Your Right to be Offended, My Right to Offend
I get a kick out of Duck Dynasty, even though I can tell that the stories are pretty manufactured reality scripting put around some genuinely nice people with different lifestyles than mine. Not totally different, mind you. So I find it interesting how upset people are that “ol’ loveable Phil” has the opinions that an older Christian man is likely to have. Ed Morrissey puts it nicely here:
Anyway, the point is this: A&E knew that the Robertsons were fundamentalist Christians when they started making oodles of money off of them. That was part of the schtick. In fact, that’s part of GQ’s schtick in this interview, too, which comes across in bucketloads in the profile — pointing at the rednecks and laughing. Yet the moment that Phil Robertson expresses what is actually a mainstream Christian belief in sin, he’s booted off the show because he’s … what? Too real? Or too Christian?
He’s neither. He’s mostly just off the reservation. A&E is likely worrying about all the people who will boycott the channel if such an awful person graces their prime time. Except they’ll likely keep running the re-runs and raking in cash.
So enter Bobby Jindal, who probably gets a fair amount of unthinking commentary tossed his way:
“Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the State of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with. I don’t agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended,” said Jindal in a prepared statement.
I do get why this is becoming so central to a culture skirmish. We appear to have a feeling these days that we can be entertained right up to the point where we’re personally offended, and then we’re not entertained anymore. And that’s probably fine. When something ceases to amuse you, you generally stop doing it. And censorship of unlikeable ideas has always been on the edges of entertainment. But does your right to be offended trump my right to offend?
In some cases, probably. In this case, A&E is probably going to hope this blows over fast before it loses a franchise.
More interesting, and probably more a point for this blog… I wonder what the Robertsons are going to do? They already have a very successful business that makes them plenty of money. They also have a very successful TV franchise with merchandising that brings in money. I don’t know how much of the take they get on that part, but I’m assuming it’s pretty lucrative given how often I see Duck Dynasty stuff out there. Do they decide to take a principled stand and stop the show? I doubt it, since they also see that the show gives them an opportunity to espouse their beliefs to a generally unbelieving crowd. I don’t think that any principles are actually at risk here. But the right to offend? Well, that might be a risk again.