Local fans react to ‘Duck Dynasty’ controversy
by Bradley Hartsell
News broke Wednesday that TV’s “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Phil Robertson, had been “indefinitely suspended” for anti-gay remarks made in a GQ magazine interview.
In the interview, citing his Christian beliefs and from the Bible, Robertson told GQ:
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
Social media blew up with dividing opinions on the matter. Some felt cable television network A&E, which broadcasts “Duck Dynasty,” the most popular reality show on TV, infringed on Robertson’s right to free speech. Others thought Robertson hid behind his beliefs to promote hateful and intolerant opinions.
Sarah Palin publicly came to Robertson’s defense, citing free speech as an “endangered species.” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal also defended the Louisiana-based Robertson, saying, “It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”
The widespread admiration for “Duck Dynasty” was also felt in Coweta County. Just a couple of weeks ago, Gentiva Hospice won a second-place prize in the Newnan Christmas parade float contest with a “Duck Dynasty”-themed float.
Local fans have voiced their opinions, with an overwhelming majority feeling A&E infringed on Robertson’s freedom of speech.
“Let the ACLU cry about something, they get their feet kissed. Let the atheists have a fit, they get their way. Let a Christian speak on what he believes, they mock you, they criticize you, and they say you're a horrible person,” said Newnan’s Joshua King. “What has happened to this country? When did we start allowing people to not be able to freely express themselves? I don't know if these people missed the memo, but the First Amendment still stands.
“A&E claims that they have long been a champion for, and a supporter of, the [lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender] community,” King added. “If this is so, why would you film a show, a highly successful show, about a Christian family who you know believes in the Bible?”
“I’m pro gay rights, but I think this is ridiculous,” said Beck Zoglmann. “He is entitled to his own opinion regardless of whether or not people agree with it.”
LaGrange’s Linda Avery McEachern said, “Freedom of speech and religion goes right out the window.”
Sharpsburg’s Steve Jasper has watched the show for three years but says he’ll no longer support the show without Robertson. “I’m not too happy about it. It’s messed up. He’s just stating his beliefs.”
“They make it clear that they are a family strong in their faith and that they will not sacrifice their beliefs for the sake of fame or fortune,” said Newnan’s Kendra Parker Adan. “Why is anyone surprised by what he said?”
Senoia’s David Webb also chimed in: “Stop watching A&E altogether, not just ‘Duck Dynasty,’ and see how long it takes them to reinstate Phil. It was Phil's opinion not A&E's. Can't anyone have an opinion that doesn't agree with another? Apparently not.”
“By the way,” Webb added. “Has anyone seen America lately? It's been missing for a while.”
Others felt the move was more a marketing ploy than it was true philosophical difference.
“I think that the suspension (or whatever A&E is calling it) is as much a publicity stunt as anything else,” said Newnan’s Richard Chambers. “I do think that people are distorting it to say that he equated homosexuality with bestiality, and people are overlooking that he also listed heterosexual actions outside of marriage as being sinful.”
“A lot of people, both supporting and denouncing him, seem to always be looking for something to be outraged about,” said Chambers. “At the end of the day, he has the right to say what he believes, and A&E has the right to hire or fire people on their network, but I don't think they'll cook the goose that has been laying their golden eggs.”
“Anyone who has read his book knows where he stands on the issue,” said Terri Baggarly of Newnan. “The network shouldn't be surprised he spoke his mind. Honestly, all of this is just more publicity for A&E. Publicity = money.”
Cable’s number one rated reality show is scheduled to return for its fifth season on Jan. 15. A&E reps have stated Robertson may appear in previously taped scenes, but all filming going forward is suspended indefinitely.
A petition has been launched by Christian organization Faith Driven Consumer to reinstate Robertson, echoing the sentiments of Twitter trending topic, #IStandWithPhil. Whether the petition and Twitter support will affect Robertson’s standing with A&E remains to be seen.