I believe Phil Robertson, star of A&E's Duck Dynasty has every right to believe whatever he'd like to believe. I also believe he should not be fired from his job or TV show for saying things I disagree with.
And yet: earlier today, I very nearly had a change of heart.
Before I tell you what made me nearly give up on the principle of free speech that I've valued for 30-something years, let's quickly re-cap a few things Phil Robertson has said that made some people very upset:
"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."
"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. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
"Women with women, men with men. They committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions. They're full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil."
The things that I believe are different from what Phil Robertson believes.
- I believe there is no god.
- I believe that at the hand's of our ancestors, 19th and 18th Century African Americans were the victims of cruel, intolerable and inhumane bigotry... and while slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago, its residue is still corrosive and pervasive in the 21st century -- despite the legislative attempts at parity.
- I believe that homosexuals are the same as heterosexuals, except in choosing whom they love. And I believe that choice doesn't make them sinners; I believe that choice doesn't make them unworthy of their god's love and I believe that choice of who to love does not make them evil.
Now, as you might expect, after A&E suspended Phil for his words, the FOX News Hysteria Machine went into Uber-Hyper-Spasmodic Overdrive.
Sarah Palin said:
"Free speech is an endangered species," "Those 'intolerants' hatin' and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us."
Sean Hannity said:
It was a "slippery slope" to begin firing people over things they said.
Megyn Kelly said:
"He is a Christian man -- I grant you he did not say in the kindest way -- but why can't there be a debate about it? Why can't there be a discussion ... instead of 'you are fired.'"
Mike Huckabee said:
"(A) matter of his opinion based on scripture which is not really that off the wall of an opinion."
Martha McCallum said:
"A&E would fire Pope Francis based on their assessment of Phil Robertson."
Then, a week after suspending Phil Robertson, A&E reinstated him.
"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."
(The) "coarse language" he used, and the "mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article," adding that Phil had "also made it clear he would 'never incite or encourage hate'."
Cut to: December 30th, 2013. A NEW video appears on YouTube, dated 2009 and in it Phil Robertson says that men should marry girls when they're young, adding:
"They got to where they're getting hard to find, mainly because these boys are waiting 'til they get to be about 20 years old before they marry 'em," Robertson said. "Look, you wait 'til they get to be 20 years old the only picking that's going to take place is your pocket. You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16. They'll pick your ducks."
Just to be clear, in 2009, Phil Robertson, the star of the series Duck Dynasty on A&E advocated for 20 year old guys to marry girls who are 15.
So I have a few questions:
- A&E, do you think that guys who are 20 should marry girls who are 15?
- A&E, do you want to reconsider your earlier statement, where you said of the Robertsons, that they are the kind of "family America has come to love?"
- Sarah Palin, do you think it would have been a good idea for your 2nd oldest child, Bristol, to get married at the age of 15?
- Sean Hannity, do you think your daughter should have gotten married at the age of 15?
- Sean Hannity, what would you have done if a guy who was 20 wanted to marry your daughter when she was 15?
- Megyn Kelly, do you think Americans should debate whether or not 15 year old girls marry boys who are 20?
Now, before any of you answer, there's one more thing you should know:
In the state of Louisiana -- where Ducky Dynasty takes place -- it is a felony for a guy who is 20 years old to have sex with a girl who is 15 (if they're not married).
In fact, in some US states, when a girl who is 15 has sex with a boy who is 20, that's called "statutory rape." To find out the laws for consent in your state, click HERE.
Again, Phil Robertson and I have a difference of opinion.
I believe 15 year old girls should not get married. I believe that 15 year old girls are just kids and should take their time and become adult women, educated, well rounded, well read, well traveled women, before they consent to become a spouse, wife and mother.
On the other hand, Phil Robertson believes that 15 year old girls should get married... and with that, I'm assuming, he thinks they should have sex with their husband. If I'm wrong about this, Phil, who I think believes that 20 year old boys should have sex with 15 year old girls, please let me know ASAP and I will no longer believe that you think 20 year old boys should have sex with 15 year old girls. And that you think that 15 year old girls have the maturity to commit to marriage, with all of its obligations and responsibilities.
So, while Phil and I disagree, I don't believe that A&E should fire Phil Robertson for believing that 20 year old boys should have sex with 15 year old kids, I do believe that people who watch TV should know that the star of the most popular show on cable TV said in 2009 in a video that is now on YouTune, that 20 year old boys should marry 15 year old girls.