“Duck Dynasty” dad Phil Robertson has been placed on indefinite suspension by the A&E Network following his recent comments on homosexuality, the network announced Wednesday night.
“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty,” the network said in a statement.
“His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”
Earlier Wednesday, Roberston had responded to critics who had slammed him for very graphic statements he made about his preference for heterosexual sex over homosexual sex.
“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior,” he said in a statement sent to FOX411.
“My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.
“However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
To be perfectly clear: Phil Robertson’s language was gross, and he ought not to have said what he did in the way that he did. I have no problem with A&E distancing themselves from Robertson, and criticizing him.
But suspending him?
Violence has long been a staple of US cable television shows, but most producers have been coy about sex — until recently, when an explosion of explicit content flooded the small screen.
The titillatingly-titled “Masters of Sex” is the most obvious example, but while there are no recent studies most industry watchers say fornication has never been as widely on display on TV.
Pushing boundaries, the series includes multiple simulated orgasms and acres of nudity, as well as sex toys/research tools like one named the “Ulysses,” basically a clear plastic vibrator with a camera inside, which films what happens in orgasm.
“Certainly TV, including broadcast TV, seems far, far more able to tackle subjects it previously didn’t address,” professor of cinema and television Richard Walter told AFP.
Many modern shows “contain sex and violence in ways that would have been unthinkable not too many years ago,” added the academic from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Pay TV channel HBO’s hit shows including “Game of Thrones,” “Girls,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “True Blood” are full of male and female nudity and sex, as are rivals’ series like “The Bridge,” “Spartacus” and “Da Vinci’s Demons”.
“With pay cable, you take license. Your licenses are sex, violence, and bad behavior. I think the audience wants to do it for the same reason programmers want to do it — to be on the edge,” he told the Television Critics Association.
All that is fine with the entertainment industry, which routinely celebrates the grotesque, the lurid, and the vile. But the A&E Network is so morally responsible, so scrupulous in its moral vigilance, that it will remove from the air a redneck who made crude remarks about homosexuality in a magazine interview.
This is not about the crudeness of Phil Robertson’s ignorant language (for which he should apologize). This is about Phil Robertson’s moral and religious beliefs (for which he owes nobody any apology).
Such is tolerance today among our media and entertainment elite. What is wrong with saying, “Phil, that was an idiotic thing to say. Shame on you” — and moving on?
I hope the Robertsons tell A&E to go to hell. I expect that they will.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
In America, you can believe that two gay men have the right to hire a third-world woman to
manufacture and sell them a baby, but you can’t believe there’s anything wrong with homosexual activity or the homosexual lifestyle. Cue the Law of Merited Impossibility in 3…2…1…
UPDATE.2: A reader writes:
I’m certainly turned off by some of Phil’s talk (happy Jim Crow blacks among other things) but the network reaction is farcical. They were happy to see the Nielsen numbers as American TV watchers were attracted by the Robertson’s rural religiosity but when the substance of that religiosity was revealed, well, it just gets awkward don’t it. Keep it superficial and we can talk.
I, for one, am looking forward to The New York Times‘s reaction. Selma 2013!
UPDATE.3: From the comments thread:
They suspended him. Liberal tolerance wins again. The most popular cable show ever, featuring good Christians and simple living, is getting attacked because of a HATEFUL minority. This is wrong. And as I said on the other thread, I’m an atheist.