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Are statements by Robertson truly homophobic?

Published on -12/31/2013, 8:20 AM

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When I read Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson made some horrible "homophobic" and "racist" comments for which liberals and gay activists were demanding the entertainment program be ripped from the flat screens of its 14 million fans, I was compelled to read the actual interview in GQ Magazine.

It seems Phil is being crucified for good reason: He said he personally believes homosexuality is a sin, and he loves everyone whether they're gay, drunk or even terrorists.

How dare he.

Some folks think this is an issue of "free speech." It isn't. Our constitutional protection of free speech protects citizens from persecution by the government for speaking out. It does not protect citizens from persecution by fellow citizens for saying something that is not fashionable. That's covered by libel and slander laws.

Let's take a breath and consider whether the popular, bearded duck hunter's statements are truly homophobic; "fearful of homosexuals and/or homosexuality" and deserving banishment.

He "personally" prefers experiencing his wife's anatomy to that of a man's. He's making assumptions here, but it doesn't sound like being the fearful, hateful homophobe described in Salon, Huffington Post and other left-of-center sites.

He told a GQ Magazine writer he's a born-again "bible thumping" Christian following a youthful life of booze, drugs and violence. He believes homosexuality is a sin. Oh, and he still has love in his heart for gays. Outrageous.

For this, he should be tossed from the desirable urban broadcast centers of our country and forever banished to some desolate, mosquito-infested no-man's land like, say, Louisiana?

Yes. Unless you profess Brokeback love for your fellows in the duck blind, your opinions are not allowed in the medium of popular culture and entertainment.

It sounds like he wouldn't mind it all coming to an end. As he told writer Drew Magary, "Let's face it," he says. "Three, four, five years, we're out of here. You know what I'm saying? It's a TV show. This thing ain't gonna last forever. No way."

"Robertson says homosexuality is like bestiality."

Not really, unless you think including gay sex, sleeping around with women and bestiality on a list answering the question, "What do you think is sinful?" is a direct comparison. It's a list.

"Phil's racist comments."

Phil recalls life experiences growing up dirt poor as "white trash," working in the fields. Magary gets him to talk about working alongside black people and Phil says, "I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field. ... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' -- not a word! Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."

Just because one man's experience does not add to the well-known and documented abuses of impoverished blacks by landowners, that should not be cause for removing him from the public view.

There are millions more black, Chinese, Irish, Italians, Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc., etc., in this country who can share compelling life and family experiences reminding us of the repugnant practices of racism and bigotry. Phil's story might be better used as counterpoint by such fellow Americans rather than branding him "racist" for sharing his own life experience.

This limited life experience also doesn't play well with those who demand every such story be rewritten to support more entitlements and federal welfare.

"Racist" Phil's son, Willie, and his wife also have adopted a mixed race boy whom Phil loves. Perhaps liberals believe this is just a "cover" for their racism.

While you and I consider this more thoughtfully, you can expect Salon, HuffPo and writers of that ilk to continue casting stones at the Robertsons -- and it won't much matter to either side.

It's not as though they're constantly running into the Robertsons at the local Walmart.

Rick Jensen is Delaware's award-winning conservative radio talk show host.

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