The Duck Dynasty “controversy” is the hot button topic of the nation. To me it’s simple. Phil Robertson’s 1st amendment rights were not “violated” and to say so reflects a serious misunderstanding or worse blatant distortion of the constitution.
Let’s review: The gov’t did not arrest or restrict Robertson. The FCC didn’t fine him. He wasn’t prosecuted in a court of law for speaking his mind. What happened was an employer reacted to statements made in a public forum. This is fair since Phil is a public figure and A&E is a private company.
A&E paid (pays?) him handsomely to be in the public realm. It’s a choice to accept a job as a television personality. After his remarks, A&E made a business decision that his remarks could hurt their bottom line. Last I checked a cable network can’t restrict 1st amendment rights, they can only choose not to give that person a platform. When your in the public realm your subject to the free market. If your an athlete, television star, politician, musician ect. ect., your position hangs on public image. Those who support you and pay good money for a product have every right to choose not to support it based on your public persona. This has nothing to do with the 1st amendment.
It’s similar to the Gilberton issue. Yes, “Chief Kessler” has the right to make an ass out of himself on youtube. But the town, it’s residents and elected leaders have the right to not be represented by a clown. So they suspended him. They exercised their rights.
Time will tell if A&E made the right decision. In the end it may have been a bad decision, but it was their business decision to make. The government didn’t interfere with individuals deciding what they think is or is not offensive. The gov’t doesn’t decide who should be rewarded in the public realm. In this case viewers and sponsors do. The gov’t shouldn’t interfere with the market. If enough people were offended by Robertson’s remarks then A&E’s decision would prove correct. Only time will tell.
The 1st amendment protects us from the gov’t making laws that restrict free speech, the press and freedom of religion. A&E is a private company with the right to hire and fire. Robertsons ‘rights’ weren’t restricted by Gov’t. Today, this very second Phil still has the right to say whatever he wants.
The storm of reactions implicating some sort of 1st amendment issue represents a lack of understanding about what the constitution is and isn’t. It’s alarming when politicians take part. People like Sarah Palin choose words carefully to strategically fan fires for gain. It’s pandering. I’ve come to expect that from Palin but was disappointed when someone like Bobby Jindal jumped into the fray.
Someone nailed it in the comments in the Bacon’s rebellion post below… “How can you be an elected official who supports the Constitution and get it so seriously mixed up with free market businesses?”. To me that is scary. When we have issues where the constitution is slowly morphing (principles of federalism, the ACA, bottom up gov’t) we need Republicans who understand the document they claim to protect. When politicians choose to distort it and it’s principles for personal gain you hurt the Republican brand.
Other good reads on this topic:
Phil Robertson and A&E Fight Not About 1st Amendment, Expert Says