As you’ve probably heard, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson has been suspended by A&E over what many are describing as “anti-gay” comments he made to GQ.
So what did he say that was so bad? Here’s an excerpt, via E!:
“‘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 tells the magazine. Paraphrasing Corinthians, he says, ‘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. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.'”
… “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would 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.”
… “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ‘em, give ‘em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ‘em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
Much of the criticism coming from conservatives (regarding A&E’s decision) has focused on the fact that a). Robertson was merely stating an orthodox Christian position, and b). that this is just his opinion — and he’s entitled to it (and besides, why are people so offended these days?).
But I’ll make another observation: This may be an attack on “unsophisticated” country folks as much as it is an attack on orthodox Christianity.
When you consider the more effete, cosmopolitan America that “Pajama Boy” represents, you’ll get a sense for why the Duck Dynasty folks are out of touch with today’s acceptable norms. There is a huge schism between red state America and blue state America, and these two stories seem to symbolize the yawning chasm.
I’ve always felt that this same dichotomy was at least partly to blame for why the mainstream media hated Sarah Palin so much. It wasn’t merely her conservative positions, but the fact that she was from Alaska — and that she never attempted to conform to their manner of speaking, style, or customs. She didn’t culturally evolve. (Kirsten Gillibrand no longer sleeps with two rifles under her bed, but Sarah from Alaska still goes hunting!)
Along those lines, it’s not just what Robertson said, but how he said it. Suppose, for example, he had simply said: “My faith tradition teaches that traditional marriage is the right path.” It’s hard to imagine that would have landed him in any trouble.
I mean, there are certainly alternate ways to discuss a religious objection to homosexuality that don’t involve “vagina” or “anus.” Perhaps he might have gone that route? (As Erick Erickson, who defended Robertson, concedes: “Certainly some things you or I might have phrased differently, but a self-made man at sixty-five should be shown some latitude.”)
To be sure, always having to make one’s case in the most eloquent and precise manner (in order for it to be deemed acceptable by polite society) may be the first step toward one’s position being deemed unacceptable no matter how finely parsed.
But that doesn’t negate the fact that a big reason this happened is that a pretty regular guy — a guy who hates phonies and tells it like it is — is going to be rhetorically unequipped to navigate the PC land mines that 21st century fame demands.
It has as much to do with class and geography and culture and attitude as it does with religion.
Politics and reality TV are increasingly causing these two worlds to clash. Until we find a way to domesticate these guys with the gun racks in their pickup trucks, I suspect this will be a recurring story.
There really are two Americas.