Late Friday, in a move that surprised no one who understands how the American economy works, A&E announced it was calling off its suspension of Phil Robertson.
Robertson, for those of you who've been living in a cave on Mars, is the hard-livin', hard-prayin', duck-huntin' patriarch of America's most popular family, the Robertsons of "Duck Dynasty" fame.
The Robertsons have long beards and pretty wives, they make a ton of money, and their show "Duck Dynasty" is one of the most popular TV shows in America. Did I mention they make a ton of money? Keep that in mind, because it's important!
The Robertsons make a lot of money - not just for themselves, but for their advertisers, their sponsors, their network, and the retail stores that carry their merchandise. It's an important point that should not, and must not, be lost in this discussion. Simply put, it explains why Phil Robertson is back on A&E, less than two weeks after he was suspended.
In the January issue of GQ Magazine, which hit newsstands December 18, Phil Robertson shared his views on homosexuality. Actually, he didn't even share his views so much as he merely quoted passages from the Bible. When the interviewer asked Robertson what he considered to be a sin, Robertson, a devout Christian, replied: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph it out from there -- bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman, and that woman and those men."
Citing Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he continued, "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers -- they won't inherit the kingdom of God."
The gay community, not surprisingly, objected to Phil Robertson's comments. GLAAD released a statement the day GQ hit the newsstands that read in part, "Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors."
Sensing a potential backlash from those sponsors, A&E suspended Phil Robertson, and the reaction was swift, fierce, and completely predictable: Liberals were outraged at Phil Robertson's comments; conservatives were outraged at Phil Robertson's suspension; and liberals were outraged that conservatives were outraged!
What seemed to get lost in the discussion is the important point I made above: The Robertson's make a lot of money.
This is America, and in America, making money matters. A&E knows "Duck Dynasty" makes a lot of money, and when the network realized it could make even more money by putting Phil Robertson back on the air, it did what any profit-conscious business in the United States would do: it put him back on the air.
This is how America works, and that's why A&E reinstated Phil Robertson.
Still, the gay community doesn't seem to get it. GLAAD issued a statement -- again -- just minutes after A&E reinstated Phil Robertson. The statement read in part, "Phil Robertson should look gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of comparing gay people to terrorists. If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps, then A&E has chosen profits over gay people."
Wait -- stop right there. A&E has chosen profits over people? Shocker!
Why does that surprise you, GLAAD? Yes, that's exactly what A&E did -- it chose profits over people. Then again, that's exactly what A&E did in the first place when it suspended Phil Robertson. The network chose profits over people when it suspended one of its biggest stars for doing nothing more than speak his mind. Phil Robertson has a constitutional right to speak his mind, but A&E shut him down anyway, because it feared the financial fallout from his statements.
When A&E suspended Phil Robertson, it chose profits over Phil Robertson. When A&E reinstated Phil Robertson, it chose profits over gay people. The network never cared about gay people, and it never cared about Phil Robertson. It cared about money. Why does this surprise anyone? This is how America works.
In America, we have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression. To all you liberals out there, that means Phil Robertson can say whatever he wants about gays. To all you conservatives out there, it means Bob Costas can say whatever he wants about guns, Martin Bashir can say whatever he wants about Sarah Palin, Bill Maher can say whatever he wants about Teabaggers, the Dixie Chicks can say whatever they want about George W. Bush, and Alec Baldwin can say whatever he wants about airline stewardesses, his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, gay paparazzo's, and everyone else he seems to have a problem with.
Whether or not we approve of what these people say doesn't matter. In America, we express our approval with our wallets. Money determines the winner, profits are chosen over people, and A&E, just like any profit-conscious business in America, makes its decisions accordingly. This is how America works.
So if you're still wondering why Phil Robertson is back on A&E, do yourself a favor and walk into any Walmart, Sears, Walgreens, or Cracker Barrel. Count the number of "Duck Dynasty" products on the shelves, and consider how much money is being made off those products. Consider how much more money is being made every week, when millions of Americans tune into A&E to watch Phil Robertson and his "Duck Dynasty" clan. In America, money matters, and money always wins.
That's why Phil Robertson is back on A&E, and that's how America works.