In Defense of Duck Dynasty

Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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54 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    I certainly agree on a few things. A and E knew what his views were but kept them out of the show like they apparently did, as you say, with seeing actual hunting. His views are largely of his generation and are much less common in those younger. Those views will fade to a degree in the next couple decades. The Duck’s will be just fine out of all of this, they are rich, popular and apparently Mr. Duck is now stumping for a R pol. There new season will draw huge numbers and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Duck’s new they were going to stock this controversy and were fine with that. Given how common some of his beliefs are in places i also have no problem with other people who don’t share those beliefs saying how they disagree. The beliefs he espoused have had a strongly negative effect on lots of people. The victims of those beliefs are going to have their say, loudly and publicly, now that they have become able to.Report

  2. Mrs. Likko says:

    Thank you for the back-story of the show and family. I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to figure out what people became so enamoured with. I still don’t get it, but I’m not a hunter and I typically disdain these so-called “reality” shows.Report

  3. greginak says:

    Oh i forgot to say regarding your first couple of paragraphs. My very first thought when i heard about this was sort of an Onion headline ” Oldish southern conservative man who loves to hunt aims to confirm every common stereotype about his kind of people: Hits target.”Report

  4. NewDealer says:

    I agree with Greg’s comments. I would also point out (and have done so before) that the whole bearded backwoods things is a kind of PR move and stunt itself. Phil Robertson has a Masters in Education from Louisiana State University. Pre-show pictures of the sons show them looking like Santa Barbara yuppies on the beach.

    Yes he is a product of his time and place but his time and place are rapidly becoming unacceptable and I don’t think it is wrong for people to find his views wrong and cruel. Josh Barro pointed this out at Business Insider and Slate. There are two Americas and in one you can say the most horrible things about homosexuals (“they’re full of murder, envy, strife, and hatred.”, blame Pearl Harbor on the Japanese lacking Jesus, and think blacks were better off before the Civil Rights Movement. This America will have people comparing you to Rosa Parks:

    Verbatim quote:

    “In December 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people, and in December 2013, Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians. What Parks did was courageous. What Mr. Robertson did was courageous too.”

    And in the other America all these things are wrong, rude, offensive, and immoral.Report

  5. Michael Cain says:

    There is always a difficult transition from employer to employee WRT public statements. As the owner of Duck Commander, Phil can say whatever he pleases. As an employee of A&E, not so much (and remain an employee). In the course of my lengthy corporate career, it was always understood that if I was speaking in the role of “Michael Cain, USWest systems analyst”, then there were a lot of things that were strictly off limits. If a question crossed certain lines, I was expected to just say, “I can’t talk about that.” And if I didn’t, it was potentially a fire-able offense.

    OTOH, part of the job of a good interviewer for a piece like GQ wanted to run is to get people to cross those lines.Report

  6. Shazbot9 says:

    “are completely in line with Robertson’s faith and I do not believe they come from a place of malice.”

    I want point out that it is possible that his claims come from his faith AND a place of malice. It isn’t necessarily either his faith or malice, where one excludes the other.

    Moreover, his claims being rooted in religion and tradition are no more a defense of his claims than saying the fact that slavery was rooted in tradition and religion is a defense of slave owners.

    And yes, obviously slavery was orders of magnitude worse.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Shazbot9 says:

      plus oneReport

    • Burt Likko in reply to Shazbot9 says:

      Bear in mind though that for lots of folks, the malice is a) invisible to themselves, cloaked behind the noble mantle of religion as well as inescapable human nature, and b) sublimated into privilege and the cultural status quo. They don’t feel like they’re being malicious; they would say they are being descriptive and not normative, and that they are personally “live and let live” sort of tolerant folks. Shining a light on the error of such thinking is going to produce genuine surprise as well as defensive pushback.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Burt Likko says:

        This is a good point and is true for all sorts of things especially the sublimated into privilege and the cultural status quo bit.

        People often have a very narrow definition of malice and what it means to discriminate.Report

      • greginak in reply to Burt Likko says:

        +1 Burt. I think if someones background is in an oft persecuted minority group, when you hear a member of a large powerful group say ” love; God; those minorities are dangerous Others; love; God; wouldn’t it be great if we were all the same; God;” that scans quite a bit differently to some than it does to the majority. To me there is a tiny voice saying, “Yeah we’ve heard that song before and it ended in tragedy, well at least for the minority.Report

  7. Mike Schilling says:

    It seems that Real Phil is instead being suspended for opening his mouth to GQ and fussing with the carefully maintained image of Show Phil by telling people what he actually thinks

    For which A&E has every right to fire him. The kind-of-amusing thing to me is that if the Ducks’ job were being outsourced, the same pundits that are defending them now would be applauding the wonders of creative destruction, but they consider it an outrage that Phil Duck is being fired for cause.Report

  8. Mike Schilling says:

    What the hell do you expect when you hire someone named P. Robertson?Report

  9. Tod Kelly says:

    I think if I disagree with you anywhere, Mike, it’s right here:

    “The only thing I will say about these comments specifically is that the homosexual remarks, while not an opinion I share, are completely in line with Robertson’s faith and I do not believe they come from a place of malice.”

    First off, I should say that I get that times are changing, and that this makes it difficult for some. For example, I never thought of Paula Deen as being a bad person for what she said; I just thought her degree of cluelessness was a little bizarre in 2013. And I really do believe that you can be a certain type of Christian, believe that homosexuality is wrong, and come from a place that lacks malice.

    But I confess it’s hard for me to parse this out…

    “They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”

    … and not find a healthy dose of very deliberate malice.

    We have people here at OT who have different thoughts about gay people than I do (even contributors), and I certainly never have a sense that their view comes from a place of ill will. But the thing is, I can’t imagine any of them saying anything remotely like the things Robertson says.

    Whenever we talk about people who are different than ourselves, be they people of a different gender, race, sexual orientation, etc., there’s always this line that, once it’s crossed, suddenly isn’t just folks being folks any longer. I have to say, I think Phil Robertson steps over that line with a lot of room to spare.Report

    • Shazbot9 in reply to Tod Kelly says:


      The “He’s just a nice old guy who is a product of his times” is not a valid defense against this kind of incendiary and vile rhetoric.

      I’m tempted to say that there is a real analogy between the banality of evil and the banality of racism, but that is a longer post.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      If the remarks that Tod quoted are “completely in line with Robertson’s faith”, than Robertson’s faith is one I find appalling.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      This raises the question if whether these remarks are with malice or not is a distinction without a difference.

      You are right that times are changing and people grew up in different times and eras and might not be ready for it. But if two people are opposed to civil rights for minorities or gay marriage, does it matter whether they have malice in their heart or not? I suppose you can argue that people without malice can have their minds changed but what if they cannot?
      What if they are still willing to fight tooth and nail against gay marriage because of their views even though the world is rapidly saying the old rules and beliefs are wrong and were wrong and need to be changed? Is the answer that we just treat the left-behind with pity?Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      He also said:

      “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. 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.

      Tell me where in the bible does it say that men should find vaginas desirable? The biblical condemnation of homosexuality is an aspect of its broader condemnation of lust. That Robertson condemns homosexuality as a sin by celebrating heterosexual desire rather misses the point.

      When we look back at the preachers who used the bible to defend slavery and the subjugation of non-European peoples, we rightly recognize that they were imposing their own twisted moral structure on the biblical text, rather than drawing guidance from their religious beliefs. Likewise, modern condemnations of homosexuality are not based in biblical condemnations of homosexuality–they are the product of those looking to justify an existing belief structure.Report

      • Rod in reply to Alan Scott says:

        And perhaps another problem, or perhaps the underlying problem with this attitude, is that he really views a woman as a walking support system for a vagina.

        To reduce love and sex to lusting after particular body parts shows an incredible shallowness regardless of orientation.

        Also, note to Phil: Not all gay men are into anal sex. True fact.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Tod – I was responding primarily due to what I have read about the GQ interview. The remarks you quoted were new to me. You’re right that this crosses a line.Report

      • Will H. in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        The first time I saw it too.
        The claims seem rather odd to me. Murder? Envy? Etc.?
        It makes me wonder if he wasn’t making generalizations that go far beyond gays.
        Not the ordinary sort of thing I would expect to hear from persons opposed to homosexuality in specific on the basis of specific articles of faith.

        Other than that, I think the whole kerfluffle smacks of the “King Diamond is a Satanist” trope.
        When King Diamond invites me to go to church with him, I’ll keep that in mind.
        Until then, I’m not looking for King Diamond to give me any kind of spiritual guidance.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      “They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”

      I find it absolutely appalling that someone would say something like that about gay people. That sort of rhetoric should be reserved for CEOs and investment bankers.Report

      • Russell M in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        well as far as i remember no gay people having reckless wild gambling sex has ever crashed the worlds economy. banks and investors treating housing as a gambling market did. so yeah, you’re almost right.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        If you can rationalize your bigotry, it’s okay!Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:


        You realize it is one thing to say, “The bankers who caused the recession were selfish jerks,” and another to say, “All bankers are selfish jerks”, right? Like, you’re just playing dumb, right? You don’t think those are one in the same, right?

        Because many people said the former. Far, far fewer send the former and they tended to be pretty radical. And no where that I saw did they suggest that all bankers were full of murder.

        Yet what Robertson said was that all gays were full of murder and envy and strife and hatred. Not the Jeffrey Dahmers of the world — a gay man who indeed was full of murder and hatred — but all gays. Gays like our own Russell Saunders and North.

        tl;dr: Cut the bullshit. Criticism of a specific set of professionals who caused real world harm to people is not the same as classifying an entire subsection of the population of evil because of who and how they love.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Yes, I understand the distinction. I just think you give Russell too much credit. If you had responded to my original comment as Russell did, I would have assumed the former interpretation. Given Russell’s history here, though, he strikes me as exactly the sort of person I had in mind with my original comment, and given the source, his comment looks an awful lot like “I’ll have you know that some of my best friends are bankers!”

        Robertson could rationalize his bigotry by pointing to the HIV epidemic. Which, come to think of it, is actually not such a bad analogy: In both cases people engaged in behavior that seemed safe at the time based on limited historical data but which had catastrophic results when the future turned out to be radically different from the past.

        But he’s not saying that some gay people behaved irresponsibly and ended up hurting a lot of innocent bystanders. He’s saying that gay people are evil. OWS-style rhetoric sounds a lot more like the latter than the former to me.Report

      • @brandon-berg
        Because in terms of DC political heft, GLAAD and the NAACP are analogous to the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable? And because with a (top 350 firms) CEO to worker compensation ratio going from 20:1 (in the 1970’s) to in excess of 200:1 (in the 2000s)*, CEOs have done really poorly over the past four decades?

        Repeatedly receiving invitations to White House summits and numerous trade missions with Commerce secretaries, those poor put upon CEOs. How will American politics mistreat them next? What further indignities will these heroes of capitalism be subjected to?! And how dare OWS critique – critique! – investment banker and CEO behavior.

        * “Congrats, CEOs! You’re making 273 times the pay of the average worker.”

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Even worse than the War on Christmas is the War on Malefactors of Great Wealth.Report

  10. Jesse Ewiak says:

    It’s really the Stepin Fetchit view of the Jim Crow South that bothers me far more than the gay statements. Because it’s views like that which lead to entire conservative stories like Obamaphones, welfare queens, and so on. That, oh, our black neighbors were fine until the evil liberal government came in and ruined things.Report

    • Michelle in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      I too find Phil’s adherence to the myth of the happy Jim Crow Negro to be far more perplexing than his opinions about gay people, which strike me as part standard evangelical Christianity and part older male homophobia–not attractive but not surprising. However, Phil wasn’t that old when the Civil Rights movement hit, and he’s certainly educated enough to know that whatever masks black people might have put on for white folks, they were clearly oppressed and none too happy about it. Dreher has brought up on his site that Phil’s views are typical of a lot of older white Southerners who grew up during the era of segregation, but it seems to me that there has to be a whole lot of willful ignorance going on to square their romanticism with the reality of Jim Crow.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Michelle says:

        I think the gay issue is getting more attention for two reasons: A) GLAAD’s involvement (which may or may not have actually had an impact on A&E’s decision) made it front and center and B) I think that part was more obviously offensive to a lot of people. I know many people who would read his comments on blacks in the south during segregation and not immediately recognize the ugliness of them in the same way they would the comments regarding homosexuality.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Michelle says:

        Plus the religion factor… somehow wrapping ugly ideas with the religious flag is supposed to make them more acceptable. I don’t think his defenders are fighting the race battle because they know it’s largely a lost one; but they can claim ground on the gay issue because of religion.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Michelle says:

        Kazzy: the NAACP jumped on this at the same time that GLAAD did, though.

        I think the reason we’re only hearing about the gay-related comments in most media is that most of the initial coverage was driven by Robertson’s defenders–and they see his remarks on homosexuality as more defensible.Report

  11. Rod says:

    Mike, you really don’t need to defend Phil Robertson to defend hunting or the outdoor lifestyle. While I’m not a hunter I would have been hard-pressed to ride in a pickup as a youth that didn’t have a couple shotgun shells rattling around in it. Some of my best friends yadda yadda.

    I gotta tell ya though, I’m more than a little tired of faith being used as a fig leaf to cover and excuse bigotry. As an atheist, my beliefs and opinions, for better or worse, are owned entirely by me. I can’t pawn off responsibility on some sky spook or ancient fairy tale, and you’re (speaking generically here) not getting a pass from me on account of your superstitions.

    I also am really impressed by the selective nature of that sort of thing. You noted:

    In those early days Phil was able to be much more outspoken about his faith. I distinctly remember one video where they finished killing a bunch of ducks and then Phil told them to pack it up because they had to get to church.

    I believe it’s only fair to point out that while his Savior never once mentioned homosexuality, he very explicitly commanded to “Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.” You could argue over whether recreational hunting breaks that directive (pretty sure it does) but he was filming a video as part of his business at the time, which sure as hell is over the line.Report

  12. North says:

    At this point I’m not entirely convinced that A&E and whatever other powers that be that were involved with the show didn’t simply let this whole thing happen on purpose to roar up some controversy and get a ton of free marketing for their cash cow.

    Accordingly I’m relegating Duck Dynasty in my mind back to being those weird fat bearded dudes I occasionally flip past on the TV when I’m channel surfing.Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to North says:

      Yeah, but it’s free marketing for a show they now can’t sell ad time for. That’s not really helpful from a business standpoint.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Alan Scott says:

        A&E’s reaction suggests to me that this was in no way intentional. They seemed entirely unprepared for it all.

        I don’t think it’s true that they can’t sell ad time for it now, though. From what I’ve read, the advertisers haven’t really been backing out.Report

  13. ScarletNumbers says:

    It is worth noting that the author of the GQ article dropped out of the University of Michigan in shame after his roommate’s girlfriend walked in on him masturbating while watching The Price is Right.Report