CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

December 20, 2013

A hit show gets bigger


The Cullman Times

— Take a guy from the woods and put him on TV, make him famous and ask him questions about the latest hot topics in America. What do you get?

A frank opinion and a public uproar.

What else would we expect in the muddled landscape of modern America?

“Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, 67, was indefinitely suspended from the popular reality show aired by A&E Networks. The problems started in an interview Robertson did with GQ. He was asked his definition of sinful behavior. And it went like this, according to a report from Associated Press:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” such as bestiality, he said.

GQ said he then paraphrases a biblical reference: “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.”

The usual political defenders such as Sarah Palin are bemoaning the decline of American free speech. But let’s not go there. Robertson spoke freely to GQ. A&E’s leadership, which is tied to The Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., call themselves supporters of the gay and lesbian community and view the remarks by the TV star as anti-gay. So they suspended him. A&E is not the government. A&E did not suppress free speech. But as the owner of the program, those folks have the power to discipline through suspension or termination anyone in their shows, the same way any other business holds that ability.

On the cynical side of this less-than-important flap is the fact that “Duck Dynasty” will become more popular than ever. A&E just boosted its ratings. You can argue about free speech all day and night, but free enterprise comes out the winner in this one. The “Duck” guys will be stars a long time and A&E will have a hit show beyond reality.