Dick Dunce-aty

One of my FB friends recently compared Phil Robertson’s blunder to Paula Deen’s. He wondered why Phil gets to go back to work when Paula’s still a pariah. “Homophobia is no different than racism,” he suggested. I don’t agree that homophobia and racism are the same  but I understand the spirit behind his criticism. On the surface, there seems to be a double-standard at work when comparing the situations. But there’s nothing to gain by comparing two forms of bigotry (racism and homophobia), especially when we consider all the racist crap Robertson said in his GQ interview. This isn’t just about a speaker’s object of derision. We could just as easily claim that speaker location matters. In the world of hate speech, it’s significant that Phil is a man and Paula’s a woman. It matters that Robertson’s show focuses on hunting, a practice intimately connected to our culture’s obsession with guns. We must also remember that Robertson’s anti-gay animus is grounded in the bone-crushing and hypocritical terms of SELECTIVE biblical literalism. Robertson’s logic reflects the laws of biblical times, an era when slavery was permitted, homosexuals were an abomination, and women who had sex out of wedlock (like Robertson advocate Bristol Palin) were stoned to death. Where are these people when clergy members get defrocked for performing same-sex marriages? Is it only freedom of religion when we discuss religious intolerance or beliefs consistent with the religious majoritarian regime? Robertson has every right to say whatever idiotic thing comes to his mind. A & E may likewise chose to suspend and reinstate him. What’s at stake in this controversy is not Robertson’s freedoms of speech and religion, which were never compromised. Those are red herrings. What matters is that a straight, white dude said something ignorant and a bunch of other straight, white people used Robertson as a vehicle to articulate their own homophobia and racism. It’s a lot easier and gentler to say, “I stand with Phil” than it is to screech, “Gays sex is like bestiality,” or, as Phil also intimated, African Americans were so much more pleasant before the Civil Rights Movement. 40% of US citizens now live in a state where marriage equality rules the day. In the last two years, the number of states legalizing marriage equality have more than doubled. Phil’s supporters cling to him because they’re grasping at straws. They may not be able to overcome the tide of acceptance and equal rights for gays and lesbians but they can get 250,000 people to sign an online petition to get Robertson back on his scripted reality show. But here’s something to consider: Duck Dynasty isn’t going to be around forever. Marriage equality is HERE TO STAY. You go stand with Phil. I stand with freedom. You know, FREEDOM–that abstract idea Duck Dynasty fans only seem to care about when it applies to one of their own.