A number of things emerged from this controversy. First, freedom of speech applies to the public forum, not the employment venue. Second, political correctness expects public statements to agree with the desired point of view. Third, people can no longer disagree in a civil manner; either one’s chosen lifestyle is fully embraced or you are expressing outright hatred. Remember Paula Deen?
Faced with hundreds of thousands of protests and calls for boycotts, A&E weaseled its way out of the crisis by taking Robertson’s vow he would “never incite or encourage hate” as an unapologetic apology and reinstating him for future filming.
It was the only practical course available, given the family’s veiled threat to walk, contractual obligations notwithstanding. Cancellation of the show would cost the network its most popular program. And the Robertsons certainly don’t need the money.
So the next time the family sits down on camera to a duck dinner, Phil Robertson will be asking the blessing as usual. And the folks at A&E will be devouring a large helping of crow.
Jim Bailey’s column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.