Muck Dynasty

It’s no surprise that white trash patriarch Phil Robertson (he calls himself white trash, people; don’t blame me), of A&E’s popular (reportedly 14 million bleeping people watch the show each week) Duck Dynasty family, has revealed himself to be breathtakingly ignorant about gays and about black history. After all, it’s not all that uncommon for religious zealots to hate the gay and to think blacks were as happy as larks picking cotton for The Man, uh, The White Man.

And it’s not a bit surprising that so many conservatives, like the cartoonish Sarah Palin, have openly rushed to his side to offer their support of his bigotry and ignorance. In fact, that kind of bigotry and ignorance thrives in the GOP. Bigotry and ignorance is the life blood of the party these days.

But I was surprised that someone I know (locally) to be a staunch Democrat rushed to the defense of the white trash patriarch (again, don’t blame me for phrasing it that way; I’m just honoring his own description). Why, you might ask, would a fiercely partisan Democrat be so eager to endorse the bigotry and ignorance of Mr. Robertson? Why would he be so eager to post this picture on Facebook:

I’ll let him tell you:

I love the way the man speaks openly about his love for Jesus.

Yep. It turns out that loving Jesus, or more accurately, saying publicly you love Jesus, covers a multitude of sins, including, presumably, the sin of bigotry and, in the case of Phil Robertson, the sin of ignorance—the man has a Master’s degree in (I’m gasping for air here) education, for Allah’s sake. There is no way you can go through that much schooling and not know at least a little science about sexuality and a little history about Jim Crow and the oppression of black people. And as many have pointed out, the man is old enough to have lived through some of the horrendous events in the South, when blacks were suffering and dying at the hands of white racists, but who, according to Phil Robertson, were “singing and happy” the whole time.

But forget Phil Robertson. Forget the forgettable Duck Dynasty. We have a real problem in this country when prominent members of a major political party essentially endorse bigotry and ignorance—yes, I’ve used those terms a lot and I ain’t finished—like they were endorsing apple pie and Chevrolet. And there is an even bigger problem when just because a man says publicly that he loves Jesus, all is forgiven, or, worse, accepted. We have, thankfully, got past the point where white Jesus-lovers can publicly persecute black Jesus-lovers in America. But we have a long way to go before Jesus-lovers of every color will stop persecuting Jesus-loving and non-Jesus-loving  gay people. And that is where I want to part ways with a person I think is one of the smartest guys, one of the most astute liberals, on television, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.

On his Thursday show, discussing Phil Robertson’s bigotry and ignorance, Chris Hayes condemned Robertson’s remarks but said he agreed with those, like Sarah Palin, who object to A&E suspending the bigot from his popular cable TV show. Because Robertson represents a large segment of the population, the argument goes, he should be able to spout his nonsense with impunity because such nonsense is not considered nonsense among people who find the Robertsons’ entertaining and—yikes!—inspiring.

Bulldook. A&E certainly has the right to keep employing Mr. Robertson and his Republican-loving family and to keep producing their unreal reality show. No one disputes that. But apparently A&E believes it has at least some civic responsibility not to promote extremism, particularly extremism based on such atomic bigotry and ignorance. And the network is right not to do so. The A&E executives ought to be applauded, especially by liberals, for their action instead of condemned for it. There is no First Amendment case here. No one has an unfettered right to speak, whether it be foolishness or non-foolishness, on a TV network.

Imagine if Phil Robertson, thought, and said so out loud, that during WWII, as far as he knew, Jews were really happy and never sang the blues. “Holocuast? I never saw no stinkin’ Holocaust!”  Imagine if one of the Duck Dynasty cast members thought, and said so out loud, that homosexuality will lead to human beings banging beasts! Wait! We don’t have to imagine it. Ol’ Phil actually said it:

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.

I’m worried about this country. I’m worried about it not because Phil Robertson is a dangerous man. He isn’t. He’s just someone to be pitied, in terms of his social IQ. I’m worried about the country because it is still pregnant with the kind of bigotry and ignorance that Phil Robertson represents. And as we get deeper into the 21st-century, we can’t afford to indulge, or entertain ourselves with, such nonsense. Religion is one thing. Bigotry and ignorance (last time) is another. And it is about time people learn the difference, even if it means there may be no more Duck Dynasty.

8 Comments

  1. King Beauregard

     /  December 20, 2013

    Here’s why I consider this a GOOD turn of events. What we are seeing now is bigotry that was once so prevalent it never needed to mount a defense for itself; it went unquestioned except from quarters that were largely marginalized. Well, what we are seeing now is bigotry pressed to a position where it has to defend itself, and whatever short-term victories it achieves, it’s losing all the major battles. In particular it’s losing the battle of the youth, who will live long past Phil Robertson and wonder how the hell his sort of person could ever have existed without committing suicide out of shame. But even flash-in-the-pan side battles, like this one with Chris Hayes, will almost certainly result in a carefully-worded apology from Chris, because people are sick of the phony appeals to the First Amendment to justify bigotry. It’s not a new tactic and it doesn’t become any more convincing with repetition.

    So we’re in a period where of intense friction as battle after battle occurs in rapid succession. I say, good! It’s like we’ve flipped over a rock and now we can see all the worms and maggots that had been living underneath, all fleeing for the safety of the shadows again. Yeah it’s an unpleasant sight, but if it helps us get rid of them once and for all, good.

    I never tire of pointing out that 45% of Republicans had a favorable opinion of George Zimmerman back in July; no other criterion — not even race — tracks better with Zimmerman support than being a Republican.

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  2. ansonburlingame

     /  December 20, 2013

    I only focus and comment on one term used above, a new one as far as I know. It is “social IQ”.

    What exactly is that term you used, Duane. Is it one popping up in your head or is it something measurable and can be accurately analyzed. My guess it is the mental ablity for a person to promote social equality in all its various forms and permutations.

    After all, I learned for a short time in college a few months ago that sociology is a “science” to promote social equality in all its various forms. Based on the implications above, I suspect you feel that if a person has an IQ (as traditionally measured) that is high off the charts, but has a low “social IQ” , then such people deserve ………???

    On the other hand, what to do about the person with a “real IQ” at the level of about 80 but a social IQ that is off the charts, high. What should we do with those people? Pay them a fortune to promote social equality?

    I know many millionaries with an “athletic IQ” in say basketball, that are off the charts high. In terms of improving the condition of life of Americans are they worth all that money? I wonder how they would “manage a widget factory”, one paying high wages as well?

    Want to make a dent in the wealth of the top 10%, well how about starting with professional athletes, those greedy capitalists!!!

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  December 20, 2013

      Way to zoom right in on the point of the article, Anson.

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  3. Bbob

     /  December 20, 2013

    I believe things are unfolding as they should. Phil Robertson exercised his right to freedom of speech. Now he is facing the consequences.

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  December 21, 2013

    OK, King, more to the point of the blog, the Duck’s. I have now done some research and discussed their views with my very liberal wife. She LIKES them!!!

    I hasten to add she thinks their comments offered on blacks and gays are dead wrong, as reported by Duane. But she added their comments following the father being “fired” from the show as well and NOT reported by Duane. Take the whole picture of that family and one comes away with a far different critique than the very focused view of Duane, a focus on their bigoted faith if you will.

    Duane failed to mention that the ole man and his wife grew up and started a family in the 60’s. He was an admitted BUM of the worst sort, addicted to drugs and alcohol, red necked in all views on race, sexuality, etc., a wife beater, woman are only useful for one thing, etc. type of man and his kids were living in such a family environment as well.

    THEN he changed. He cleaned himself up, his wife returned home and the whole family reoriented themselves to a life of faith in Christ. They found a way to sell their “duck calls” and created a very wealthy company, the CEO of which is now one of the sons. As Dad said recently, “there is nothing worse than red necks with money!!!”. But that money has gone to great use as well and their show pays the family about $200K per show today. At least ONE of those 14 million viewers, my wife, is NOT a red neck as well.

    Dad (and the kids and mom and an uncle) does not hate gays or blacks. He just disagrees with the life style of gays as “non-Christian”. For blacks, he likes them by and large and has worked with blacks all his life, “howing cotton, etc. for years on end until he made some money. He feels that God will judge them (gays) later on and he does not intend to judge them himself. And he bares no grudge against “singing blacks” in any way it seems.

    Janet, again a very liberal woman, LIKES the show. She thinks it is funny. She also sees a family that “came out of a swamp” and has joined society in a productive manner, promoting many “good values” based on faith, “iron age theology” as Duane calls it.

    I have not seen the show. But Janet has watched many of them and again, LIKES the show.
    She hates bigots as much as anyone as well. But she sees in that family far more than just bigotry. In fact she sees little bigotry, today, because their faith does not allow such. They simply choose to not live as homosexuals or associate with such people. But condemn them, try to punish them, not according to Janet and what the “ole man” has said since his firing.

    Based on listening to an intelligent woman, a liberal woman, a kind and caring woman that “likes the Ducks”, I sense there is far more to that family than presented above in another rant from Duane against people of faith.

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  December 21, 2013

      Yes yes, the old “it’s not bigotry, it’s just faith” dodge. When Phil starts taking to heart Christ’s instruction to give away all one owns, I’ll believe that religion motivates Phil’s opinions rather than just being the excuse for them.

      As for the part about “pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues,” perhaps you are so awash in conservatism that you didn’t even notice it, but there Phil goes linking blacks to welfare. And perhaps Phil was genuinely lucky enough to live in a place where there was comity between all races; but even if that’s the case, he lived through the Civil Rights Era, he lived through Jim Crow, he would have to be deliberate in his ignorance to not grasp that blacks had very legitimate grievances.

      I’m glad Janet is enamored of these guys, but let’s be realistic, we already know she has a blind spot where right-wing crankdom is concerned.

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    • First, let me start with what you said at the end:

      Based on listening to an intelligent woman, a liberal woman, a kind and caring woman that “likes the Ducks”, I sense there is far more to that family than presented above in another rant from Duane against people of faith.

      It’s fine with me that your wife likes Duck Dynasty. Heck, reportedly President Obama likes it, too, a fact that may send the show’s ratings into the toilet when producers at Fox “News” find out Obama is a fan and begin producing segments about how A&E and Obama conspired to create Duck Dynasty in order to embarrass evangelical Christians, rid the country of Christmas, and usher in an Islamic caliphate.

      But what I really want to address is that last thing you said, about me ranting “against people of faith.” Nonsense. I know that people who don’t track (or read) carefully all of my writings about fundamentalist religion (including both Christianity and Islam, by the way), think that I am at war with people of faith. I am not. I would defy you, or anyone else, to find anything I’ve written that disparages people of faith for simply being people of faith. I don’t disparage such people. As far as you know, I may be one of them myself, even though I gave up evangelical fanaticism long ago. And for the record, there are plenty of liberal Democrats who call themselves people of faith. Some even call themselves evangelicals.

      What I do disparage, and disparage very loudly, is the adoption of the I-am-certain-because-God-said-so bigotry and ignorance of ancient tribes of religious zealots (and their literal and spiritual descendants), or the use of I-am-certain-because-God-said-so religious zealotry as a cover for the bigotry and ignorance that certain people hold independently of their faith. In short, I am not opposed to religious faith, I am opposed to the kind of religious faith that embraces or protects, as a badge of honor, bigotry and ignorance.

      As for your defense of the Robertson patriarch and his family—you said that you sensed “there is far more to that family” than was presented in my piece—I’m afraid you didn’t quite get what I was getting at. The focus of my piece was not the moral status of the white-trash patriarch (again, he described himself that way; why?) or his family (described on their website as “redneck royalty”; again, why?). Neither you nor I know what kind of people they are in real life (that show is not their real life, by the way; in our real lives we don’t have TV cameras following us around like flies; at least I don’t). You said the patriarch “does not hate gays or blacks.” Who said he did? I certainly didn’t. What I did say was this:

      I’m worried about this country. I’m worried about it not because Phil Robertson is a dangerous man. He isn’t. He’s just someone to be pitied, in terms of his social IQ. I’m worried about the country because it is still pregnant with the kind of bigotry and ignorance that Phil Robertson represents.

      You see? The point was not his personal morality, one way or the other, but his embrace and promotion of bigotry and ignorance. You asked in another comment why I used the term “social IQ” and what I meant when I said the man should be pitied because of his. Let me explain. Like the great Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist of great renown, I believe there is such a thing as “interpersonal intelligence.” Here is a handy definition:

      Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand other people: what motivates them, how they work, how to work cooperatively with them.

      The kind of falsely-certain religious fundamentalism that Phil Robertson represents and celebrates, the kind that allows him to compare gay sex to bestiality, the kind that blinds him to the realities of African-American life in the Jim Crow South, is the dangerous thing, not Phil Robertson himself. Religious fundamentalism, whether it be Jewish, Christian, or Muslim (and there are additional examples) retards people’s ability to understand others and what motivates them. It makes it very hard to make any social progress, in terms of getting past “gays are sinners”—who are headed for hell—and past “blacks were happier”—before all that “welfare” stuff came around. Religious fundamentalism is an impediment to increasing one’s social IQ, an enemy of one’s ability to understand and thus to “work cooperatively” with others. It is an enemy, therefore, of social progress.

      In a country with more than 317 million folks, in a world with more than 7 billion people, with gays, straights, and everything in between, with blacks, whites, and every shade in between, the last thing we can afford to do is embrace notions that make it not only more difficult to understand people who don’t act or look like us, but to make such folks pay a legal price for not acting or looking like us.

      Because of such notions, we once kept black people as slaves. Because of such notions, we still regard homosexuals as second-class citizens (or worse) in so many ways. These ideas, and the fundamentalist nonsense that may spawn them or give them social cover, aren’t just silly notions in the head of one man who got rich making duck calls and who now entertains people with the not-so-real exploits of his Duck Commander family. These ideas represent something we need to address as a society, something that needs more discussion not less, something that ultimately needs to disappear, if we want to continue to advance as an inclusive and equitable civilization.

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  5. ansonburlingame

     /  December 22, 2013

    A good reply, Duane, and thank you. We are not really all that far apart on the matter of how “faith” should dictate government actions. “Mr. Duck” would probably have voted for Tood Akin! I sure disagree with such actions at the polls.

    But, what I offered, based primarily on what my wife told me about her information gained on the “The Ducks”, was a suggestion to take a broader view of the man and the family. Based on what she told me as well as a lengthy artilce she found online, there is far more to that man than some comments on gays and blacks.

    What I focused on in that “story”, was the man’s (and thus his family’s) ability to improve, drastically, his own “human condition”. If nothing else he has RECOVERED from a life of debauchery of the ugliest sort. He “came out of a swamp” at least to some degree, a life of addiction, brutality, “red neckedness”, whatever you want to call it. No, he did not come all the way out of that swamp in terms of sexuality or racial politically correct views. But from what I have found so far, he is an helluva lot better position in his own life and his contributions to society now, than compared to where he was in the 60’s

    In my program we call it “progress not perfection” and give great credit to such progress which is very difficult to achieve in many cases. Think of it as a glass half full or empty if you like. I also note that you have a follow-on blog on the “Ducks”. I’ll read it and may well just reference this comment unless you raise further issues on the matter.

    Anson

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