You can't help but see it when you read the Robertsons family members books - whether Miss Kay, Phil, Uncle Si or Willie is behind the pen a deep and abiding faith resonates from every chapter - a faith that seems to have comforted and strengthened them through good times and bad.
Thus it pains me to read the recent GQ article featuring Phil Robertson and spotlighting his rather...harsh...
“It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man’s anus," Robertson says in the January issue of the men's magazine. "That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
“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,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
views on those of us in the LGBT community, comparing us to terrorists and worse.
While balanced by the language in the third quote, the viewpoint is far from comforting to someone who has had friends bashed and has a more than passing familiarity with the history of the LGBT community - and is enough to fire up memories of Fred Phelps and his vile band.
Since the GQ story broke A&E Networks placed Robertson on "indefinite suspension" and many conservative and conservative-christian commenters have decried the action as the response of a "gay mafia," "viewpoint discrimination" and violation of Robertsons right to free speech.
Robertson also made the following public statement after the article impacted the rotary oscillator:
"My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together," he said. "However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other."
To those decrying how horribly and unfairly Robertson is being mistreated? Poppycock.
First, to properly violate freedom of speech as state and federal constitutions define it - you need to be a governmental body or agent. There is absolutely no guarantee that employers, printers, broadcasters, critics or the general populace will not find your comments so execrable that they take action to either not hear them or distance themselves from them.
You have a right to say (broadly) what you will without getting sent to jail for it. You do not have the right not to be fired, evicted, harshly criticized, repudiated, ridiculed or generally told to take a flying leap. If the conservative movement is supposed to be the home of logic and fact - fundamental constitutional literacy might be a good first step for those engaging in this particular rant.
An example on the left who also got substantially less than a warm welcome to his comments would be Alec Baldwin - though I find it easier to believe that Robertson, at least, has redeeming virtues.
As far as the whole "gay mafia" accusation - I would suggest that nothing that organized is in play. Instead, over the last forty years or so the LGBT community has shifted viewpoints from "won't you pretty please not kick us in the teeth" as our activist branch to a view better described as "we've had quite enough crap, thank you. You can stop NOW. And by the way - we're not going back."
Next, it's not viewpoint discrimination to speak out when you observe someone busily engaging (for whatever reason) in an attack upon your community.
Now, to move right along to the hyper-ventilating kids over at GLAAD. Let's be very clear. I am not excusing Robertsons comments - at best, they are deeply regrettable and his later statement released by A&E (which, to my ear, sounds distinctly un-Phil-like and a lot more "PR Specialist") does not make them magically go away.
But come on! GLAAD's statement "some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication" seems a little over the top - and if Robertson is ignorant about LGBT folks? Color me unsurprised. Let us consider the mans context before we hyperventilate.
Robertsons comments are deeply regrettable and demonstrate a deep ignorance of folks in the LGBT community and of that area of reality. He is not, however, trying to the best of my knowledge trying to inflict his judgement on the community or enact them into law.
So. A little balance might be called for here.
On the part of A&E, a public repudiation of Robertsons statement would likely have been enough. I tend towards the view that the "indefinite suspension," while well within the rights of A&E (hey, it's THEIR network, after all) might just be a bit over-enthusiastic for a first offense.
Conversely, this is (or was) an opportunity for GLAAD to educate rather than hyperventilate. I cannot say that I consider this their best-considered and wisest response to an incident - I'm actually rather disappointed.
As for Robertson? I continue to believe he is a good man with good intentions - capable of learning, but with blind spots, occasional misinformation, and like all of us - occasionally, just plain wrong.
What I've seen of him (admittedly in an artificial environment of the series and various PR appearances) he seems a rough-hewn and painfully honest sort - and in this case, suffering from a bad case of diplomacy fail.
I, not surprisingly, believe him in error in his comments and that those comments were needlessly hurtful. On the other hand, I'm not cheer-leading for a witch-hunt or looking for tar and feathers.
He's been publicly spanked. Let's move on.