Duck Dynasty star and family patriarch Phil Robertson was recently suspended from the popular reality show on A&E for sharing his views on homosexuality in an interview with GQ Magazine. Among his quotes:
“It seems like, to me, a vagina – as a man – would be more desirable than a man’s anus.”
Okay, I personally cracked up when I read this one. I pictured the dude saying it to the interviewer, staring him in the eye, Louisiana bayou accent, semi-angry matter-of-fact facial expression and all. You just pictured it too. I agree wholeheartedly with Phil’s statement, although he put it in far more colorful and graphic terms than some would choose. A woman’s, um, happy place (imagine Phil saying that instead) seems more desirable to me also. In fact, it seems that way to all straight men. Straight men like vagina. It’s difficult to imagine someone having a penis and not liking vagina. Okay, I’m having way too much fun saying vagina. I’ll stop saying vagina now.
Whether one agrees with his statement or not, one must acknowledge that Robertson prefaced it by stating “it seems like, to me”, clearly establishing that the sentiment was expressing his personal opinion, belief and preference. Indeed that quote, colorful as it is, isn’t even the main source of the controversy surrounding Mr. Robertson. That dubious distinction goes to the following gem, offered to GQ when asked what he considered sin:
“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… It’s not right.”
Although Robertson added that he “would never treat anyone with disrespect”, to many, the statement itself is considered disrespectful toward the gay community. A&E suspended Robertson indefinitely. It is unclear whether there will be further repercussions and sanctions against the star and the program itself in the future.
Part of the allure of Duck Dynasty is the family’s refreshing honesty and lack of pretense. If you consider both the era and the region in which Phil Robertson formed his view of the world, it is arguable that one should expect such views. One look at Robertson and one instantly hears banjos playing and sees flashbacks from the movie “Deliverance.” Yet in the politically correct society in which we live, stating one’s negative feelings about someone else’s race, gender, religion, and especially one’s orientation, is frowned upon. GLAAD wasn’t having it, and neither was a network dependent upon favorable public opinion for its survival. That’s a fact that a more media-savvy celeb would have weighed prior to responding, regardless of what his or her true feelings were.
While Robertson clearly suffered from foot-in-mouth disease in this instance, the incident begs the question: “How can one be penalized for providing a direct answer to a direct question, regardless of how incorrect the answer is deemed to be?” In a don’t ask-don’t tell society, Robertson told, but GQ asked first. For that reason alone, I personally hope that Phil – and Duck Dynasty as a whole – doesn’t suffer from a Paula Deen-esque fall from grace. Survey data shows that Phil’s belief regarding homosexuality is still shared by 44 percent of Americans. It seems his biggest crime is a lack of interview skills, although he could arguably benefit from some enlightenment and sensitivity training, depending on who you ask. Anyone who has ever seen Duck Dynasty – which is one of my favorite shows – knows that Phil isn’t one to mince his words or sugarcoat the truth as he sees it. Truth, according to him, is that homosexuality is a sin. Many people espouse a similar belief; nowadays, many are just afraid to say it.
At the end of the day, regardless of what one’s views are regarding the Bible, sin, homosexuality or anyone else’s lifestyle choice, the lesson is that if there’s anything that America is intolerant of, it is intolerance itself. Duck Dynasty will not be the same while Papa Phil is in timeout for his transgressions. Depending on who you ask, the situation is sad for one of two different reasons – the fact that Phil Robertson is gone, or the fact that he may come back.
As for me, I’m just glad they didn’t ask my boy Uncle Si. There’s no telling what he would have said about … vagina.
Brian C. Scott