‘Duck Dynasty’ Reversal Shows GLAAD Has an Expiration Date

A few years ago, I couldn’t imagine a network disregarding GLAAD’s recommendations

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Peter Kramer / NBC / NBC NewsWire / Getty Images

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty appears on NBC News' Today show in August 2013

Phil v. The Gays. With which will we side? Or rather, against which will we side? This is the question that society demands we answer. Are we anti-Phil or anti-gay or anti-GLAAD or anti-A&E or anti- … ?

Perhaps no other word sums up the Duck Dynasty fiasco as aptly as the word “anti.”

Whenever I hear that someone is anti-this or that, I immediately think of the old quip about MADD – are there any mothers for drunk driving? – and ask myself if anyone is really in favor of the particular thing being protested. Since GLAAD has recently taken a hard-line stance against Phil Robertson’s “anti-gay” comments, I’ve been asking myself a similar question about defamation: Who among us is for it? Most of us are decidedly against defamation, although we choose not to publicly participate in institutional demonstrations to prove how against it we are. But, of course, GLAAD is an institution, and therefore their criticism reverberates at systemic levels.

(MORE: The Duck Dynasty Fiasco Says More About Our Bigotry Than Phil’s)

Founded in 1985 in the wake of the AIDS crisis, GLAAD was formed to protest skewed coverage of LGBT issues and “to put pressure on media organizations to end homophobic reporting.” The original name was an acronym for “Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,” and although the organization has recently rebranded itself by deciding that the letters G-L-A-A-D aren’t actually going to stand for anything any more, their reputation for protesting defamatory speech is well known both within and without the LGBT community.

It goes without saying that GLAAD has done a great deal of good for the LGBT community, and for that they deserve our applause and honor. As they noted in their announcement heralding their name change, their work continues to educate and influence the greater culture. Historically they’ve been a symbol of inclusion and tolerance, and they’ve worked tirelessly to infuse these values into our controlling media discourses. Frankly, though, I don’t think their hasty reaction to Phil Robertson displayed our LGBT community’s best values.

Before many of us even learned that Phil Robertson was interviewed by GQ, GLAAD had already convinced us that Phil’s words were vile and offensive, and called upon A&E “to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.” (I still wonder how many of us – commentators included – have read the actual story in GQ.) A&E offered its own kneejerk response to GLAAD’s kneejerk response, and placed Phil on “indefinite” hiatus, which then prompted some Evangelicals to offer up their own kneejerk response which had something to do with the freedom of speech and now – did I hear this correctly? – Chick-fil-A. In the end, after carefully reviewing all of the responses, A&E issued a final response explaining their decision to lift Phil’s suspension, which resulted in yet another predictable response from GLAAD. I’m not sure how we do it, but we manage to craft responses to our opponents without ever having actual conversations with them.

It isn’t shocking that a conservative Christian duck-hunter from Louisiana has opinions that GLAAD deemed “anti-gay,” and it isn’t shocking that A&E immediately kowtowed to GLAAD at the first drop of the word “homophobic.” What is shocking, however, is that A&E lifted Phil’s hiatus in spite of the fact that they knew GLAAD wasn’t going to be happy about it. A few years ago, I couldn’t imagine a network disregarding GLAAD’s recommendations. A&E is certainly setting a precedent – which makes me wonder about where we are today with queer politics.

In the ’80s and ’90s, GLAAD was necessary, if only because top media outlets needed to be reminded that journalistic ethics applied to AIDS coverage, too. But in 2014, how necessary is GLAAD? I don’t mean to suggest that the organization isn’t doing some good for our world – as I’ve already noted, they are! But as America edges closer and closer to unqualified and full inclusion of LGBT persons, I wonder if an organization whose raison d’etre is to find and shame instances of discrimination isn’t just a bit archaic.

If our goal is to progress beyond defamation against LGBT persons, then that means GLAAD has a sell-by date. To put it in a different, albeit cheekier way: Defamation is good for GLAAD’s business. To bankrupt our society of LGBT defamation would certainly put GLAAD out of work. It’s hard for me to imagine I’m the only one who’s wondered about this. In fact, GLAAD’s recent name-change only confirms that their leadership has been reexamining and revising their purposes moving forward. Again, I’m not suggesting our world doesn’t need GLAAD: There certainly is a place for them. But A&E’s latest reversal should make us question what exactly that place is.

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

There’s a famous quote (most likely apocryphal) often attributed to Mother Teresa that I think applies to both the Duck Dynasty/GLAAD fiasco and the greater political context which frames it. After declining an invitation to an anti-war rally, she is said to have explained, “If you have a pro-peace rally, invite me.” Whatever the true origin of the quote, the idea is that rallying against war is pointless, but doing the difficult work of promoting peace is a better way to effect lasting and seismic changes.

In the same way, speaking out against defamation is a noble thing to do. But gracing our conversation and behavior with the compassion that is sometimes lacking from our loudest political battles – that is more than noble. It’s kind.

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

2695 comments
MarkLamprecht
MarkLamprecht

GLAAD was also so focused on its agenda to bring down Robertson that they misrepresented a Louisiana poll attempting to show the Robertson family was out of line with their neighbors.

PlumHunter
PlumHunter

I guess I am totally out of touch. I do not know what GLAAD stands for nor have I ever heard of this acronym. You think Ambrosino would do the editorial "responsible" thing and give us the words for the acronym. I guess I will have to start watching Phil and friends or Inside Edition(does this Hollywood empty half-hour still air?)

JosephAlexanderNagyJr.
JosephAlexanderNagyJr.

@PlumHunter Without knowing if the article has been updated or not (no indication it has), one would have to conclude you didn't read the article, as it's expansion is given several paragraphs in to the article.

gbt
gbt

It's obvious that in order to satisfy their agenda, GLAAD has completely ignored what Phil actually said and twisted it for their own effect.  Phil has never made any anti-anything remark that I have heard.  He simply stands on what the bible says, that homosexuality is a sin.  But then again so is murder, but no one has made an issue of "anti-murder", simply because it fits their lifestyle.

No one wants to hear that their sin is actually sin.  They want to be pampered, coddled and stroked for their "lifestyle".  One day, we will all have to face up to the truth.  And it takes someone like Phil Robertson to clue you in in advance so you can be prepared... either to face the consequences or make a decision to give your life to a God that will not judge you for it, as your judgment has already been pronounced and sentence passed on God's only son.  All I can say is "duh" for a choice like that... either life or death, love and compassion or judgment.  It's all up to you, speaking to every man and woman on earth, gay or not, murderer or not.

oldskool
oldskool

The gay lobby will only be happy with the complete homosexualization of society and when any objection to their agenda is met with legal sanctions


glaad are the fascist homosexual police for the gay lobby

BillDonnelly
BillDonnelly

I can't believe that 14 million people ever tune in to an ignorant hillbilly who probably needs a bath.  He doesn't represent ANYTHING that interests me.

George_Rock
George_Rock

@BillDonnelly  

What do you think about his views on homosexuality?  Are you a homosexual yourself? 

George_Rock
George_Rock

@LexieHomewood

Actually if you are not a homosexual, you have a duty to speak out against homosexuality.  Homosexuality is perversion, filth, and only leads to death.  Supporting it, or not condemning it when you can, is a sin.  


Feminism too is evil.  All men and women should condemn it, and not allow it in society. 

LexieHomewood
LexieHomewood

@George_Rock@BillDonnelly  Yo George--You don't have to be gay to oppose anti gay views.  You don't have to be black to oppose anti-black racism.  And you don't have to be a woman to oppose an anti-feminist agenda.  You red neck is showing. 

CieloPerdomo
CieloPerdomo

It's not that GLADD has an expiration date. Its that MORE PEOPLE are becoming aware and self-editing and self monitoring. It's a good thing. BTW, more stupid stuff that Phil has said and preached are coming out. At least we were all correct in showing what a backwards hick he is.

George_Rock
George_Rock

@CieloPerdomo 

He was right about homosexuality.  Many people share his views, and support him.   The news media realized this, so now they're digging up other comments he made about other groups to embarrass and destroy him. 

George_Rock
George_Rock

@LexieHomewood

Actually, I think many people share my beliefs, more than you think.   You're on the losing side, and you don't even know it.  That's how clueless you are.

davidbryant48
davidbryant48

@LexieHomewood @George_Rock Actually there are millions who share Phils beliefs! Homosexuality is a sin and an abomination and it cannot and will not be tolerated in any shape or form. I don't care how much society tries to glamorize being gay, its utter disgust in the eyes of God.

LexieHomewood
LexieHomewood

@George_Rock Luckily there are fewer and fewer of people out there who share your beliefs.  Silly nasty person.

tushambi
tushambi

From the day the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, religious groups in America having been preaching hate. Depending where you live and what group you affiliate with, you learn hate for those who are different. There was the period where there was hate for England,Germany,Russia,Japan,etc.  There was predjudice against Irish,Italians,Puerto Ricans,Mexicans,Japanese,Germans,Koreans,Haitians,etc.  There was predjudice against Catholics,Jews,Athiests,Quakers,Menonites,Mormans.etc. There were witch hunts in Salem, laws passed in most state against women,Jews, Blacks,gays, handicaped, etc.   The media and everyone else needs to stop preaching hate and not condone a Bigot like Phil Robertson and pretend he's a hero of sorts. As a blue eyed, blond, tall, heterasexual white male, I don't have to deal with the bigots . I don't think anyone else should have to deal with bigotery either.

George_Rock
George_Rock

@tushambi 

As a self-described heterosexual, you owe it to society to speak out against homosexuality.  Homosexuality is an abomination, a vile sin.  It can't be accepted as normal in society.  Condoning such evil in the name of "anti-bigotry" is exactly how the devil does a number on society.  

George_Rock
George_Rock

@LexieHomewood

If you really cared about humanity, you would condemn homosexuality and urge homosexuals to reject their behavior.   You support deviance, disease, and filth.  You know homosexuality is wrong, but you support it anyway.  You are simply an evil, bad-willed person. 

LexieHomewood
LexieHomewood

@George_Rock@tushambi You are a nasty bit of so-called humanity.  But there's no talking to religious bigots.  No reasoning.  You believe what you believe, and no amount of rationality will faze you.


catbyte08
catbyte08

The comments about gay people by this bigoted fraud are bad enough, but why are his supporters ignoring his equally--if not more--despicable comments about how men should marry 15 or 16 year old girls? His beliefs are truly heinous with him saying that if a man waits until a woman is 20, she will be nothing but a golddigger who will "pick your pocket", but if you get them young they "will cook for you & pick ducks (the awful job of de-feathering them)." Yeah, men, marry a child and dominate her to the point where she has no mind of her own. Oh, and make sure you keep her barefoot and pregnant too! Utterly revolting. So, folks, do you support child sexual abuse? This geezer fraud is beyond tiresome. Do his fans realize that this clown has a Master's Degree & only grew that beard & hair for the show? He's playing a stereotypical southern hick. If I were a southern man I'd be beyond insulted.

George_Rock
George_Rock

@catbyte08 

You are a liar.  He does not support child sexual abuse.  You have bad will, and you aren't motivated by truth or morals.  You're just motivated by hatred for a man who expresses his moral beliefs and stands up for decency.  


Your hypocrisy and dishonesty are astounding.  You have no business talking about "heinous" beliefs when you knowingly support filth and perversion (homosexuality).  BTW a woman is physically (though not emotionally) mature by the age of around 15 or 16.  No, I am not advocating marrying at that age, but his viewpoint wasn't unreasonable either.  


Face it:  your opinions are worthless junk. 



catbyte08
catbyte08

@George_RockNo, I am not a liar. Do you really think that a 15 or 16 year old will wait until they are 18 to have sex or that their husband would allow them to wait? Your hero Robinson is no better than Warren Jeffs who is in prison for life for doing what your pal is advocating. Congrats! Your level of delusion is astounding. WTF do you mean by your statement that a girl is "physically" mature at 15 but you don't advocate them marrying at that age? You people don't even try to make any kind of sense anymore, do you? And that is EXACTLY what he was saying--girls should marry at 15-16 before they develop a mind of their own. It's despicable and you are despicable to defend such caveman thinking.

moongirl1971
moongirl1971

@catbyte08 God's instructions to husbands is not to dominate them. God never said that women are less important than men. We are equal, we just have different roles. Husbands are actually commanded to love their wives like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. That to me is a pretty tall order. Also, I don't think Phil meant every man should marry a 15 or 16 year old...that is when he met and married Kay.

George_Rock
George_Rock

@catbyte08 

Some girls at 15 are in fact physically mature, i.e. they have fully developed bodies at that age.  Mentaily or emotionally, they are not mature.  They are too young and haven't had enough life experience.  That's why I don't advise or recommend men marrying girls who are at that age.   But some of them might still make good wives anyway.  So Phil may actually have a point.  I myself would err on the side of caution and wait a few more years at least.  


BTW a long time ago, it was common for boys at 15 to learn a trade or craft, and make a living.  Girls at 15 started to do the women's work at home. And both were marrying at that age too, so Phil's idea wasn't exactly off the wall. I really have no idea why you're so bent out of shape about a husband and wife consummating their marriage.  

chitownbakerz
chitownbakerz

Finally, someone who stood up and said what so many of us "regular" Americans have been thinking since this all began! If anyone actually needs an advocate to get the media's attention these days it seems like it might be the calm, rational, open-minded Americans. When was the last time one of them got any air time?

George_Rock
George_Rock

@mantisdragon91 

Regardless, you staunchly defend filth and perversion, even when you know it's wrong.  That is bad will.  


You have a spiritual disorder.   You have to repent of your perversion and convert to the traditional Catholic faith to be saved.  

George_Rock
George_Rock

@catbyte08

You are the one cherry picking to mirror your own evil in defending filth and perversion. Homosexuality is filth and perversion.  You cannot normalize what is by definition abnormal.  You don't deny that fact because you can't.  So all you can do is demonize Christians, and destroy all norms and standards, so that there's no such thing as normal.  You will fail. 


You have bad will, and you too have to convert to the traditional Catholic faith to be saved.  You need to do it now.  


catbyte08
catbyte08

@George_Rock@mantisdragon91Oh, please. Do you also advocate imposing the death penalty on people who work on the Sabbath? Who eat shellfish? Do you sell your daughters into slavery? Those are also in the Bible, so if you don't follow those "rules" too then you are cherry picking it to mirror your own prejudices.

Diogenes
Diogenes

How is he denigrating Muslims and Chinese? It isn't obvious from this clip. He is a fundamentalist. He sounds as if he is challenging non-believers. That's his right as an American. It's your right not to listen or to disagree. Nobody puts a gun to our heads and says "you must (or must not) watch Duck Dynasty.". It's laughable. First time I watched the show was after all the hoopla. Great promo.

mmklegacy
mmklegacy

@catbyte08 Please don't listen to George Rock. Jesus would never talk to anyone like he does. I do believe that homosexuality is not God's intended plan. There is something wrong with all of us, we are all sick. That's why we need Jesus. Accepting our disease and living in it is not the solution. Lying, not loving your neighbor (George_Rock), any sexual sin: these are all evidence of our disease and any bible believing person should agree. If you don't believe the Bible then I do not judge you, the Bible says its God's responsibility to judge those outside the church.