Duck Dynasty and Free Speech

What would Phil call the conundrum that I experience now after reading the article in GQ that got him into trouble and, subsequently, watching six episodes of Duck Dynasty? Would he use the same phrase I do, that I am “between a rock and a hard place”?

Competing principles are at play, and that is always a tough one. I hate what he says but defend the principles of free speech. Is ignorance, and I have no evidence that Phil’s ignorance is willful, a mitigating factor?

When a person lives in a bubble, and West Monroe, Louisiana sure looks like a bubble to me, without higher education or other types of exposure to the larger world, this is what the result sometimes looks like.

I thought many things while looking up and down from my knitting to watch a sampling of episodes from the series. And, curious things popped into my head.

1. This is what the Beverly Hillbillies would be like if they had stayed in the backwoods. Well, maybe not. Jed is wise. But, you know what I mean. Give Jethro a bit of an edge and a hint of opinionated meanness in the face of any type of authority, and there’s Jase.

2. In a curious way, Duck Dynasty reminds me of The Jersey Shore, a series that makes us feel smarter and more content with our own lives after peering into the routines of various characters. Both sets of series characters are presented as exotic others. Both sets have questionable work ethics. And, both series inspire a bit of morbid curiosity viewing but (to me at least) wear thin very quickly.

3. Perhaps I understand where Phil is coming from because I know people just like him. Most of us with a certain type of proudly self-sufficient rural roots (even one generation removed like mine) know people like Phil and may even have a few of them on the outer branches of the family tree.

I would take Phil’s comments with more seriousness if I took him seriously. No, I’m not trying to minimize the egregious things he said. And, while it’s clear that his homophobic comments come straight from his religious tradition, I’m not sure where his comments on race come from, which makes that statement from the article even harder for me to take.

But, it takes time and exposure to competing ideas and some degree of willingness to accept change for minds to open.

On some level, I’m just as bothered by the hypocrisy of the A & E network. Producers and crew surely know all about Phil’s attitudes, which are obviously carefully edited from the series.

That’s fine. Sanitize the series and take the money to the bank. But, there should be no surprises for the network that this is who the patriarch of their cash cow really is, which means the suspension feels a little bit like Captain Renault closing down Rick’s club in Casablanca — “I’m shocked…shocked to find that gambling is going on in there” – right before an employee brings him his winnings.

Suspending Phil from the series is disingenuous, though the network has the right. On the other hand, I’m suspending him and all the other members of the dynasty from my DVR, which seems fitting.

And, so you know, I avoid Alec Baldwin as much as I can, too. Hate speech from the left still hateful.

One other note about hypocrisy while we are on the topic….I saw the funniest (because it’s true) thing on Facebook this morning and had to share it on my own page.

It is a photo of the Dixie Chicks with the caption “If there is one thing people in the red states respect, it is freedom of speech” above the photo and the caption “Just ask the Dixie Chicks” below.

TV-Duck Dynasty

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