled in the past. So, two cheers for that.

  99. Thanks, Ken; this is an awesome post. I'm not Christian, but I'll take this as your gift to me as one of your readers. Merry Christmas to all!

  100. Ken White says:

    I suppose this is all still better than solving such issues through violence which is how we humans have typically rolled in the past. So, two cheers for that.

    I think this is a rather crucial point, particularly when we live in a world where in many places people still are murdered or imprisoned for critical speech.

  101. Xenocles says:

    I agree with Mercury and Ken about it being better – by far – than violence. The right-thinking people should probably be careful, however, to not clamp down so tightly as to make violence look like the only option for the unpopular group. (I say this as a practical judgement, not a moral one – violence is the responsibility of the violent but surely we can consider ways to make it easier for others to do the right thing or to avoid putting ourselves at risk.)

    Maybe it's the influence of my Christian roots in this season but it occurs to me that giving people the treatment they deserve might not always be the right thing to do.

  102. Ken White says:

    The right-thinking people should probably be careful, however, to not clamp down so tightly as to make violence look like the only option for the unpopular group.

    This cuts both ways.

    Vigorous social consequences — including the ones that inspire some people to talk about mobs — are the alternative to legal suppression through our criminal and civil justice systems.

    If your message is "it's wrong to boycott companies based on speech you hate" — in other words, that it's wrong to engage in effective response-speech measures — then people may start to think, "well, hell. Why shouldn't we just let the government regulate this?"

    Assuming for the sake of argument that social consequences can be mobbish, it's a safety valve that lets mobbish impulses be expressed through social rather than governmental means.

  103. Xenocles says:

    No, Ken – I agree that reprisals are often necessary and proper. I'm mostly concerned with the way the trend looks sometimes. How much longer until we have an unofficial permanent underclass the way we have now officially with ex-cons? Certainly many members of both classes deserve punishment. Many do not deserve trust. But many get swept up in momentary mistakes (both by themselves and by the people who witness the incidents), and I am increasingly uncertain that imposing a permanent disability on them – even by encouraging others to voluntarily treat them as lepers – is good for us.

    All I'm really saying is that we owe it to ourselves more than anyone to be flexible in our assessment of wrongdoers, and to be hesitant to take irreversible action or to make permanent judgement.

  104. Clark says:

    @AlphaCentauri

    In fact, AFAIK, the money goes to Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and they donate to various public broadcasting stations.

    The joke goes "when a citizen lies to the government, that's a felony; when the government lies to citizens, that's politics".

    Similarly: if any of us behaved the way the government does (giving money to the CPB and then letting CPB give it to PBS so that PBS can claim that it receives no federal funds), it'd be called "money laundering".

    @Chris R

    SIV, PBS was not founded by the Federal government and is only 15% funded by the government. It was founded by an individual (Hartford N. Gunn Jr) and it's predecessor National Education Television was founded by grant from the Ford Foundation.

    Allow me to retort:

    (a) money laundering, (b) founded by national socialist sympathizers, (c) 80 years of deep-Cathedral coordination, working hand-in-hand with the organs of the Democratic party and progressive left NGOs on everything from the race baiting schemes like La Raza, to socialist goals like "economic fairness" to growing the government monopoly on education.

    Oh, and speaking of "money laundering" and "deep Cathedral", recall that when the deep-blue CIA wants its cash laundered, it knows who to call.

  105. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Ken,

    "One might ask, though, whether "homophobic" is more overused than any other unflattering socio-political label."

    I suppose that would depend on whether any other unflattering socio-political label was widely used to try to shame people into having sex with people they would otherwise prefer not to.

    And, I have to say, did that EVER work? Seriously? I mean, I did run into it in multiple areas, but it made ME shift emotionally from flattered but uninterested to a mild desire (that I didn't indulge) to punch the guy. That CAN'T be a good pick-up strategy.

  106. Bruce Coulson says:

    A point raised by a (very few) commentators; if you lack protection of free speech for 54% of your time, (the time you spend at work), then do you truly have free speech? Especially when comments made when you are not at work can be used against you?

  107. Ken White says:

    Bruce: the question, as framed, assumes what it means to prove — it assumes that "free speech" means freedom from social (and with it, economic) consequence. It assumes "free speech may mean my employer should have to keep employing me even if my speech annoys or offends my employer or makes my employer concerned about bad publicity," which is smuggling a gigantic argument.

  108. jdgalt says:

    I'm with Bruce — without freedom from consequences as bad as job loss, you really aren't free, even if the government leaves you alone. Understanding this is the difference between a shallow "property-rights libertarian" and a cultural libertarian.

    Eric Raymond puts it better than I can.

  109. Dictatortot says:

    Ken's right: "free speech" DOESN'T mean freedom from social or economic consequences. I'm worried, though: if the social consequences become sufficiently mobbish & virulent, if they get marshalled against ever-increasing numbers & classes of opponents, and if they start to replace debate or dialogue as the default response to hearing something you don't like … well, that's not just a recipe for an illiberal polity, but for a wholly non-functioning one.

    To use Ken's terms, once the expression of mobbish impulses through social rather than governmental means becomes common enough–once it threatens to becomes the default dialectic among enough people–it's no longer a "safety valve," but a civic safety hazard in its own right.

    I confess, though, it's hard to figure out any way of addressing the problem that isn't as bad. But treating this kind of issue as a feature of free society, rather than an incipient bug, seems too blithe by half.

  110. Ken White says:

    Perhaps when I return from hiatus, if I do so, I will write a post asking questions about what not being a mob looks like.

    My sense right now is that a lot if it can be summarized as "you have to shut up to this person is free to speak." Which is why I don't see it as a particularly coherent free speech policy.

  111. Paul Baxter says:

    Re point #8:

    Perhaps this is an irrelevant technicality, but within certain communities, an appeal to a religious text, divinely inspired is (and should be!) the end of argument on the subject.

    If a lawyer went to argue before the supreme court and among her arguments stated that she did not believe the bill of rights should trump whatever theory she was presenting, this wouldn't be recognized as a valid legal argument since the constitution (with amendments) is held to be the highest law.

    If a community, particularly a monotheistic one, appeals to a text which is accepted as coming from the god who created and rules the universe, then that in fact is where the buck stops. It isn't logical to simultaneously hold that 1) statement x comes directly from god and 2) statement x is debatable.

    I realize that there are plenty of folks who either do not believe in any particular god or do not accept any particular text as having come from (a) god.

  112. Ted Levy says:

    I was REALLY upset over what he said about drunkards and adulterers…

  113. Ken White says:

    Cathy Young has some discussion of other boycotts illustrating why I think at least some of the outrage over this was contrived.

  114. Dictatortot says:

    [Deleted accidental duplicate post]

  115. Dictatortot says:

    My sense right now is that a lot if it can be summarized as "you have to shut up so this person is free to speak." Which is why I don't see it as a particularly coherent free speech policy.

    You're perfectly right about that. But even a free-speech policy that's perfectly coherent on paper can become merely de jure in practice. It's happened in the past, and one senses a non-trivial chance of its happening in our future. In such a case, the fact that our policies might remain 100% theoretically squarable with libertarian principles is kind of cold comfort.

  116. inode_buddha says:

    @ CSP –

    But, what if they *are* a bunch of pillocks?

  117. Francis says:

    RCP also has an article – a link to which can be found at the bottom of Cathy's article — by Michelle Malkin entitled "GLAAD: Lethal Enforcers of the Left's Tolerance Mob".

    I have no idea whether Ms. Malkin or GLAAD can claim more active followers. But with regard to the posts above about mobs, speech suppression and right-thinking people, I think the jury is very much still out as to which side is more intolerant.

  118. Xenocles says:

    I wasn't really intending to offer a policy. Policies strike me as top-down sorts of things, though I suppose this need not be the case. If you want a policy, perhaps this would be my offering:

    1) You are free to spend your time, speech, and resources as you see fit.
    2) You should consider what you are doing with your time, speech, and resources before you commit them. Maybe ask something like "Will my specific contribution here make the world a better place, or at least more like the sort of world I want?" And really dig deeply, since just as with a houseplant some water is good but fifty gallons of it is usually disastrous. It's often the case that you're going to be that fiftieth gallon when even five is too much.

    The order of these statements is deliberate.

  119. David Schwartz says:

    @jdgalt: "I'm with Bruce — without freedom from consequences as bad as job loss, you really aren't free, even if the government leaves you alone."

    The problem is, the only way to have this freedom is for the government to compel people to associate with people they would rather not associate with. Your free speech is no threat to me until you claim that it entitles you to special privileges from the government.

    I value my freedom not to associate with bigots more than the ability to compel bigots to associate with me against their will.

  120. Dion starfire says:

    Does the principle of #7 (that eagerly awaiting for the downfall of another is deplorable) also apply to Prenda? I hope like h*ll there's an exception for them in there somewhere.

    Also, if we can't trust Ken to be right, honest and balanced all the time, who can we trust? First the church, then the government, now Ken. Next you're going to tell me that the police aren't protecting us, either.

    p.s. Is it to late to get in on the "homosexuality is unnatural" debate? Because I've always thought that's the worst you could say about homosexuality, and it's not all that bad (as others have already pointed out)

  121. James Pollock says:

    If a lawyer went to argue before the supreme court and among her arguments stated that she did not believe the bill of rights should trump whatever theory she was presenting, this wouldn't be recognized as a valid legal argument since the constitution (with amendments) is held to be the highest law.

    Feel free to reconcile this with the fact that a great many Constitutional questions are settled by a 5-4 vote. The only part of the Bill of Rights that's clear and unambiguous is the one about quartering soldiers.

    If a community, particularly a monotheistic one, appeals to a text which is accepted as coming from the god who created and rules the universe, then that in fact is where the buck stops. It isn't logical to simultaneously hold that 1) statement x comes directly from god and 2) statement x is debatable.

    The problem is that it's NOT what's in the text that matters. It's what people BELIEVE to be in the text that matters. That's how you can have different factions (even different religions) that share the same holy text. The magic keywords are "emanances" and "penumbras". The Constitution does not contain the word "abortion". The Bible does not contain the word "evolution". And yet there are people with strong opinions on those subjects, who feel their texts support (usually strongly) their positions.

  122. Ampersand says:

    I don't want the government punishing employers for firing people for their political opinions.

    But I would like it if there were severe social sanctions against employers who do that.

  123. Ampersand says:

    "One might ask, though, whether "homophobic" is more overused than any other unflattering socio-political label."

    I suppose that would depend on whether any other unflattering socio-political label was widely used to try to shame people into having sex with people they would otherwise prefer not to.

    I don't think that comment is reality-based. The tens of thousands of people calling the Duck Dynasty guy a homophobe do not want to sleep with him; they want him to stop hating on gays.

    Given the law of large numbers (huge numbers of people exist and say stupid things to try and get other people to have sex with them), I'm sure that what you're talking about has happened. But it's hardly the common usage of "homophobe."

    (There are, by the way, labels used to try to shame people into having sex. Such as "prude," and the related terms "frigid" and "tease." They're not commonly used against men.)

  124. Ampersand says:

    Is there some other quotes from Phil Robertson other than the GQ article that other people are referring to, because while some of the things he said certainly fall into the "bless his heart" category, I didn't read anything that struck me as particularly offensive.

    Well, then, how about this comment, said by Robinson when he was preaching?

    Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions. They're full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.

    I think the folks who sized Robertson up as a gay-hater sized him up pretty accurately.

  125. tom says:

    Does LICD read popehat?

  126. Dave Fernig says:

    Excellent post. On "natural" vs "unnatural", the car is definitely not natural and proven to kill. Not a useful argument.
    Have a great break – I have to follow the "Great Wall of Britain" our politicos have erected to censor the internet and which most of the ISPs have caved in to.

  127. Demosthenes says:

    From the "Sentences I Never Thought I'd Write" Files: I agree with Camille Paglia. Apparently, politics does indeed make strange bedfellows…

    Paglia quote here

    Most people (though not by any means all) seem fairly clear on the legal aspects of this situation. Robertson had the right to say what he did. GLAAD and its members had the right to protest as they did. A&E and its executives had the right to dissociate themselves from Robertson's remarks by dissociating themselves from Robertson. None of this should be in any dispute.

    That said, I have a question for those of you who not only see no problem with this legally — as you shouldn't — but also think, as does our host, that there is no principled or coherent way in which situations like this could be considered morally problematic when it comes to freedom of expression.

    Let's say you're a duck hunter, and you think Duck Commander calls are the gold standard of available products. You also support gay rights. Then you read Robertson's interview, and find out how strongly his view of homosexuals and homosexuality diverges from yours. As far as you know, he hasn't done anything to persecute gay people, or treat them poorly; he just holds views that you consider to be extremely outmoded and ridiculous. So…do you a) continue buying the calls and do nothing, b) continue buying the calls and speak out against Robertson's speech, c) stop buying the calls but do nothing else, or d) stop buying the calls and try to persuade other people to stop buying them as well?

    Please note: none of these responses is at all problematic from a legal standpoint. It is your right to decide how to spend your money, and to decide how and whether to speak your mind. But which of these responses is the best action to take?

    My answer is b).

    I proceed from the moral assumption that a person's sexuality, and views on the subject, are and ought to be separate from any consideration of how they do their job. That being the case, I don't like a) as an option. Just because I like and use Robertson's duck calls doesn't mean I should keep quiet about his outmoded views on sexuality. In fact, a criticism from a fellow duck hunting enthusiast — as opposed to, say, an anti-gun professor from the big city — might do some good by encouraging other like-minded individuals in the community to speak out, and forcing people who reflexively side with Robertson to realize that reasonable people who share their loves in life may not share all their views…and may have good reasons for holding different ones.

    But if I don't like a), I can't like c) and d) either — not if I'm going to be principled about it. It's not as though I would have stopped buying Duck Commander calls because they're lower-quality than they used to be, or because a better product has come along. Those would be purely objective reasons. With c), the best interpretation of my actions is that I am no longer buying from Robertson because I refuse to subsidize his speech. With d), I am actively trying to harm his livelihood, very possibly as a tactic to force him to either change his mind or shut up. Either way, I am violating my own principle.

    Now, I think that anyone reading this should agree with me about a), b), c), and d) all being equally acceptable courses of action, legally speaking — and most of you probably will. Your answer as to which is the best option, morally speaking, will of course depend on your own moral principles. But anyone who sides with Ken vis-a-vis the incoherence issue might stop to consider a few words from a man who's been in the news some this month, and will be in the news even more tomorrow — some ancient, outmoded jazz about treating others the same way you would like to be treated. That idea seems neither unprincipled nor incoherent to me.

    And lest anyone think I'm making a partisan point, since that rule is supposed to apply to everyone equally, it is also my opinion that Robertson might take some time this holiday season to consider those particular words of Christ. I wonder how well-treated he would feel if he read similar opinions in a magazine interview about his lifestyle, or if he heard words about evangelical Christians similar to his own previous words about gay people ("heartless, faithless, senseless, ruthless") that Ampersand just cited.

  128. TM says:

    I wonder how well-treated he would feel if he read similar opinions in a magazine interview about his lifestyle

    I have to suspect being a white Christian male who owns guns and hunts, if he's ever read any modern media outside Fox News (or even simply any of the current anger directed at him) he has read similar opinions on his lifestyle.

  129. rsteinmetz70112 says:

    Demosthenes your link to the Camille Paglia quote don't work.

    I am astounded by the sheer amount of misinformation, misinterpretation, ignorance, arrogance and prejudice represented in this thread.

    I wonder whether any of the people commenting have read the actual interview of Mr. Robertson or applied the any critical thinking (or charitable interpretation) to it. I wonder if any of the commenters have ever known a white southerner. I wonder whether people have any idea what the South was like 50 years ago or is like today.

  130. stillnotking says:

    Of course faith is compatible with intelligence and sanity. I doubt anyone would describe Blaise Pascal as a stupid or crazy person; Pascal's Wager, however, is stupid and crazy. Much of mainstream Christian, Muslim, and Jewish doctrine is, in my opinion, stupid and crazy, and I certainly don't "respect" beliefs that involve (e.g.) people being tortured for eternity, or consider the idea of a loving God to be totally unchallenged by the existence of Yersinia pestis.

    If you had to be stupid and crazy to believe stupid, crazy things, history would look a lot different (and a lot better). Sadly, human nature readily admits such seeming contradictions.

  131. Demosthenes says:

    Pascal's Wager is neither stupid nor crazy. It is certainly wrong, as originally phrased…but that's not an equivalent statement.

  132. EAB says:

    So…do you a) continue buying the calls and do nothing, b) continue buying the calls and speak out against Robertson's speech, c) stop buying the calls but do nothing else, or d) stop buying the calls and try to persuade other people to stop buying them as well?

    That's the same dilemma that liberal types have been dealing with over Chik-Fil-A. The latter is actually worse in that they've actually given money to organizations which actively work against gay rights, and which even advocate for criminalization in other countries. So it's not just speech there, but the knowledge that (some small part of) your money (indirectly) funds activities you find abhorrent.

    I never ate there often anyway, but every so often there comes a morning upon which a chicken biscuit is simply non-optional, or I need a party tray. I make a little more effort to source those items elsewhere, but if I do wind up at Chik-Fil-A, I sometimes pitch some money at an LGBT organization as a sort of conscience offering. That way I'm at least generating some positive good.

    Pro-life people often feel the same about businesses who give to Planned Parenthood, or even who support organizations which in turn give to Planned Parenthood. Many of these same people are irate about A&E's behavior, which I find utterly baffling.

    I wonder if any of the commenters have ever known a white southerner. I wonder whether people have any idea what the South was like 50 years ago or is like today.

    This particular white southerner is utterly unsurprised by Robertson's general attitude, but it's still pretty appalling for a person of that age to claim that he never personally saw any discrimination. Was he literally blind, that he could not see the colored waiting rooms and water fountains? He might have worked in the cotton fields with black people, but he sure didn't go to school with any. Did he think that was just because none of them wanted to go to Louisiana Tech anyway?

    By and large, the white southerners that I know at least acknowledge that things used to be really bad, though they may follow it up by claiming that things are totally 100% fine now, or even that the evils of Jim Crow have given way to the evils of the decline of the black family or the welfare state. It takes a truly astounding amount of willful denial to pretend it simply didn't happen, and that black people were "happy" under that system.

  133. Joe Blow says:

    Supporting the heckler's veto here is fine, it's following the law. Just understand that it's going to be you who is the object of a Two Minutes Hate at somepoint, and your career and job jeopardized as a consequence of exercising your free speech rights.

    And for the record, Robertson paraphrased some new testament verses when he discussed the prohibitions on adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, and stump-breaking your cows. If that's hateful bigotry, then congratulations, we've just redefined garden variety Christianity as a hate group the Government will be called to deal with.

    At some point, the cost to exercise this right is going to become just too high – it's impossible to speak without offending some fragile special little snowflake somewhere. I wonder how we're going to deal with that.

  134. stillnotking says:

    Eh, I can't be bothered to argue about PW. There are lower-hanging fruit, like young-earth creationism. Living in the American South, I know plenty of YECs who are sane, well-adjusted, intelligent, successful people. They're also (mostly) kind people, but worship a God who makes Torquemada look like Gandhi. No doubt my descendants will look back at me and ask "How could any sane person believe (X)?" Out of the crooked timber, etc.

  135. EAB says:

    Just understand that it's going to be you who is the object of a Two Minutes Hate at somepoint, and your career and job jeopardized as a consequence of exercising your free speech rights.

    You're assuming that hasn't already happened to anyone here.

    Without getting into identifying specifics, I've personally taken a very public stand on a very controversial issue in my state. I did it knowing full well that I might face not only financial consequences, but also threats and even something like a rock through my window. While nothing worse happened than some horrible emails and one incident where someone got up in my face in public, it could realistically have been worse — and sometimes is, for other people engaged in controversial advocacy. Try asking an abortion clinic worker how far their free speech rights go.

    The violin I need for Phil Robertson is very, very tiny indeed.

  136. Ken White says:

    Supporting the heckler's veto here is fine, it's following the law.

    You're misusing the heckler's veto to do exactly what I am talking about — misapplying First Amendment concepts to private speech.

    The "heckler's veto" refers to using private speech to invoke official censorship. For instance, when a city refuses to give a parade permit to a group because protestors will use violence in response to a parade, that's the heckler's veto. When a public employer suspends a public employee [given the difference between public and private employees] because people who don't like the employee's speech are threatening him, that's the heckler's veto.

    The heckler's veto does not refer to private people engaging in private speech. Except in the Humpty-Dumpty sense.

  137. Owen says:

    Joe Blow:

    At some point, the cost to exercise this right is going to become just too high

    Just so we're clear, what, uhm, "right" are you talking about here? The First Amendment right, which doesn't exist in this context? Or the right to continue to be paid for services by a private employer irrespective of your actions, which doesn't exist in any sense?

  138. David Schwartz says:

    "Just understand that it's going to be you who is the object of a Two Minutes Hate at somepoint, and your career and job jeopardized as a consequence of exercising your free speech rights."

    This is an utterly absurd argument. It's precisely equivalent to arguing against the principle, "on should do what one believes is right" on the grounds that some people who follow it will do wrong because of it.

    It is not an argument against following one's principles that following principles sometimes leads mistaken people to doing bad things.

  139. Ampersand says:

    And for the record, Robertson paraphrased some new testament verses when he discussed the prohibitions on adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, and stump-breaking your cows. If that’s hateful bigotry, then congratulations, we’ve just redefined garden variety Christianity as a hate group the Government will be called to deal with.

    Well, first of all, no one I know of is calling on the Government to deal with the stuff Phil Robertson says – certainly none of the notable voices of the left (no major bloggers, no advocacy groups like GLADD) are calling for such a thing.

    Second, let's review what Phil Robertson said about gays on another occasion:

    Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions," Robertson continued. "They're full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.

    As I'm sure we all recognized, he's paraphrasing the Bible (specifically Romans 1:26-30). But the Bible is a long book; there are many verses he could have chosen, but he chose this one to yell out from a podium. He chose to interpret it in an anti-gay fashion (there are other interpretations). He chose to present it in an angry and condemning manner.

    Those were Phil Robertson's choices, not God's. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with criticizing Phil Robertson for the choices that Phil Robertson makes. There are literally millions of Christians out there – including many who think homosexuality is a sin – who would not make those same choices.

    Why should Robertson get to hide behind the "it's my religion" excuse, rather than taking responsibility for his what he and he alone chose to say and emphasize?

  140. Owen says:

    Joe Blow:

    And for the record, Robertson paraphrased some new testament verses when he discussed the prohibitions on adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, and stump-breaking your cows. If that's hateful bigotry, then congratulations, we've just redefined garden variety Christianity as a hate group . . .

    This brings up a host of questions, in addition to those in Ampersand's comment:

    Is it your position now that an angry diatribe cannot be hateful if it is paraphrasing the Bible? Is it your position that one cannot disagree with or condemn a person for holding views that may be expressed in the Bible? Is this just the New Testament, or the Old Testament as well? Does this include greater actions in the Bible, such as murder, incest, and genocide, or is it limited to inferences about homosexuality? Do you extend this courtesy to other holy books, or just your holy book of choice? How direct must the paraphrasing be? Is it okay if you just THINK you're paraphrasing the Bible?

    Ultimately, if it's not hateful because it's paraphrasing something in the Bible, then I'm left wondering what exactly IS hateful, considering the enormous amount of despicable conduct that the Bible includes.

  141. Mike says:

    If we don't want to call this free speech, what do we want to call it? Proportionality?

    Saying "I think Robertson is a bad man with bad ideas" seems proportionate. Boycotts and firings are not. Do we really want to live in a society where simply having an unpopular opinion puts your livelihood in general? That seems significantly at odds with the ideals of free expression, whatever we want to call it. He made some statements in an interview – he didn't make anti-homosexuality a core part of his product or message of his show.

    That isn't "no takebacks." There's a threshold crossed somewhere between saying someone has bad ideas that they (mostly) keep to themselves, and organizing to try to destroy their career.

  142. Owen says:

    Mike:

    How do you propose that we measure and define "proportionality"? Is there an objective measurement, or is it just whatever an individual person subjectively feels to be proportional? If the latter, then wouldn't that essentially be what we have now? Everyone appears to be acting how they feel is appropriate.

  143. Ken White says:

    Do we really want to live in a society where simply having an unpopular opinion puts your livelihood in general?

    Haven't we always lived in a society where voicing unpopular opinions put your livelihood at risk?

    I mean, the ease with which you can voice opinions, and the size of your audience, and the tendency of opinions to proliferate might have changed with technology.

    But do you really think that if a small-town store-owner wrote a letter to the small-town paper in, say, 1953 saying that there was nothing wrong with homosexuality and that bias against it was sinful, that he wouldn't have suffered social and economic consequences?

  144. James Pollock says:

    I've seen a lot of confusion here between supporting someone's RIGHT to do something with someone's CHOICE to do it.

    Everything we choose to do has consequences, even those things we have a right to do. Applauding someone for showing forethought before acting, or even restraining themselves from acting, is not an infringement of their right to do things.

    In other words, just because we have a right to do something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do, and we are not entitled to have people support us just because we had a right to do what we did.

    Mr. Duck is fully entitled to hold whatever opinions on race relations, sexuality, religion, and combinations thereof. He's got a right to share those opinions with anyone who wants to hear them, and magazines have a right to print them (provided they do so accurately; things are little hazier IMO for inaccuracies). That said, people are entitled to decide not to associate with him, economically or otherwise, based on their knowledge of those opinions.

    The real question is not whether or not an employer may choose to employ (or not employ) you based on the opinions you hold; they do. The question is to what degree may they investigate to find out. If you make it entirely public (say, by using your company-provided phone to tweet on a company account) that's one thing. But what about things you attempt to keep private? Can private individuals or business associations use surveillance drones to determine your off-the-clock activities?

  145. EAB says:

    But do you really think that if a small-town store-owner wrote a letter to the small-town paper in, say, 1953 saying that there was nothing wrong with homosexuality and that bias against it was sinful, that he wouldn't have suffered social and economic consequences?"

    And do we think that in America of 2013, people don't get fired for actually being gay? It's perfectly legal to do that in my state and plenty of others. As an employer, Phil Robertson would be perfectly 100% within his rights to fire any employee of his who announced s/he was gay (or whom he just thought might be gay). Plenty more gay people get fired for who they are than get fired for expressing opposition to gay marriage.

    I personally oppose people getting fired for being gay, but that's because it's a fundamental aspect of a person's identity. I mean, if I lived in a world where my employer could fire me for my sexual orientation, I couldn't very well just decide not to be straight, any more than I could decide not to be white or female. But I can decide what comes out of my mouth, and that makes it fair game in a way that my sexual orientation isn't.

    Would you Robertson free speech defenders feel comfortable reciting that exact same language to the gay guy who cuts your hair, or the gay co-worker three cubicles down? Doubtful, because it's pretty ugly stuff to be directed at someone personally. I think we can all acknowledge that it would be really rude and hurtful, and would probably violate our employers' policies about not harassing or being ugly to our co-workers. So why should A&E continue to allow one of their employees to talk to many of their other employees that way, along with every other gay person in America?

  146. Demosthenes says:

    Do we really want to live in a society where simply having an unpopular opinion puts your livelihood in general?

    Haven't we always lived in a society where voicing unpopular opinions put your livelihood at risk?

    Does the second question actually answer the first one simply by being asked, or does it only appear to do so?

  147. Ken White says:

    @Demosthenes: it's not intended to answer the question. It's intended to address — in the context of my point 5, above — the implication that this is something new — with the false subtext of "the gays and liberals and thus-and-such have created a new and different dystopia."

  148. David says:

    @Ken, Demosthenes makes a point worth addressing. Does the fact that the new dystopia (if such it be) is not substantially different from the old one (if such it were) settle the issue? We're looking for a better arrangement of norms and pressures, not merely a familiar one.

    So even if the tribe has always behaved this way, do we want the tribe to behave this way? And given the technological amplification of that collective response (throwing rotten fruit at the guy in the pillory versus permanently and pervasively net.stomping the guy's face forever, with concomitant effects on subsistence and safety), do we really want to fall back on "well, folks have always imposed social consequences" as if each era were materially no different from any other?

  149. Owen says:

    David:

    I don't believe that the question can be adequately addressed by itself. As you've put the question, you are asking something that seems simple but is deceptively complex. The question is not just, "do we want the tribe to behave this way?" but rather, "do we prefer the alternative behaviors (and the consequences of those behaviors) to the current behavior?" In order to answer that question, we must be presented with an alternative.

    The majority of comments in this thread are already addressing that question, either explicitly or implicitly, by arguing that there is no principled and functional alternative to the current behavior. Without an alternative, the question "do we want this behavior" is a nullity.

  150. David says:

    @Owen, you think in terms of billiard balls rather than ranges on a continuum. But imagine that continuum: at one extreme, we're unified and we immediately throw down the well anyone the quorum deems guilty of wrongthink; at the other extreme, we throw nobody down the well, but we're balkanized.

    All along the continuum one may posit ranges that offer unique admixtures of these and related behavioral factors. By pointing out that rejecting the current behaviors entails positing alternative behaviors, you position yourself to reject the question on the strength that it's nil in the absence of such alternatives. There's only the 8-ball, and we're all behind it.

    Well, it's not necessarily the case that the world is best construed as a collection of discrete options; what we're really discussing is how to move the slider along this dimension, just one among many that all present antinomies shading off into one another as they converge.

  151. Ken White says:

    @David:

    I'm aware that it doesn't settle the issue. But my post is deliberately meta-I-have-no-solutions, and one of my primary concerns in writing it is to talk about how people use situations like this for partisan purposes on both sides.

    Many people — not Demosthenes, but people saying the same thing — are treating this as a "what fresh hell hath the gays wrought" type of thing. The question "do we really want to live with this" is oft being invoked with a suggestion that "this" is new and different, and that hidden proposition is being used as support for the argument that the answer is "no." It's also being used (again, not by Demosthenes, but in general) to suggest that there is something unusually intolerant or speech-suppressive about gay advocates, and to imply that everything was hunky-dory before.

    In other words, the question "do you really want to live in a world where you can be fired for your speech" is being used to smuggle arguments about the past and the present.

  152. Demosthenes says:

    @ David: The only response I have to your last two comments is — Yes, exactly. (Although, who knows, maybe a loose alliance of otherwise balkanized communities is the nation-state of tomorrow.)

    @ Ken:

    In other words, the question "do you really want to live in a world where you can be fired for your speech" is being used to smuggle arguments about the past and the present.

    Yes, you're absolutely right. I overlooked that interpretation of the meaning behind your question, and I should have tried harder to find a more charitable interpretation. Sorry.

  153. Bill says:

    You have to consider this: We either have freedom of speech, or we do not. Now I am not saying freedom of speech means you can make threats, or call John in accounting a "faggot". But I should have the freedom to say "I think the Phillies suck." or "I don't really agree with gay marriage." or "I voted for Barack Obama." without being fired for it, in particular if I say those things during my free time. Corporations are given the full protection of the laws and benefits of the United States Constitution; why should an employee of that corporation receive any less consideration? When you say "Just because somebody's beliefs come from a "holy book" doesn't mean it's exempt from criticism I suppose you are correct. But the fact of the matter is, right or wrong, there are people who believe very deeply in those books. I, for one, believe it is beyond mine, yours, or any other person's right to judge that fact. If Duck guy wants to believe that being gay is a sin because his belief system says so, I am fine with that. If Duck guy wants to physically harm somebody because they are gay then it is a different situation. THAT is where freedom of speech, and thought, comes into play. As Americans, we are supposed to be allowed to think and feel whatever we like whenever we like. I'm not saying that when you are at work you should be able to answer the telephone and preach to them. But if you perform your job in a professional manner, what you do, say, and think after work is not up for interpretation as long as you are obeying the laws of this country. When the government, or the company you work for, uses the threat of force in order to control your speech and thought, and that force includes the loss of your employment, that behavior is known as Fascism.

  154. KR says:

    Corporations are given the full protection of the laws and benefits of the United States Constitution; why should an employee of that corporation receive any less consideration?

    They don't.

    If Duck guy wants to physically harm somebody…THAT is where freedom of speech, and thought, comes into play.

    I'm struggling to think of a way this sentence could be less coherent.

  155. David Schwartz says:

    @Bill What you're suggesting is that the State police people's actions to ensure they aren't ideologically motivated in the name of preventing fascism. That kind of fails the giggle test.

    Would you support a law permitting an employer to sue an employee if they quit their job over a philosophical difference with their employer or with a fellow employee? Should it be illegal for me to quit my job merely because my employer donates to a political cause I disagree with?

    Should a person be prohibited from quitting his job merely because his boss is a KKK member because otherwise his employer might have to pressure him to leave the KKK in order to retain competent black employees — and we can't have that — that's fascism.

  156. Demosthenes says:

    @ Bill:

    Now I am not saying freedom of speech means you can make threats, or call John in accounting a "faggot".

    But freedom of speech does protect one of these. I can walk up to you on the street, or in the office, or wherever — and call you a faggot, or a Nazi, or a person who does unspeakable things to plush Elmo dolls — and there isn't one thing our government can do about it based on the content of the speech alone. Now what someone else could do about it is another matter. If you called me, or anyone else, a faggot in my office or my home, I would ask you to exercise your freedom of speech elsewhere. In fact, I'd insist on it.

    But I should have the freedom to say "I think the Phillies suck." or "I don't really agree with gay marriage." or "I voted for Barack Obama." without being fired for it, in particular if I say those things during my free time.

    Perhaps you should have the freedom to say things like these without fear of firing. But you don't. In my state of residence, I could technically fire an employee for any reason at all, as long as I stayed within the bounds of federal law. That's not to say that I would…but I could.

    Corporations are given the full protection of the laws and benefits of the United States Constitution; why should an employee of that corporation receive any less consideration?

    They don't. The First Amendment protects individuals from government regulation of their speech. It also protects corporations in the same way. It doesn't protect individuals from consequences for their speech imposed by private parties, like corporations or other individuals. It doesn't give corporations that protection either.

    When you say "Just because somebody's beliefs come from a "holy book" doesn't mean it's exempt from criticism I suppose you are correct. But the fact of the matter is, right or wrong, there are people who believe very deeply in those books. I, for one, believe it is beyond mine, yours, or any other person's right to judge that fact.

    Which fact? That there are people who believe very deeply in those books? Of course they do; that's indisputable. Or did you mean that we're not allowed to judge the contents of their sincere beliefs? Because that's just silly.

    If Duck guy wants to believe that being gay is a sin because his belief system says so, I am fine with that. If Duck guy wants to physically harm somebody because they are gay then it is a different situation. THAT is where freedom of speech, and thought, comes into play.

    Freedom of speech, and of thought, comes into play when and if someone decides to physically harm someone else? Huh?

    As Americans, we are supposed to be allowed to think and feel whatever we like whenever we like.

    No. Your government doesn't allow you freedoms. You allow your government power. Also, what you have said is beside the point. Thinking and feeling what you like is one thing; giving voice to it without fear of consequence is another. I think that some people on all sides should give a wider latitude to speech with which they disagree than they currently do, but I'm not arguing for restrictions on constitutional rights. Which you might be, if this statement is any evidence…

    When the government, or the company you work for, uses the threat of force in order to control your speech and thought, and that force includes the loss of your employment, that behavior is known as Fascism.

    Where to begin, except perhaps to observe that if you favor government regulation of employers to prevent them from firing employees based on speech, your statement would be as deeply ironic as it is embarrassingly wrong?

  157. Bill says:

    @KR I fully acknowledge that employers can fire any employee at any time and there is nothing you or I or anybody can do about it. I am just saying that I don't agree with it. What I am pointing out is that if I were at work, and I walked up to another employee and threatened him or insulted him, then my actions are indefensible and that guy has every right to report me, or punch me in the face, or whatever. If I'm away from work and I happen to mention that I don't like "John from accounting", as long as I don't threaten him and I act professionally towards him it shouldn't matter what my thoughts are. But like it was pointed out, I could be fired because I don't like him. I acknowledge that fully, I just don't agree with it.

    @David. As far as I am aware, contracted employees can be sued if they quit their jobs for any reason. Would I support the law? No, just like I don't support the converse of it. What you, and every other commenter to my point for that matter, has implied that I am saying that some law was being broken when this guy was fired. I never said that, I was and am saying that I simply don't agree with the reasons behind it. I am saying that worker rights should be the same as employee rights, and if you think they are then you don't live in the real world. Look many of the tax codes if you want a place to start. All I said is that if your employer exhibits control over you after work hours, then we as a country may have a problem.

    @Demosthenes I agree with nearly everything you said and I don't see what your problem with my post was. I fully acknowledged all of your points. I can be fired at any time; I can't say anything, before, during, or after work without the risk of being fired for it. I can walk up to a guy and call him a "faggot" legally, and he can legally punch me in the face, fact. I don't think that we should judge people's religious beliefs. That is a personal choice that we all have the right to make, the same as the right to vote. I completely disagree with your contention that we vote our government power over the constituency. Didn't somebody once say that power should be wielded by the consent of the governed, and not the threat of force, any force. I'm paraphrasing but I hope that is clear enough.
    Your last statement: "Where to begin, except perhaps to observe that if you favor government regulation of employers to prevent them from firing employees based on speech, your statement would be as deeply ironic as it is embarrassingly wrong?"
    I favor nothing except the Constitution. Again, you seem to be suggesting that I feel that something illegal happened when this guy got fired or suspended, or whichever was the case. I was only saying that I don't agree with it. My point on Fascism? Not a century ago in Germany, Jews were blacklisted because their religious beliefs were deemed detrimental to the state. Their businesses were shut down, products made by Jewish people were removed from the shelves, their places of worship were destroyed. That also happened here in America to a lesser extent, though it wasn't condoned by the government, at least I hope not. All I am saying is that I don't want to live in a state such as that, even at the lowest extreme. I don't agree with the Duck guy, but if he wants to think it that is his business. If I see a Duck Dynasty product in the store, and I don't support him, I just won't buy it; I don't believe we need to remove it from the shelves, though like it was pointed out, removing it is perfectly legal. I've pointed out before, if you don't believe that corporations have greater rights than its employees then you have lived a much different work life than I have. I pointed out to another commenter, you need only look at the tax codes for a start. Like it or not, we all have to work, and like it or not most of the time we have to work for somebody else. I believe that corporations are given undue control over its employees in many cases, though once again it is probably all legal. Maybe it is too much to ask when I say that I, or anybody, should be able to think, worship, and say what I like after work without fearing for my livelihood. But that is all I was saying. I NEVER said that what happened was illegal; I acknowledge that part fully, I just don't agree with the reasons.

  158. KR says:

    I fully acknowledge that employers can fire any employee at any time and there is nothing you or I or anybody can do about it. I am just saying that I don't agree with it.

    I know.

    What you, and every other commenter to my point for that matter, has implied that I am saying that some law was being broken when this guy was fired.

    Nobody has implied anything of the sort.

    I can walk up to a guy and call him a "faggot" legally, and he can legally punch me in the face, fact.

    Not a fact.

    Not a century ago in Germany, Jews were blacklisted because their religious beliefs were deemed detrimental to the state.

    You know what makes the two situations comparable? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

  159. Bill says:

    The "faggot" story. Absolutely true. My coworker's wife is a lawyer who handled the case. Not only was the guy fired, the very guy who punched him also sued him, though I don't know the outcome of that part of it. But he was not arrested, nor was he charged with any crime and what he did was considered self defense. Even if it weren't so, my right to call him a "faggot" certainly isn't going to block the punch.

    As far as Nazi Germany is concerned, all I am implying is that fascist control started out very innocently and with motives that were considered just and good for the whole. I am not implying marching armies and dictator control over the populace. I am saying that a minority organization, like GLAAD, didn't care for what somebody said so they felt that everybody else shouldn't care for it either. At least that's how I see it. They felt that his show should be cancelled, they felt his products shouldn't be on the shelf, they felt he shouldn't be allowed on TV. Again, they had every legal right. I simply don't agree with the decision.

  160. James Pollock says:

    But freedom of speech does protect one of these. I can walk up to you on the street, or in the office, or wherever — and call you a faggot, or a Nazi, or a person who does unspeakable things to plush Elmo dolls — and there isn't one thing our government can do about it based on the content of the speech alone.

    "fighting words" doctrine is in pretty much full retreat, but as of this moment the USSC has not yet fully repudiated it. Because of this, states may still criminalize words as "incitement". It may be that we're but one test case away from the Court erasing "fighting words" from first amendment law… but they haven't done so yet.

    Of course, there's several ways a law can stop being a law. A court can overturn it, a legislature can repeal it… or prosecutors can just stop charging people under it.

  161. I am a bit concerned that we seem in this discussion to have lost track of the fact that Mr. Robertson did not have a low-level, back-office job such that his off-work behavior didn't reflect on his employer – instead, he was a personal brand and as much a part of A&E's corporate image as any company spokesman. To the extent that I am inclined to object to an employer taking employment actions based on personal statements of belief, my objections are muted when it comes to jobs as spokespeople or other jobs in the public eye. My objections are also muted when the statements found objectionable are made in a prearranged, on-the-record interview and not as the result of being ambushed by a reporter on the lawn or in an accidental open-mic situation. (Or a tweet made in the throws of deep emotion)

    In this case, one of the things A&E is selling in airing "Duck Dynasty" is the constructed image of Pat Robertson, redneck duck hunter with a heart of gold. (Remember, they still call it a reality show) As a result of the GQ interview and the news coverage it's generated, A&E can no longer really sell that same product. I happen to think there's still a market for a reality show with a less-than-perfect main character (Jersey Shore?), but maybe that's not a business A&E wants to be in.

  162. Bill says:

    I came onto this forum to express my opinion concerning a post, like the author intended. I never presented any of my opinions as fact, just the opinion of one person. I tried to be reasonable, and to explain myself if need be. I was not insulting to anybody. It seems that some people on this forum don't want to hear other opinions. I personally believe that two opposing opinions can still be valid. Some people on here don't agree with that, and want to insult any opinion they don't agree with. That's fine with me, but it is the pussy way out.
    The incident I mentioned is very true, and involved an openly gay person and another employee of the company they worked at. When another commenter said "I can walk up to you the street and call you 'faggot'" he was absolutely correct. Of course he can do that, how could it be stopped? But, his 'rights' aren't going to stop me from kicking the shit out of him. His "right" to say what he will isn't going to block punches, or keep his teeth in his mouth.
    GLAAD, whatever their intentions were, hid behind their 'rights' rather than standing up for themselves. I would rather have had one of the members of GLAAD tell the Duck guy "Go fuck yourself!" than cry about what the mean man said. That is the problem I had with it, and maybe what many people did. For my part, I don't watch the show, and I don't agree with his opinion. That is how I dealt with his words.

  163. Bill says:

    @ Daniel. I agree with all of your points. For my part, the way that GLAAD went about their protest and the way A&E flip-flopped several times is what I don't agree with.
    As far as GLAAD is concerned, I think the good of what they do by far outweighs the bad, but they need to learn that just like some people don't care for Duck Dynasty, some people aren't going to care for them. The duck guy doesn't care for gay people it seems. He may be narrow minded and ignorant of the world at large, but I wouldn't call his Duck Dynasty products "instruments of hate" that need to be removed from store shelves. Again, that is just my own opinion.
    You are right, a man in a public position said something that he probably should have kept to himself. His words definitely could have cost A&E business. A&E had every right to end their association with him with the only cost being whatever they owed him according to the contract. A&E should have the right to determine if a contracted employee is detrimental to their company. The one hole in A&E's case is the fact that they continued to run the show even after the interview, and ran several marathons of it. Had the guy hurt the company's image that badly where they needed to suspend him, they probably should have suspended the show along with it. That is all in hindsight now.

  164. Demosthenes says:

    @ Bill: My problem with your post was that most sentences in it were either untrue, or irrelevant, or both. I went over this at great length in my response to you. I don't know how you missed it.

    It seems that some people on this forum don't want to hear other opinions.

    I think you're mistaking being disagreed with for not being listened to. This sort of passive-aggressive response to criticism is not helpful to any discussion or debate.

    I personally believe that two opposing opinions can still be valid.

    On some matters, yes. (Although the word you want is "wrong," not "valid.") We can have different opinions about whether Mariah Carey makes good music without either opinion necessarily being wrong. But that ceases to be the case when the opinions are about matters of fact. Many of the things you have said are either partially or wholly untrue. Uttering this sentence, in this context, doesn't help you.

    Some people on here don't agree with that, and want to insult any opinion they don't agree with. That's fine with me, but it is the pussy way out.

    I wish they sold an Irony Detector on Amazon.

    Oh, and before I forget:

    When another commenter said "I can walk up to you the street and call you 'faggot'" he was absolutely correct. Of course he can do that, how could it be stopped? But, his 'rights' aren't going to stop me from kicking the shit out of him. His "right" to say what he will isn't going to block punches, or keep his teeth in his mouth.

    I was that commenter. And based on something else you said above, you actually may believe that you would legally be in the right here. You would not be. Further, your stances are absolutely incompatible. You think companies should give more latitude to employees for their speech (which I agree with, by the way), but you seem to believe that an individual's physical violence may be an acceptable response to another individual's pure speech under some circumstances. Never have I been so glad that there's a big Internet between me and another person.

  165. Bill says:

    @Demosthenes. I want to clarify. I never presented anything that I wrote as anything more than an opinion. My stance could be completely wrong, or completely correct, or somewhere in the middle. It was just an opinion and nothing more. I wasn't expecting anybody to read what I wrote as anything more than an opinion, and I wasn't expecting an answer from anybody except maybe the author. I didn't address it to anybody but that person, and I did not bring up any other commenter's points in my comment. I did have some commenters answer my comment, you included. You called one of my statements 'silly' and one 'embarrassing'. Would you say that you weren't being insulting? I felt you were, but I don't know you and maybe that is how you express yourself sometimes.
    There can certainly be two valid opinions that are completely opposite of each other. It happens all the time. There are usually more than two ways to accomplish something, that doesn't always make one way better than the other, just different. My opinions are just what I make them to be, opinions. I never presented them as fact. How can I do that? Then it ceases to be just an opinion, it becomes a definitive statement that can either be proved or disproved.

    I've seen many opinions on this post that were disagreed with. Some of them in a civil manner, some of them with nothing more than insults. I do my best to not insult anybody on the internet because frankly I don't think it's fair. I came on here to express my opinion and hear others. Most of the time, I won't even comment if I disagree because the person that made the opinion was just doing his/her best to contribute. The only opinions I offered were to the author of the blog, not any commenter, and at that I thought I presented them in a reasonable way.

    You felt that my opinion was wrong. I have no problem with that. But I get the sense that you are somehow "mad" that I wrote what I did. If so, why? I, for one, am not mad at the author of this post, GLAAD, or the duck guy, nor am I mad at any commenter here. Why should I be? They've done nothing to me but give me something to read when I'm home not feeling all that great.

    As far as knocking somebody out who insults me. Again, I never said that I would be allowed by law to do that. I never said that I condoned it, yet I do understand it. But, unfortunately I might add, I've been in enough fights to know that my right to insult somebody isn't going to keep somebody I insulted from beating the hell out of me. I might have him arrested, or take him to court, but I'll still be the guy who got his ass kicked, freedom of speech or no. Again, I know first hand of a situation where what I described was very close to what did actually happen, but it happened at work and not on the street. That is the only reason I used it as an example.

    I know that you don't want advice from me, but I'll give it anyway. If you don't like what I wrote, feel free to think what you will. But try to lay off the insults a little. Why did you feel the need to insult rather than just say: Buddy I think you are way off base, and here's why! Instead, you took comments from a person, and others, that you didn't know and felt that you had the responsibility to grade them on their merit, or lack of. When you stomp on another person's opinions with insults only because you don't agree with them, it makes you no better than the duck guy.

  166. Demosthenes says:

    @ Bill:

    I never presented anything that I wrote as anything more than an opinion.

    I never said you did. But some of what you said was wrong. Opinions can be wrong, whether you believe they can or not. I've already pointed some of those statements out. Re-read at your leisure.

    You called one of my statements 'silly' and one 'embarrassing'. Would you say that you weren't being insulting?

    Well, that's a bit incomplete, isn't it? For the first statement, I asked what you meant by something you said and offered two options, one of which I described as "silly." The other comment I did not call "embarrassing" — what I said was that if you meant such-and-so, that would be "embarrassingly wrong." In neither case did I insult you. If you choose to be insulted by negative descriptions of what you have said, that's your affair.

    I do my best to not insult anybody on the internet because frankly I don't think it's fair.

    Says the man who earlier said that people who "insulted" his opinions were taking "the pussy way out." By your standards of what constitutes an insult, I'd say that's pretty severe.

    As far as knocking somebody out who insults me. Again, I never said that I would be allowed by law to do that.

    Your words, from earlier: "…if I were at work, and I walked up to another employee and threatened him or insulted him, then my actions are indefensible and that guy has every right to report me, or punch me in the face, or whatever."

    You didn't say it would be understandable for someone to punch you in the face if you insulted them. You said they would have "every right" to do so. It therefore follows that you would have the same right in a similar situation. Hence, my earlier statement. Forgive me for taking your words at face value.

    If you don't like what I wrote, feel free to think what you will. But try to lay off the insults a little.

    See, again! Again with the "insult" descriptive! Up to now, I haven't insulted you — unless your definition of "insult" includes things like "pointing out that something Bill said is wrong." What I have done is spend a lot of time writing detailed responses to you that will cause everybody to break their mice whilst scrolling past. You've ignored some of what I've written, and appear to have misunderstood — or taken out of context — some of the rest. It's pretty clear that the one to profit most from our exchanges will be Best Buy.

    So…with that, we're done.

  167. Bill says:

    @Demosthenes You're right about the punching thing because I wasn't clear and should have specified that I knew of one particular case where that did happen and that may not apply everywhere. That was definitely my mistake.

    When I say that I presented a point as my opinion, I concede that because it is just an opinion, it could be wrong. That is why I didn't present it as a fact of any kind.

    Do I think people who chose to insult people on the internet take the pussy way out? Absolutely. Had my original post been directed at you, I wouldn't have been surprised if you answered it and told me what you did or didn't agree with. It wasn't, though. My post was only a comment made after reading the blog author's post. Did I call you a pussy directly? Or are you taking it out of context?

    Here's what I think…I have no problem with you disagreeing with everything I wrote; I like to hear what other people think. But I think you are insulting, and I think you hide behind it by being an "intellectual". You're probably middle aged, overweight, out-of-shape, and bitter about…something. You've probably never participated on a team of any kind, or if you did you never took anything worthwhile out of it. You've probably been placed in a position of power before you deserved it. The only opinion you value is your own, and you aren't smart enough to know that even the "wrong" opinion can still be learned from. You've probably never had to actually stand up for yourself in your entire life, and if you did it was because you had some form of protection other than yourself. So now that I think about it, I do think you are nothing more than a little pussy, and at the same time, you are also a giant dick, which may sound like an oxymoron, but it somehow fits here. I didn't need a pussy detector from Amazon to figure that out.
    So I hope I never read anything you wrote again. It's a shame I wasted my time, and I actually feel bad that I was really interested in some of your points. No matter. Do me one little favor, and forget that you even took time out of your life to speak to me. Don't worry, I'll show myself out. Take it easy.

  168. Demosthenes says:

    @ Daniel Martin:

    Now that Bill has shown himself out, I'd like to respond to a point you brought up that I thought was interesting:

    I am a bit concerned that we seem in this discussion to have lost track of the fact that Mr. Robertson did not have a low-level, back-office job such that his off-work behavior didn't reflect on his employer – instead, he was a personal brand and as much a part of A&E's corporate image as any company spokesman.

    Hmm…yes and no, I'd say. It's certainly true that Robertson was and is a public figure, and one very much associated with A&E. But he falls somewhat short of the level of a company spokesman. If Neil Patrick Harris or Jim Parsons spoke out publicly on any topic, does it necessarily follow that their comments should reflect on CBS? I mean, perhaps they will, if enough people try to pressure CBS into responding to their public words…but should those comments reflect on the network?

    ABC Family still airs "The 700 Club," despite there being nothing else on that network remotely like it on a regular basis. (Speaking of Robertsons, as we have been.) They put a disclaimer in front of every episode saying that the views aired are not necessarily the views of, etc. If A&E was worried about their Robertson being taken for a corporate spokesman, why not just put up a disclaimer in future?

    In this case, one of the things A&E is selling in airing "Duck Dynasty" is the constructed image of Pat Robertson, redneck duck hunter with a heart of gold…As a result of the GQ interview and the news coverage it's generated, A&E can no longer really sell that same product.

    Disagree. I think that what A&E was really interested in selling was Phil Robertson, real-life Jed Clampett who found his "black gold" in a superior duck call, and the wacky redneck hijinks of him and his family. That's not the product they got, and from everything I've read since this whole flap began, it seems that they've never really been sure how to handle what "Duck Dynasty" became. But whoever is right here, you or me, the product they have is still salable — as they tacitly admitted by reinstating Robertson.

    It seems at the moment that the biggest long-term fallout A&E will get from this is not being trusted by anyone. Supporters of Robertson will suspect that A&E will just be looking for an excuse to pull the plug, and will be watching for any signs to that effect. Opponents of what Robertson said will now believe that A&E executives are more interested in ratings and money than they are in standing up for the principles they claim to believe in. People who don't give a fig about "Duck Dynasty" one way or the other (like me) will think that A&E handled the whole affair in the stupidest manner possible — that it would have been smarter either to refuse to suspend Robertson in the first place, or to stand behind the decision once it had been made. And the kicker is, every single one of those groups will probably be right.

  169. Phelps says:

    ABC Family still airs "The 700 Club," despite there being nothing else on that network remotely like it on a regular basis. (Speaking of Robertsons, as we have been.) They put a disclaimer in front of every episode saying that the views aired are not necessarily the views of, etc. If A&E was worried about their Robertson being taken for a corporate spokesman, why not just put up a disclaimer in future?

    Actually, they only run the 700 Club because they are contractually obligated to — the requirement to air it and the requirement that the name include "Family" are part of the formation of the channel, and as it gets sold back and forth, that's the one thing required to remain.

  170. Demosthenes says:

    @ Phelps: Yes, I know. My point was more about the disclaimer, and that it seems like a good way to indicate a lack of network support for viewpoints with which the network does not wish to align itself, to avoid the whole "corporate spokesman" perception that Daniel Martin was talking about. Sorry if it came across as a stronger comparison; that was not my intention.

    Or perhaps the lesson here is that networks should consider disclaimers anytime they're dealing with a talent named Robertson? ;)

  171. My favorite thing about this entire debacle is that my mother, God bless her, sees no disconnect against agreeing with my father that I should not be allowed to speak in favor of a controversial organization in my town at zoning meetings (when I live in the neighborhood under the zoning board's consideration) because it's bad for the company my dad owns and I work for due to a lot of regional and national attention to the controversy, while simultaneously sending me e-mail forwards about how the liberals are interfering with Phil Robertson's free speech. God bless us, every one.
    (To be clear, Dad has every right to do what he's doing, and even in protesting his decision I never said otherwise.)

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