An interesting little tale about the intersection of tolerance and public opinion:
Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson will return to work on A&E’s reality show despite his comments about gay immorality, the channel said, reversing its decision to suspend him after facing a backlash and threatened boycott.
In a statement A&E said it was bringing Robertson back after discussions with his Louisiana family featured in the reality series and “numerous advocacy groups.”
Last week, the channel had put Robertson on what it called an indefinite “hiatus” because of his comments in a GQ magazine article that the Bible views gays as sinners akin to adulterers, prostitutes and swindlers.
A&E said it decided to drop Robertson from the show about a wealthy family that makes duck calls because it is part of a company whose core values are “centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect.”
Robertson’s remarks were quickly slammed by groups including GLAAD, the gay rights watchdog organisation. But A&E’s move against Robertson provoked a flood of support from those who share his views and others who defended his freedom of speech.
A petition calling for A&E to bring him back reached 250,000 signatures and counting in about a week.
This is, of course, absolutely damn all to do with the First Amendment. That only says that the government cannot limit free speech: it says nothing at all about whether public mores can or should limit it.
It is, however, about tolerance. He’s got some fairly biblical ideas about Teh Gayers including the idea that they’ll not go to heaven if they do what comes naturally. At least he’s not proposing that walls be tumbled over on to them.
But by far the most interesting part of this is that certain people were not willing to be tolerant about his words. And I’m afraid that that’s where the important part of it all is. It’s no damn good calling for tolerance for me but not for thee: that’s not actually tolerance at all.
It’s entirely right to insist that we be tolerant of what other consenting adults get up to. Including, absolutely, two men shacking up with a couple of toy poodles. Or any other variation of gender and or sex that any groups of consenting adults wish to cohabit or share bodily fluids with. But that very same tolerance means that we must also, all, put up with those who shout fire and brimstone about people doing that.
No, we don’t have to put up with incitement to immediate violence. But we do indeed have to put up with people who insist that those who play the todger to the bum game cannot get to meet the sky fairy.
Because, y’know, that’s what tolerance means.
As to the TV station, they’ve just looked at which side their bread is buttered. And there seem to be many more fans of the show who are tolerant of such speech than there are who are not.
Oh well, everyone does indeed say that they want to live in a democracy, don’t they?