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The Obligatory “Duck Dynasty” Post

December 29, 2013

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It isn’t often I throw up three icons in front of a post, much less having “Political Scott” and “Ranty” up at the same time.  Here we go, though.

Note:  If you’re sick to death of reading posts about the media fiasco surrounding the opinions of Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan, GOOD FOR YOU!  You’ve already won the prize in the bottom of the Crackerjack box.  Feel free to continue reading if you like.

So, if you’ve been existing under a rock or on the moon, or otherwise keep yourself blissfully unaware of the turmoils of modern news and media, here’s the short, short version of what it is I’ll be chatting about.

There is a hugely popular reality show called “Duck Dynasty.”  It follows a family of self-made millionaires from the deep South who have made their fortune by making high-quality duck calls and accessories.  It has made them even wealthier, with their names and faces on many popular products.  The father-figure of this family (their actual patriarch), Phil Robertson, was interviewed by GQ.  During this interview, he made some disparaging, dismissive, and entirely disrespectful statements about homosexuals.  The media exploded, liberals condemning his less-than-inclusive-and-tolerant statements, conservatives defending his right to say things that they agree with.

You can’t swing a synthetic facsimile of a feline of the deceased persuasion (made without products that use animals, animal by-products, or products produced via animal cruelty) without hitting an impassioned opinion about Phil Robertson’s statements or the impassioned reaction to them.  Whether it’s a segment on a news program, an energetic Youtube video, or even a post on social media or (like this) a blog, there’s a LOT of stuff out there talking about this.

One of the things I notice as a common factor in just about every post or segment I’ve seen, though, is that about three-quarters of them start off with “Now, I never even knew about this show before, but…”

So, here’s a potentially unpopular opinion that I’m about to voice.  A deep south, conservative Christian was asked about his views, and he gave them.  I’m hard-pressed to see what the interviewers were expecting, other than the responses they got.  He didn’t just give a negative opinion about homosexuals and homosexuality; he did it in the laconically witty and folksy manner that he uses to dispense all of the “wisdom” that he has become known for on the show.  If you use this manner of speaking to talk about, say, the humorous aspects of getting an alligator away from your pot of Gumbo, that’s good television.  If you use it to talk about a group of people who are still fighting for their equality and, in some views, their person-hood, that’s going to sound a lot like hate speech.  However you look at it, though, it’s one man’s opinion; an opinion developed from the culture in which he was raised, and the teachings he has been given his whole life.  Phil Robertson’s statement was Phil Robertson’s opinion; one which was fairly predictable given his background.  I do not agree with his opinion, but he was invited to voice it.  GQ gave him a public forum in which to speak, and he used it as he saw fit.

So, is it a tragedy that he said what he said?  No.  No, it really isn’t.  It may have been unfortunate, but it’s hardly a tragedy.

The reaction to the voicing of this opinion has been explosive.  Calls for Mr. Robertson to be fired or fined or imprisoned or worse have resounded from many, which brought equally powerful responses in his defense.  Heck, Sara Palin stepped up to say that she was totally behind him, even after admitting that she had never read the interview and had no idea what people were so upset about.

So, is it a tragedy that people have become massively polarized around this one man’s opinion?  You know, it really isn’t.  It’s not like people with these powerful opinions weren’t looking for something to get polarized about.  Many of them are coming down off of their “Miley Cyrus” outrage, and needed the fix.

There.  That’s the tragedy.  It isn’t the opinion, it isn’t the reaction to the opinion.  It’s that we’ve given this thing as much attention and time as we have.

Let’s look at some of the other things we could be discussing.

The government of the Philippines is on the verge of collapsing in the face of revolution.  Syria is STILL embroiled in a horrific civil war.  The government of the United States of America, home of the free, has been violating the fourth amendment rights of, well, EVERYONE.  Corporations have been granted all of the rights of person-hood, but bear none of the responsibilities.  It has been established that, in American politics, money equals speech.  The United States of America has the most economically broken system of caring for the injured and sick in the civilized world, and its government has spent all of its time trying to prevent the implementation of needed improvements.

The world is going to Hell in a handbasket, and we’re talking about what a redneck duck-call maker thinks of gay sex.

I’m not going to suggest we stop talking about the popular culture things that spark our interest.  I’m just going to suggest that, maybe, we prioritize a little.  Maybe it’s time to take the approach that you can’t eat your dessert until after you’ve finished your vegetables.  Sure, we can discuss Miley’s tongue or Phil’s views on man-to-man intercourse, but can we PLEASE work on unemployment, climate change, and the government’s intrusion into our private communications first?  Perhaps spend more time (MUCH more time) on slowing the handbasket down, or perhaps preventing it from going to Hell entirely, before we become incensed that a guy said pretty much what he could be expected to say?

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