Mainly for lack of anything better to do, Robert weighs in on Phil Robertson, the First Amendment, and why we really don’t believe in free speech

I don’t watch Duck Dynasty. There, I’ve said it. You may commence throwing rotten food or whatever at me.

Seriously, though, I don’t watch it. My wife asked me to watch an episode with her once because she loves the show. As a good, dutiful husband, I did exactly what she asked me to do. I didn’t like it My dislike has nothing to do with anyone’s spiritual beliefs; the show simply doesn’t interest me.

Like many, I’ve been observing the recent public brouhaha over comments made by Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson about his views on gays and the bible. Robertson stated what he believes, the A&E network suspended him, and a lot of people went nuts because his freedom of speech has somehow been violated.

The whole thing is ridiculous and yes, I’m going to tell you why. Let me preface this list by saying that nearly everyone involved except, ironically, Robertson himself, is being stupid.

Reason #1 – Phil Robertson is entitled to his opinion and beliefs and can express them

Our society is supposed to be based on the principle that everyone is entitled to believe as they wish and express themselves as they wish. This is what Robertson did. Whether you, or I, agree with his views is irrelevant. He is entitled to express them. Those who disagree are, in turn, entitled to do the same.

Reason #2 – A&E overreacted

A&E is a private sector company and therefore has the right to regulate what it’s employees say when acting on behalf of the company. Notice the italics, because that statement is critical. I work in the private sector and my employer has very strict rules about what we can and can’t say or do in an official capacity. That’s fine. So far as I know, however, Robertson’s interview for GQ magazine was a personal one, not one in which he was representing A&E or acting on their behalf.

What A&E should have done was issue a statement saying that Robertson’s opinion did not reflect the opinion of the network. Period. Had they done so, the whole matter would have probably died out quickly. Robertson would have had his say, the network would have had theirs, and everyone could move on.

Reason #3 – There’s a better way to deal with differing opinions

I abhor racism, bigotry, and ignorance. I also believe one of the best ways to counter these things is by refusing to give them legitimacy. In other words, I pretty much ignore them and that’s the main reason I don’t listen to any form of talk radio. Let some idiot rant and rave all he wants. If you don’t pay attention to him, he may eventually get the point. If he doesn’t, who cares? Ignore him anyway. Ignorant people with big mouths are looking for attention. Don’t give it to them. It’s that simple.

I’m not calling Robertson an idiot, by the way. From what little I’ve seen he seems like a very smart guy. The idiots here are those who are overreacting and throwing a hissy.

Reason #4 – Lighten up, people

As far as I know, nobody’s been hurt or died as a result of what Robertson said. If he put some noses out of joint, so what? Dial it down, people, you don’t need to throw a fit over every little thing. Say you disagree, say why, and move on.

Reason #5 – Most folks don’t understand the 1st Amendment

People have been screaming that Robertson’s rights were violated. News flash: they weren’t. Was he arrested? No. Does he face criminal penalty? No. Is there a law that says he can’t have his particular belief? No. The First Amendment was written to protect free speech and expression from government action. It was a product of a time in which the government could silence people pretty much whenever they wanted. The government has had nothing to do with this.

Reason #6 – Differing opinions are no threat

I’m secure in what I believe and don’t feel threatened when somebody disagrees. Most public voices, these days, don’t seem to hold this view. It’s a shame, because is this sort of thing really worth fighting over? I doubt it. My father used to tell me ‘never argue politics or religion. Nobody wins.’

People who think this sort of thing is a persecution of their religious beliefs are off their rockers. You want to see real religious persecution? Try being an Christian in Saudi Arabia.

Reason #7 – I don’t think most people believe in truly free speech

The only speech we really want to be free is the speech we agree with. We don’t like it when people disagree with us. I know I don’t. We all crave the acceptance of others. For that reason, when we hear something we don’t like, we do our best to shout it down and silence it because it’s ‘offensive.’

For speech to truly be free, it has to include the speech we hate. Counter the voice you don’t believe with your own. Let’s look at the Westboro Baptist Church, which behaves in a fashion I find thoroughly disgusting. The best method for fighting these morons are the groups who stand up to them when they protest. They always massively outnumber the Westboro gang and thereby show them how marginal they really are.

Now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, here’s a parting thought. Stand firm for what you believe, express it boldly, but don’t take away another person’s right to do so because if you do, you might be next.

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