CHICAGO — Truth Wins Out strongly condemned the cable network A&E today for reinstating Duck Dynasty reality show actor Phil Robertson, who was suspended for making blatantly racist and homophobic remarks in an interview with GQ. In backing Robertson, A&E is turning a blind eye to bigotry in order to pad the bottom line. Their foul, indecent move may have inadvertently opened a new Wild West era in media where anything goes — including hatred of minority groups — as long as it turns a profit.
"This is a disgraceful decision that gives a pass to prejudice and puts money before morality," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "It sets the stage for an 'anything goes' media environment, where bigots are just another demographic to be catered to and exploited for financial gain. A&E took the low road and its failed attempts to justify its inexcusable actions have reflected poorly on the cable network and deeply tarnished its brand."
A&E released an embarrassingly insufficient public statement defending its unconscionable decision:
…Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family … a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.
So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.
We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign ( PSA ) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.
As the media market becomes more decentralized and competitive, it raises questions about falling standards. Will there be a day in the near future where a station marketed as "politically incorrect" broadcasts dehumanizing shows about minority groups? Are we getting closer to an age where deliberate publicity stunts designed to upset particular minority groups are cynically employed to maximize earnings and ratings? Will bigots become the next niche market pandered to by media executives under the guise of free speech and liberty?
Predictably, anti-gay activists are cooing. Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, went on FOX to express his unrestrained joy:
"A&E Network's reversal in the face of backlash is quite telling to the American people who are growing tired of GLAAD and cultural elites who want to silence people and remove God and His word from every aspect of public life."
"Ironically, this move could backfire on social conservatives," said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. "If we have a sickly media environment where LGBT people can be demonized and the painful African American experience can be minimized, then it is open season on all groups, including fundamentalist Christians. It will be interesting to see how gleeful Tony Perkins is when unflattering and untrue stereotypes about Christian conservatives becomes a staple of the new media environment."
Indeed, social conservatives have been among the touchiest when it comes to what they deem "political correctness." They went apoplectic on February 1, 1993, when Michael Weisskopf, a reporter with The Washington Post, wrote that followers of the Christian Right are "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command." Fundamentalists also became agitated, for example, when Ted Turner said that Christianity was "a religion for losers."
The reality show actor, Phil Robertson, made news in his GQ interview when he said:
"It seems like, to me, a vaginaas a manwould be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."
"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," he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlersthey won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
Robertson's defended his ignorant and unchristian remarks to a Bible study group at his hometown church in West Monroe, La. According to Robertson: "Jesus will take sins away, if you're a homosexual he'll take it away, if you're an adulterer, if you're a liar, what's the difference? If we lose our morality, we lose our country."
Robertson also made underreported remarks that were racially insensitive:
"I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person," Robertson is quoted in GQ. "Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field....They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people'not a word!...Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."