Oh my gosh. Poor Phil Robertson has had his 1st Amendment rights quashed… as some of the biggest bloviators and blowhards on the political right would have you believe. Of course that does not mean they are politically right, but most especially they are not factually correct.
As many other commentators have pointed out A&E, on which Robertson’s show, Duck Dynasty, appears has temporarily suspended him. Oh crap, new shows are already taped with him in them and will be aired in January. That suspension must really hurt.
What is most telling about these conservative complaints is that they are so hypocritical. Dixie Chicks anyone? That singing trio lost all kinds of money when in 2003 one of them, Natalie Maines, spoke up against the looming war in Iraq and told a European audience that not all Americans backed this action.
Without keeping a list and checking it twice many of the naughty and not so nice members of the conservative right threw a hissy fit then and the Chicks were excoriated thoroughly as their patriotism was called into question.
More recently Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin of MSNBC have each lost their programs there due to some objectionable language they used. Bashir said what could be interpreted as a very crude comment on Sarah Palin (though goodness knows she does far more damage to herself every time she opens her yap). Baldwin simply made homophobic remarks about a celebrity photographer whose conduct he took issue with, but that comment occurred during a private confrontation in a public place, not on the air on his show.
Now I have rarely watched Bashir’s TV performance and am familiar with Baldwin only from his appearances in movies and TV shows. I am no great fan of Bashir and I appreciate Baldwin as an actor . Both are ostensibly liberal but that has no influence on me.
But these recent dustups, or the one concerning the Dixie Chicks, or the numerous “gotcha” moments where various of our well known (or possibly not so well known) citizens are caught not on their best behavior seem to generally draw a lot of comment by those we seem to have anointed to form our opinions for us.
However, these critical commentaries pretty much serve no one but the commentators themselves. Their targets, having misspoken, suffer consequences ranging from the faux suspension delivered to Robertson to the actual loss of jobs by Baldwin and Bashir or lost income for the Dixie Chicks to absolutely no consequence whatsoever (Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann).
Yet I am uncomfortable with all this noise, superfluous and hypocritical as it may be coming form all quarters.in protest of ugly stupid words. Yes, Brad Paisley had his song “Accidental Racist” knocked, and yes Steve Martin apparently tweeted a racist joke (his main sin being that the joke simply was not funny). And the PR lady going to Africa tweeted about how she was safe from AIDS since she was white.
Ultimately I don’t give a shit.
Whether I have done so in the past or not, before I get my shorts in a knot about something someone has said somewhere that may offend a particular group or type of other human being, I am going to ask myself this question. “is the person speaking these words in a position to affect public policy or to effect change in our policies or society?” If not, leave them alone. If so, then by all means go after them. Such an attitude could prove harmful to our nation. Bachmann and Cruz serve in Congress and should be more responsible.
At the same time there are some racist, low-minded, folks who do not inhabit a seat of power but who still wield immense influence over the opinions of their listeners, viewers, or readers. (Yes, Rush, you know who you are) And I suppose that where some nonentity has taken the opportunity to not only speak intolerant words but has combined them with negative actions that impact others they deserve our scorn.
But, folks such as I who reach a limited audience or even most MSNBC hosts who reach substantially fewer viewers than their Fox counterparts, or those who speak only in some private capacity but have somehow been placed in the spotlight, let us not waste our precious time getting all upset about them.
Phil Robertson is on a very popular TV program but it would not surprise me to know that the vast majority of the show’s fans already share most of his retrograde opinions so his ability to change minds is limited.
My Facebook friends are fond of posting news items about this nonsense. While I may share a philosophy (or not) with them I think I’ll pass in joining their crusades from now on.
But if you want to duck a dynasty, more power to you.