Rightbloggers Prove They're No Sissies By Supporting Duck Dynasty, Beating Up Pajama Boy
Through all the recent gay watershed events, he's tried to get with the program and portray his seething contempt as something else -- like love of liberty -- which, while effective with some people, is not as viscerally satisfying as the Old Ways.
Then, in one week, two things happen: one of the Duck Dynasty guys tells gays they're basically the same as pig-fuckers, and gets suspended for it; and Organizing for America puts out an ad for Obamacare featuring a wan-looking young man in pajamas.
Our hero's skull cracks open and becomes an id-in-the-box, with slurs and gibberish springing out. Which has a bright side: Plenty of material for this column!
Let's start with Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty, an enormously popular reality TV show about a family of sporting goods millionaires who appear on camera looking like a cross between the guys in ZZ Top and Brian David Mitchell, and talking about how much they love the Holy Bible.
Three things that usually go unmentioned should be kept in mind here: One, the Robertsons didn't always look like that -- years ago, at least some of them looked like generic, coiffed, rich yuppie bros:
Two, there is enormous potential for publicity and merchandising in appearing regularly on reality TV -- which, despite the misnomer, is not particularly real -- which may be why these millionaires chose to dress and act like mysterious swamp folk rather than like the Abercrombie & Fitch models they once resembled.
Three, since reality shows are marketing scams strung out to series length rather than cinema verite, and rely on all parties involved performing to expectations, the networks' contracts for them tend to be -- as the Voice demonstrated with a peek at a reality show contract in 2011 -- very binding in terms of the performers' behavior.
The Dynasts' contract is unavailable, but it's unlikely that A&E left a loophole saying one of the performers could go in a national magazine like GQ and tell America that gay sex was like bestiality, black people weren't "singing the blues" back when they were made festive by segregation, and other crazy-ass shit, without repercussions. Yet that's what Robertson did, and A&E suspended him for it.
People who hate homosexuals turned out en masse for Robertson, as did Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, and Sarah Palin, the latter of whom reacted with pleasure when MSNBC tossed Martin Bashir for making a crude joke about her. Among rightbloggers, the suspension was portrayed as an assault on Robertson's right to be on the reality TV show of his choice -- we mean, free speech!
"Robertson gave an interview to GQ, in which he is reported to have expressed opinions that run afoul of the current political correctness, which places gay rights and sensitivities above the rights of others to their opinions," fist-shook Bryan Preston of PJ Media. "Expressing such opinions often leads to conflicts with the thought police, proving once again that a liberal doesn't really care what you think, as long as you agree with them entirely."
Well it makes sense -- wasn't our Lord crucified for comparing gay people to pig-fuckers? (Via.)
"He's literally guilty of a thought crime against humanity," wept Hot Air's Mary Katharine Ham over Robertson's prostrate form, "even if he is literally tolerant of gay people every day of his life." (Translation of that last bit: Robertson said "I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me" after he got in trouble.) "There is no room for tolerance of him."
Camille Paglia, still pretending to be a Democrat for the reality show that is her career, called the suspension "punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist," and added "This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960's that have been lost by my own party." "Intolerant, Anti-Straight groups are targeting Duck Dynasty," tweeted Fox News man Todd Starnes. (Anti-Straight? Didn't they open for Warzone at the Rock Hotel in '91?)
The American Conservative columnist and professional Jesus freak Rod Dreher had no fewer than eight posts on Robertson. At first he was fretful: "But it's going to be hard for the family. I hope they're ready for what's coming," he moaned, as if the Robertson were po' folk who'd lost the lease on the farm. As Robertson's supporters rallied, though, Dreher got more upbeat. "The thing I like about the Robertsons is they'll be good country people after this is over with," he wrote. "I know those people, so to speak. I live with them."
One born every minute.
Then Dreher turned surly; he advised the Robertsons to "tell A&E to go to hell," and lashed out at "the entertainment industry, which routinely celebrates the grotesque, the lurid, and the vile... Such is tolerance today among our media and entertainment elite." Then he found some gay people who agreed with him, and went for the comity angle, at least so far as he could manage: "If a gay Christian who supports Christian orthodoxy and who tries his or her best to live it out wants to work at a Christian institution, we orthodox Christians must welcome them and defend them." (That would include giving up gay sex, natch, but on the plus side you get to hang out with Rod Dreher.)
Then Dreher brought up Robertson's racist remarks ("haven't received nearly as much press, which just goes to show you who has the most cultural power"), told us about the "paranoid racist things coming out of the mouths of older black people" in his parish, raged against the "New York media environment" and "Two-Minute Hates against figures like Robertson and [Paula] Deen," and fantasized that Robertson "would be open to talking to a black pastor (say) of his generation and place about what life was like for black folks back then." (Depends; how much money is in it?) When he learned the Robertsons might leave A&E (which, the more cynical among us might suspect, was the plan all along), Dreher said, presumably with a straight face, "This is a matter of honor for that family," and that people who didn't understand that "don't really understand the South..." Later, "So many liberals, for example, love to praise exotic foreign and primitive cultures for their authenticity," etc.; still later: "If you're not interested in Duckgate, then please move on... This story is exactly the kind of thing I like to talk about and to think about. Hence all the posts." Dreher might be interested in another hit reality TV show: Intervention.
Eventually, the First Amendment schtick ran out of steam; John Nolte reported for Breitbart.com that "FOR DUCK DYNASTY, MANY OPTIONS EXIST OUTSIDE ANTI-CHRISTIAN HOLLYWOOD," including the internet or Fox News, so the Hollyweird lieberals' crime was not being right with God, not censorship (though they were still "McCarthyistic," said Nolte -- since when are these guys anti-McCarthy?). Indeed, many rightbloggers larded their enraged posts with warnings that A&E would pay for its gay intolerance by losing its biggest moneymaker. It'll be the Battle of Chick-fil-A all over again -- they'll all protest by doing something easy, and then lose an election!
In fact, many of the brethren came around to the idea that A&E was within its rights, and then some. Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary admitted "the right to free speech has nothing to do with having a gig on television," and felt the real problem was that "popular culture has rendered those with negative views about homosexuality, whether rooted in faith or not, as anathema" by brainwashing normal people into thinking gays were worthy of simple respect.
"Yes, A&E has the right to suspend Phil Robinson," acknowledged Ace of Spades. "A&E also has the right to stand up for a broad and generous principle of Freedom of Thought and Expression. Why does no one speak of that right?" Similarly, what about A&E's right to run more bikini barrel races on Rodeo Girls?
Then, after some obligatory ravings about Hitler and liberals' "Speech Code regime," Spades went a little further: "It is well-conceded that an employer has the right to fire you for some heterodox belief or some oddball sexual habit, but an employer similarly has the right to foster an environment of self-expression and freedom..." Hold on -- employers can fire you for a "heterodox belief" or your sex life? Like if you work in California and your boss finds out you're a Republican, or if you work in Alabama and your boss finds out you own nipple clamps, he can fire you for it? We don't think Spades thought this one through.
Or maybe he did. Maybe some of these guys have figured out that a more satisfying endgame, conservative-wise, would be if everyone agreed that even the personal views of people who are not reality TV performers, or PR flacks with a poor sense of humor, should be subject to the same strict oversight as those who are. For rightbloggers that would be heaven, because there are some things, like workers' rights, that they hate even more than gay people.