The Duck Dynasty Fiasco Says More About Our Bigotry Than Phil’s

Why is our go-to political strategy for beating our opponents to silence them? Why do we dismiss, rather than engage them?

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Margaret Croft / The News-Star / AP

Phil Robertson at his home in western Ouachita Parish, La., on May 15, 2013.

Last night, GQ released a story about Duck Dynasty that quotes Phil Robertson’s thoughts about homosexuality:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

As you can imagine, everyone had an opinion about this statement, including GLAAD and Phil’s check-signer, A&E, who suspended the star indefinitely.

One of the conservative tweeters I follow — one of those Christians convinced that Obama is going to have him killed for his faith — lives for stuff like this. He quickly took to the Twitterverse and posted a side-by-side image of Pope Francis and Phil, with the following caption: “Both preach truth on homosexual sin. One is TIME’s Person of the Year. The other JUST GOT FIRED.”

(MORE: Why Phil Robertson Got Suspended From Duck Dynasty)

The point is worth considering. Even though Phil used crass, juvenile language to articulate his point, what he was getting at was his belief that homosexual “desire” is unnatural and inherently disordered. This opinion isn’t unique to Phil. It’s actually shared by a majority of his fans.

It’s also shared, to some extent, by the Pope. Yes, that Pope — the one on the cover not just of TIME but also of The Advocate.

Of course, The Advocate knows the Pope’s thoughts on LGBT issues, including marriage equality. But as they note, Francis’ “stark change in rhetoric from his two predecessors” has set a positive example for how religious people ought to treat LGBT persons — an example that Phil, an elder at the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, ought to have followed in his GQ interview.

To compare Papa Duck to Papa Francis, as conservatives are doing, is, in my opinion, to misrepresent both of them. Francis, though he privately holds to certain doctrine which some might see as “anti-gay,” has not used any of his public-speaking opportunities to share these with the world. Instead, Francis has repeatedly offered grace to the LGBT community. At one point, he even uttered what might go down as the expression of public humility that singlehandedly saved the church: “Who am I to judge?”

(MORE: Sarah Palin Defends Duck Dynasty Star Suspended for Anti-Gay Remarks)

Phil, on the other hand, went on record as rhetorically asking how any man could ever enjoy gay intercourse, since vaginal intercourse is better. (Which certainly makes you wonder how he’s able to make the comparison.)

There are two notable differences between the Pope’s views on sex, and Phil’s. First, the Pope is a trained philosopher, and has undoubtedly spent countless hours examining, challenging and refining his views. Phil — if we are to take his brief statements on homosexuality as representative of his position — seems to hold a view on sex that manages to reduce the entire orthodox understanding of “desire” down to nothing more than a juvenile “tooshie = bad, vagina = good.”

The second difference has to do with tone. In fairness to Phil, the tone of his off-the-cuff statements may not accurately represent his philosophy on this issue, but I do think it’s a fair representation of what many see as his Southern charm. There’s a way to disagree with majority opinion without coming across as disagreeable. The Pope knows how to do this. Phil does not. As a result, we respect Papa and shame Phil.

For the record, I’m undecided on whether or not I think Phil actually is homophobic, although I certainly think his statement was offensive, and not only to the LGBT community. But I also think that if I were to spend a day calling ducks with Phil, I’d probably end up liking him — even in spite of his position on gay men. It’s quite possible to throw one’s political support behind traditional, heterosexual marriage, and yet not be bigoted.

I’m reminded of something Bill Maher said during the height of the Paula Deen controversy: “Do we always have to make people go away?” I think the question applies in this situation too.

Why is our go-to political strategy for beating our opponents to silence them? Why do we dismiss, rather than engage them? One of the biggest pop-culture icons of today just took center stage to “educate” us about sexuality. I see this as an opportunity to further the discussion, to challenge his limited understanding of human desire, to engage with him and his rather sizable audience — most of whom, by the way, probably share his views — and to rise above the endless sea of tweet-hate to help move our LGBT conversations to where they need to go.

G.K. Chesterton said that bigotry is “an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.” If he is right — and he usually is — then I wonder if the Duck Dynasty fiasco says more about our bigotry than Phil’s.

Brandon Ambrosino is a writer and professional dancer based in Baltimore.

MORE: Miley Cyrus and Duck Dynasty Were Top Yahoo Searches in 2013

1924 comments
SallyMJ
SallyMJ

"Why is our go-to political strategy for beating our opponents to silence them? Why do we dismiss, rather than engage them? ... see this as an opportunity to further the discussion, to challenge his limited understanding of human desire, to engage with him and his rather sizable audience — most of whom, by the way, probably share his views — and to rise above the endless sea of tweet-hate to help move our LGBT conversations to where they need to go."


Maybe the difference is that Ambrosino seeks to bring grace to the discussion instead of hatred. I think he should be listened to.

ThomasEarl
ThomasEarl

Love the sinner but hate the sin, interesting since he distills the sin down to sex, not love between people.  As a matter, some of the arguments people lob at homosexuals could easily fall on heterosexuals, like if you talk about a single sex home raising kids (death and divorce can result in a single parent/sex guardian, and for couples were procreation is no longer their concern, due to either health or age, then marriage for them is necessary anymore because of what, no child producing ~ which probably happened very early in their marriage at 16 or so).  And the comparing laying with beasts to whatever social group you hate at the time, if it wasn't don't date outside your race, it was never marry outside your race (hey they made laws to segregate that as well), and along the way people kept using that laying with beasts line, except when talking about their cousins or such.    If not creed, they nationality, if not nationality, politics and so forth, love the sinner enough to hate them for whatever your book of the holy is interpreted at that time in history when propping yourself up is permissible by knocking others down.  Maybe the human race isn't getting better, the world just smaller with tv and the internet giving instant review of the witch hunts.

AaronSpencer
AaronSpencer

"It’s quite possible to throw one’s political support behind traditional, heterosexual marriage, and yet not be bigoted."


No, it is not.

EricLoucks
EricLoucks

I know nothing about this person but this guys phrasing seemingly simple bigotry jumped out at me as gender confusion or some sort of neurosis. Word placement says a lot. He's humanizing body parts and follows posessive words with an ambiguous one. Realizes his Freudian slip and then rambles

"It seems like" me "vagina" "as" a man "would" be. More desirable. A Man's anus. "I'm just thinking" "She's got more to offer" Dudes. You know. Sin . Not logical. My man.

tmfied
tmfied

I'm sorry gays, why don't you let Phil be Phil?  That's his opinion, and you're not gonna change it.  Phil won anyway, A&E let him back in.

Ha ha ha

JerryKershner
JerryKershner

In this quote the author identifies a really common misunderstanding to wit: "what he was getting at was his belief that homosexual “desire” is unnatural and inherently disordered."

Actually most of my Christian friends do not agree.

We consider that the desire could be absolutely natural, given that man is naturally born in sin. We consider the behavior forbidden, as are many naturally born proclivities.

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

As a white Christian man from the South, Phil Robertson embarrasses me. I want everyone to know that most of us are NOT like him at all.

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

I'm so glad most people under 30 are smart enough to realize that this anti-gay anti-black religious nonsense is just that: nonsense. I don't care what they do with their "beliefs" as long as they keep them within the privacy of their own homes. Isn't that what the anti-gay folks always say to gay people? Except they substitute the word "lifestyle" in there.

BoredBoredBored
BoredBoredBored

More evidence that the liberal fascists have been brutally oppressing the mass of the U.S. populace.  I actually got called a bigot for saying I didn't believe it was an appropriate for a man to violently and repeatedly thrust his member into a woman's throat, even if she (literally) "asks for it."  You're telling me I have to raise a child in a nation that believes that any sexual behavior, no matter how potentially painful, dangerous, or alien from affection it is, I have to say it's just super?

mixbox57
mixbox57

Aryans & Entertainment (A&E) Channel's Duck Dynasty?


Maybe we're really smart enough to notice the difference between freedom of speech and freedom of racism. Which did our forefathers die for?

fclark
fclark

"How could any man could ever enjoy gay intercourse, since vaginal intercourse is better. (Which certainly makes you wonder how he’s able to make the comparison.)"


An interesting point. I once read an article in Playboy that cautioned men to be careful about insisting on having anal intercourse with women, saying it was the bacterial equivalent of putting your penis in a sewer. I don't recall anyone losing their job over that remark.

texanninetynine
texanninetynine

I'm not sure what was crass or juvenile about Phil Robertson's choice of words.  He used the same anatomical terms my doctor uses.  I think the point of the article is that Robertson's assumption about which body part is automatically more appealing to a man should be considered crass and juvenile, which is a point of view, if not one universally held.  But I keep reading (here and elsewhere) that Robertson's vocabulary was somehow the problem, and I'm not getting it.  The way I see it, "tushie" (which this article uses) is cutesie and juvenile; anus is neutral and adult.

AsperGirl
AsperGirl

Great article.  It raises a lot of considerations not heard elsewhere.  I actually thought that the Pope's views and Phil's positions were pretty much the same: "It's sin but who am I to judge? That's God's job."  This article correctly points out that Phil Robertson's response also shared his personal reaction to male on male sex and his inability to relate to other desires, and that was crass and bad public relations, and I agree with the author on that.


One mistake the article makes that I've seen elsewhere, is to equate Paula Deen, Chik-fil-A and Martin Bashir's stumbles with Phil Robertson.  I see no resemblance between Phil Robertson's remarks and these other cases of public reprobation for discriminatory behavior and views.


I'd like to point out that Phil Robertson was responding to interview questions about his beliefs (personal and religious) and he answered honestly.  He didn't claim his comments were anything other than personal belief and experience.  They weren't directed at any individual gay person or for some political bandwagon.  On the other hand, Paula Deen was shown/admitted to have used verbally abusive racial epithets in the workplace, exploited her poor black head cook who created many of the dishes in her multimillion dollar empire, and was the subject of complaints of racial discrimination in her restaurants.  Chik-fil-A's flap included the President/owner using corporate money for anti-gay activism and claiming that gays were bringing God's judgment down on America -- the formula that is used by gay-hate groups like Westboro Baptist Church to justify attacks on gays.  Finally, Martin Bashir's misstep wasn't just a misstep: it was an ugly, bitter, personal racist rant against Sarah Palin that was so beyond inappropriate he appeared mentally ill.


In my opinion, the other celebrities should be judged/fired/boycotted for the kinds of behavior they engaged in.  Phil Robertson shouldn't be harassed or punished just for honestly answering questions in an interview about his religious and personal beliefs.


AlBBach
AlBBach

everyone here missed the point, including the author. the story here is how phil robertson and A&E switched places in being the "victim and the bad guy". who is which is determined on your point of view. Phil most likely violated a contractual clause, whether a straight up clause or a moral clause. he is an employee of A&E and they have the right terminate him if he is in violation of A&E's contract and/or standard of company representation and image. he was being interviewed as an employee of A&E. if it is a moral clause, he said more than simply paraphrase the Bible. A&E on the other hand flip-flopped on the issue and so their standard is ambiguous. They apparently have no standards as long as the questionable conduct is profitable or their censure would diminish their profits.

vtecpa
vtecpa

The author missed the point. He is comparing what he "wishes" they said with what they said. Vulgar? Both words are used extensively on prime time TV! What is "Vulgar" is the author "deliberately missing" the real point of the radical left wing controversy. Like his invented example “one of those Christians convinced that Obama is going to have him killed for his faith” which I think every reader should realize for the lie it is. What we are faced with is a ultra-left wing radical author trying to worm their way out of being caught with a radical “spin” on their lips and weaseling out of it.

RositaAsano
RositaAsano

@TJO'HReligion is a curse OF MANKIND??  Are you a devil worshiper or just insane?

RositaAsano
RositaAsano

My definition of bigotry is disliking human beings because of their "race" or "gender" created by God the Almighty and "religion" taught to the Apostles by Jesus Christ to pass on to the world.  Being gay is a chosen lifestyle and my disliking the lifestyle doesn't make me a bigot.  People should keep their sexual preference in the bedroom where it belongs.  We all don't have to know how anyone like to take their sex at least I don't. 

Ro12
Ro12

GPLHTS

Godless, Perverse, Lying, Hypocritical, Toxic, Sinners,

I believe the Pope when he said homosexuals need to repent there sins. 

Fact

1. You are not born homosexual you are persuaded to be homosexual.

2. Homosexuality, Bestiality, Pedophilia are sexual disorders.

3. Homosexuality is in the top 10 ways to die.

4. 20,000 U.S. people die annually of hiv/aids.

5. 70,000 U.S. people are infected by hiv/aids annually.

6. $25,000,000,000 (BILLION) annually is given to U.S. homosexuals to promote hiv/aids.

7. HIV is transmitted by all bodily fluids: seaman, blood, saliva, tear drops, and sweat. 

8. Refugee's from other countries not checked for hiv.

9. $25,000,000,000 billion means some gov people have hiv/aids.

Planed parent hood is having a two for one abortion new years special, bring your unborn and also bring one of your grandparents.

Respectfully,

Rob

RobertAllen
RobertAllen

Awesome article.  Thank you for being reasonable.  Making people "go away" or at least unemployable for opinions unpopular with the ruling establishment is the stuff of McCarthyism.  McCarthy did not know when to stop.  Neither does GLAAD.  

jksomma
jksomma

GLAAD lost this one.  Get over it.  It's just a show.  People have way too much time on their hands.

TJO'H
TJO'H

The bible was created by man,who told their lesser's ( those who couldn't read or write) that it was the "word" of god. That proposition is substantially different than "coming from on high". It has further been corrupted by every charlatan preacher to control his own flock of believers, too happy and not to have to think for themselves. Prejudice, bias, bigotry, fear and hate will be with us as long as the suppercillous, sanctimonius, psalm-singers are with us. Religion is the curse of mankind and the righteous hatred it spews forth is its distressing product.

outsider
outsider

Keep screaming, bigots and racists. 


Fortunately, your kind are going away.

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

Which Bible are we talking about?

The Bible is the Word of God!

  Catholics believe that that is the Vulgate!

  Protestants believe that that is KING JAMES!

  Mormons believe that that is the Book of Mormon!

  Why is Phil Robertson more qualified than Tommy Smothers was to speak for God?

  Where were conservatives when Nixon silenced him?

Buzzramdog
Buzzramdog

As has been demonstrated and one would hope TIME would make some sort of editorial correct, THAT was not all he said and NOR was it charming. You conveniently left out his racist comments and his comments comparing being gay to being into bestiality etc. It wasn't some sort of "dude" talk. It was highly racist, bigoted and very offensive.


The amount of people defending him simply showed they had either not read the article or were in fact defending his racism.


TIME you usually do a much better job than this. Do correct yourselves and include the racist comments as well.

SallyMJ
SallyMJ

@EricLoucks  He's a straight man discussing who attracts him sexually as a straight men. Is he supposed to pretend like he's attracted to men? 

Unless you feel you are the one who dictates what people should think, I don't see the problem. 

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

Why don't you guys just admit that you are obsessed with gay people and gay sex even though you keep screaming that it's a "sin." If you don't like it don't do it. In the mean time, pun intended, BUTT OUT. Lol

MichaelAllen2
MichaelAllen2

Rosita you're a hateful ignorant bigot whether you choose to admit it or not! People are born gay....period! No "lifestyle choice" makes no sense hunny....try again!

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

And of course you have no evidence, no studies, no facts to support this. You just pulled this out of your butt like a typical anti-gay, anti-black insult to white people.

RobertAllen
RobertAllen

@Ro12 Ro12 this is not what the article is about.  It is about the whether or not to engage people you disagree with in debate or to revile them.  Please read the article before posting off-topic.  You look ridiculous.

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

No, actually a clear majority of Americans don't believe that black people were better off under Jim Crowe or that men should marry children. Phil is learning that you can't alienate your fans for long and that is why they are leaving him in droves.

RobertAllen
RobertAllen

@TJO'H Paranoid much?  What does this have to do with the essay?

FreeSpeech97
FreeSpeech97

@outsider This is a funny comment since DD has been brought back to A&E because of all of us religious people, who evidently outnumber immoral people.

RobertAllen
RobertAllen

@outsider Wow, advocating genocide for GLAAD?  Read the above article, you might learn something.

billybb
billybb

@Buzzramdog If you find it offensive to compare bestiality to homosexual acts, then you must believe bestiality is some morally repugnant behavior.

FreeSpeech97
FreeSpeech97

@Buzzramdog So what if his gay comments were offensive? Who cares? The comments were not inciting violence against gays and therefore are free speech. Jeez we have religious people being persecuted all over the world for their beliefs, but here in America gays whine because not everyone can be publicly shamed into agreeing with them..yet

RobertAllen
RobertAllen

@Buzzramdog So you supported McCarthyism and the Salem witch trials?  

DouglasO'Brien
DouglasO'Brien

@MichaelAllen2 it seems to me that you are the hateful one. with your use of exclamation marks, suggesting you are yelling your statements, and unsupported, offensive, accusations like "bigot" show that you were probably angry or "hateful" toward Rosita when writhing this.

DouglasO'Brien
DouglasO'Brien

@MichaelAllen2 you seem to me to me more hateful then him. with your use of exclamation marks suggesting you are yelling these statements and irrational accusations of offensive labels like bigot you seem to be clouded in your thought, possibly by anger and the so called "hate."

FreeSpeech97
FreeSpeech97

How bout you try again? People like you demonstrate the unfortunate effectiveness of left wing propaganda. THERE IS NO 'GAY GENE'. Nothing in a persons genome determines sexual preference. It is a CHOICE.

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

But I thought religious people were an oppressed minority deserving "protection" from those vicious and "intolerant" gays. Lol

DouglasO'Brien
DouglasO'Brien

@FreeSpeech97 you are immoral, I am immoral, we are all immoral. the correct statement would be that they are non-Christian or that they decide that they have the authority to chose what is true and what is not in the Bible.


ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

Watching stupid people disappear as they and their outdated hate die of natural causes is not genecide, it's history playing out.

Buzzramdog
Buzzramdog

@FreeSpeech97 a month later: You obviously did not bother reading my entire comment. So you support his racist rants as well? You support his belief men should be allowed to marry girls as young as 15? Easier to train that way? This country should not be rewarding his phony good ol' boy attitude along with his belief in the other things. Sorry but there should be no tolerance for intolerance.

Your answer to that would be......?

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

Remember when those "poor" Christians boycotted Starbucks for the "crime" of supporting marriage equality? They called the CEO the "devil of sodomy" and threw a temper tantrum from the pulpits. Where was your concern for free speech THEN? Hypocrite.

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

"Freedom of speech" means freedom only for self righteous fundamentalists. Let's see how much they support letting an Atheist put up a billboard. Lol

jovianblue
jovianblue

@Thomas.J.Miller @MichaelAllen2


Can genetics determine homosexuality? Well, it could be a long time before it can be proven scientifically, one way or another. But enough about God!


Seriously folks..


I can acknowledge that the genetic theory has served as a bridge to homosexual acceptance in some small way, but guess what..?


It doesn't matter if it's a choice or not!


People should be free to do what they want with equal opportunity, without  harm to others, and without defining harm in some abstract, one-sided way.


Yes, that's right.. we should continue to allow straight individuals to marry, if they so choose.. since they always could have chosen not to get married. It's a choice, afterall.


And to be perfectly honest, most gay guys don't really want to hear about Phil's vaginal intercourse either (irregardless of whether he was asked). So, something we have in common!

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

And yet you have nothing to overturn the scientific consensus that being gay is not a choice. Don't you think it's time you stopped sticking your fingers in your ears and listened to FACTS? The only people who think you can change someone's orientation are folks who think you SHOULD change someone's orientation.