Phil Robertson Was Wrong

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular IMG_2030I do not often make comment here on issues outside of the theological realm, so please forgive this brief indulgence.Let me preface by saying that I am a fan of Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty show.  I watch it often.  I know that it might not be high brow to say that, but I don’t care.  I like the show…it is entertaining and even occasionally inspirational.That said, I am really a bit frustrated by the notion that Phil has been harmed or that his free speech has been hindered in any fashion.  It hasn’t!The Constitution says, “The congress shall make no laws…” abridging freedom of speech.  One does not need to be a constitutional scholar to know that when it says “The Congress” it means THE CONGRESS.

The constitution says NOTHING about whether a contract between an actor on a *fake* “reality show” and the network on which that show is broadcast can hold said actor accountable for speech that reflects poorly on the network’s values.  … This is NOT a “freedom of speech” issue.  His constitutional “freedom of speech” was not infringed upon (despite the statement on the Duck Commander website, which reads: We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.”)   There is a contract between A&E which (at least in the mind of the execs at A&E) Phil appears to have broken.  If this is NOT true, and he has been treated unjustly or illegally, then Duck Commander Inc would certainly sue for A&E breaking their end of the contract.Note that nearly every contract between a production company and actor or sports team and athlete, has provisions for hold the person accountable for issues related to lifestyle and public speech that embarrasses the values of the company.Whether Phil was wrong in terms of the context of what he said is not the central issue – at least not in this blog post.  The central issues is that PHIL WAS WRONG in that he infringed on the values of A&E – values which he was most likely contractually obligated not to infringe upon by either his behavior or his public statements.

Let me say it again:  PHIL WAS WRONG.

Oh, and don’t think for a moment that Phil is just a good old country boy that didn’t know what he was doing.  He is a brilliant and sophisticated business professional.  I believe he knew EXACTLY what he was doing.  He has brought more attention to himself and his beliefs in this matter than he could have otherwise.  Leaving the show is not a problem…his OLDEST son (the preacher) has just left his church and has joined the company and cast.  He will be the “spiritual head” of the family on TV till Phil finds his way back on the show.

Meanwhile, the cottage industry that IS Duck Dynasty (the books, shirts, coffee mugs, and speaking engagements) will reach new heights in profitability.  And I personally believe that this is all BY DESIGN AND INTENTION.  That’s my belief.  Certainly the uproar in social media would indicate that this will be a fan base and financial boom for the Duck Commander business.  Heck, I may even buy me a tee-shirt.

I have NO problem with the people who are petitioning A&E to reinstate Phil.  This is their right.  But what will they do if Phil is not reinstated.  Boycott?  That does not help matters one bit (from a Robertson perspective).  I guess they could boycott “The Walking Dead” (though I doubt their is much cross-over).  Overwhelming support for Phil might hasten reinstatement.  It can’t hurt.  JUST DO NOT PRETEND THIS IS A FREEDOM OF SPEECH ISSUE and say silly things like:  “His First Amendment Rights have been violated.”  That’s simply not true.There are examples of how this works in other fields.

  • Can a church fire a pastor if she says something the congregation does not believe?
  • Can a church fire a pastor for suggesting that a pastor can be a SHE?
  • If an NFL player engages in behavior that threatens his health and well-being, impacting his play or embarrassing the team, can he be disciplined, benched, fired?
  • If an NFL Cowboy Cheerleader gains weight can she be kicked off the squad?
  • If a female teacher has a part-time job as a porn actress, can she be removed from the classroom?
  • If a network new commentator says something that crosses the line, can he/she be taken off the air?

The answer to all of these things is YES.  Illustrations of each of these examples are plentiful.  Consider that last statement about a network news commentator.  Do you remember when Martin Bashir (a liberal MSNBC contributor) was fired for saying some really disgusting things about Sarah Palin?  MSNBC had both the right and responsibility to send Bashir packing for what he said as it crossed their line for what is consider decent and respectable.

  No “freedom of speech” was infringed upon.  What’s happening here is what we call the “free market.”  MSNBC fired Bashir because their fear financial backlash from advertisers. Same thing with A&E putting Phil on the shelf indefinitely, for a statement that A&E believes will affect their bottom line.

(Interestingly, those who campaigned for Bashir to be fired are now defending Phil and attacking A&E – and obvious double-standard, in my opinion).

Oh, and let’s not forget about Alec Baldwin who lost his brief run on MSNBC for a gay slur.

Let’s consider one more point.  The Robertson’s need no more money.  They have enough and will earn much more.  When the contracts come up for renewal, they can make demands, changes, etc.  They can also sell the show out to other networks.  Heck, they can buy/build their own Duck Dynasty for Jesus Network, if they so desire.  If they want to have a platform for sharing their faith, ethical ideals, moral convictions, etc. THAT IS what they should do.  What they are currently employed to do is have a mildly entertaining *fake* reality show…which they have done successfully.  If they want to do something else…leave A&E.

Wherever the show lands, I will still be watching.

Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander
by: Phil Robertson
publisher: Howard Books, published: 2013-05-07
ASIN: 1476726094
EAN: 9781476726090
sales rank: 65
price: $10.99 (new), $11.50 (used)

This no-holds-barred autobiography chronicles the remarkable life of Phil Robertson, the original Duck Commander and Duck Dynasty® star, from early childhood through the founding of a family business.


Duck calls—though the source of his livelihood—are not what makes Phil Robertson the man he is today. When asked what matters in his life, he’s quick to say, “Faith, family, ducks—in that order.”

It isn’t often that a person can live a dream, but Phil Robertson, aka The Duck Commander, has proven that it is possible with vision, hard work, helping hands, and an unshakable faith in the Almighty. Phil’s is the remarkable story of one man who followed the call he received from God and soon after invented a duck call that would begin an incredible journey to the life he had always dreamed of for himself and his family. In the love of his country, his family, and his maker, Phil has finally found the ingredients to the “good life” he always wanted.

If you ever wind up sitting face-to-face with Phil, you’ll see that his enthusiasm and passion for duck hunting and the Lord is no act—it is truly who he is.

If you’ve watched the exceedingly popular A&E® program Duck Dynasty®, you already know the famed Phil Robertson. As patriarch of the Robertson clan and creator of Duck Commander duck calls, he fearlessly leads his family in a responsible work ethic and an active faith.

But what you don’t know is his life before the show. In the pages of this book, you’ll learn of Phil’s colorful past and his wild road to the “happy, happy, happy” life he leads today. Before the “happy,” Phil’s passion for the outdoors and wild living led him down some shady paths. As a young husband and father, he became the proprietor of a rough bar and lived a life, as he says, of “romping, stomping, and ripping” for a number of years. He even left his wife and young boys for a short period of time.

Through it all, Phil Robertson has lived his life as a “called” man. Called to live off the land, called to leave a starring role in Louisiana Tech football (playing ahead of Terry Bradshaw) for duck hunting, called to wild living, called to create a new kind of duck call—and finally, called to follow God and lead a life of faith.

In this eye-opening and rousing book, you’ll find stories that will shock you, as well as those that will inspire you. You’ll get to know the man behind the legend, and you’ll come away better for it.

Leave a Reply