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Seldom has an interview in a publication known more for its coverage of men’s fashions than its profiles of celebrities generated such a national conversation.
We’re speaking, of course, of the GQ interview of Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame. Robertson, patriarch of the top-rated cable show, was asked about his view of homosexuality and he obligingly shared his personal views that homosexuality is wrong and a sin. That made lots of people’s wings flutter. Robertson also raised a ruckus with his views on race.
Robertson was quickly suspended from his TV show by A&E, launching a controversy about free-speech rights and whether the TV star was unfairly punished for exercising that right.
Of course it’s not the government that censured Robertson, but his cable-TV network employer. But free speech can be violated by individuals and companies as easily as the government.
While we may not agree with much of what Robertson shared, his suspension was more proof that TV execs don’t want their celebrities to make waves, except in their owns shows. “Duck Dynasty,” while supposedly reality TV, is highly scripted and A&E, it seems, prefers its stars stick to a predictable and politically correct line of speech.
Robertson’s views may not be ours but he has the right to express them. He based his thoughts on his religious beliefs, which we respect and suggest are to be as protected as free speech.
We expressed our views a few weeks ago against a proposed state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Our conclusion was that state leaders have better things to do when their work begins next month. Our editorial drew compliments, complaints and notes to the editor about veering too far from conservative values. We value the sharing of opinions and think a healthy sharing of views is good, not wrong.
Disagreeing with views on sex and race in a newspaper or magazine is a right we all have. That includes TV celebrities speaking their minds.
We live in a world where individualism is too often seen as a problem, faith is OK as long it’s kept to oneself and dissident views, if dared spoken, are quickly punished.
Thus we give our support to Phil Robertson, not for his views but his right to speak them.
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