The gay advocacy organization that pressured the A&E network into silencing Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty has repeatedly called for censorship against content with which they disagree.
A&E Television Networks, LLC, a joint venture between Hearst Corporation and Disney-ABC Television Group, suspended Robertson last week after his off-color comments about gays and minorities appeared in GQ magazine. (RELATED: Paglia: Duck Dynasty uproar ‘utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist’)
The decision jeopardized A&E’s flagship program and set off a cultural battle that has broken almost entirely along corporate/popular lines. Companies from A&E itself to Cracker Barrel experienced an intense, widespread and almost certainly unexpected backlash for their perceived censorship of the Louisiana icon. (RELATED: Cracker Barrel: A Tale of Two Press Releases)
Most recently, Twitter found itself on the receiving end of a popular uproar after it blocked a pro-Robertson hashtag. (RELATED: Twitter blocking petition supporting Phil Robertson)
But Robertson’s suspension did not come about in a vacuum. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) aims specifically to silence political opponents and highlights its censorship efforts in public statements and fundraising pitches.
“Why do we still need GLAAD?” asked GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz at the organization’s media gala in Los Angeles in April 2013. “We haven’t won yet.”
Cruz continued. “We have a long way to go before hate mongers like the National Organization for Marriage are no longer given platforms to spread anti-gay hate. That’s why GLAAD is on the ground fighting for our future.”
Later in the speech Cruz applauded GLAAD’s “Commentator Accountability Project,” thanks to which news anchors are “finally — finally! — calling out people like Brian Brown [of the National Organization for Marriage], Tony Perkins, and groups like the Family Research Council who work day in and day out to make life more difficult for LGBT families.”
GLAAD vice president of communications Rich Ferraro explained what the commentator accountability project is in a street-side interview in New York.
“Our program staff monitors the media to make sure that anti-gay defamation is corrected and doesn’t occur anymore so that those stereotypes that you see about gay people in the media or when we have anti-gay voices in the media GLAAD responds to make sure that the LGBT community is heard.”
In fact, legally, defamation can only be against individuals and not against groups. You can’t defame an entire group because there’s no individual who can claim specific damages.
Actor Alec Baldwin criticized GLAAD’s tactics in canceling his show on MSNBC, calling the group the “fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy.”
GLAAD did not return a request for comment.