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More reader feedback on A&E's suspension of Phil Robertson from "Duck Dynasty"

by Carla Hinton Modified: December 28, 2013 at 7:30 am •  Published: December 28, 2013
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As promised in today’s Oklahoman, I have included many of the emails and letters on the Phil Robertson-A&E snafu on this blog.
I have been flooded with emails and letters (and I do mean inundated) with correspondence from readers who have definite opinions about this latest development in the extraordinary saga of the Robertson family and their hit reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.”
Soooooo, A&E decided to lift its suspension of the Phil Robertson yesterday. That move, I’m sure did not surprise many of the readers who sent in their comments on the matter. Most of them lauded Phil Robertson for  standing by his convictions and warned that A&E would pay a hefty price for booting the bearded Bible-quoting patriarch off his own show. Looks like A&E got that message pretty quick.
Anyway, here are more edited excerpts from readers, along with their city and denomination/faith affiliation, where noted. Again, my thanks to all who wrote in:
Sandra Bailey, Yukon, Nazarene: I do feel A & E was wrong!  They HAD to know how Phil & his family felt.  A & E is only interested in money and I feel they will eventually lose. I completely agree with Phil Robertson’s right to state his convictions.  I also am a born again Christian & I believe we posses the right as free Americans to express our convictions and opinions.  I am confused by the left (liberals) – THEY FEEL ONLY THEIR OPINIONS Count!  I’m sorry for them.

David Nickell, Oklahoma City, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): The most important thing to remember is this is not about the right to free speech but about employment. Although I disagree with his opinions and they were expressed in a particularly hurtful manner, I defend absolutely his right to express them. However, if I publicly express something that is publicly embarrassing or costly to my employer I may face consequences. This individual was not denied a public forum to state his beliefs. He is employed as an actor to make money for his employer and if he takes a position that is contrary to that expectation his employer has the right to take him off the air. He can always return to self-employment making duck calls where he can say  whatever he wants.

Derry Myers, Christian: My hat is off to Phil Robertson for publicly stating the biblical position on this issue and A&E is wrong to suspend him from their program for exercising his freedom of speech.  I hope the family decides to part ways with the network.  A&E has more to lose on this than the Robertsons.  Where else will A&E find a program that will garner 11.8 million viewers?

Danielle Blue, Yukon, atheist: I completely support Phil Robertson! Everyone is entitled to their opinion, religion, and personal preferences. While I am an Atheist and an avid supporter of gay rights, I feel that Phil Robertson has done nothing wrong. He was asked his opinion on a subject and he gave it. He supported it with quotes from a well known and respected book. This is a clear violation of freedom of speech and religion. He is being persecuted for his opinion. I am astounded at the hypocrisy of people who are fighting so hard for their basic human rights, yet denying him his.

Kirk Kolar: Now matter how one views Phil’s comments, he has the right to state them. He has free speech like everyone else in America. He is well known to preach the gospel, and has the right to do so. If A&E persists in denying freedom of speech, I will personally block their channel, and never think of their views again. There was a time in human history when a man with a beard spoke out against what was going on in a market place on Sundays. He was crucified for making his beliefs known. Is that not what A&E is pursuing presently?

D.E.”Pat” Piatt, Oklahoma City: It is clear! Major media outlets are quick to jump on people who say anything that “sounds” religious, especially “Christian.” The “Duck Dynasty” flap, is, in my opinion(deep seated belief) set up by the GQ interviewer and/or the management. He/they knew the basic religious beliefs Phil and his family held, and, the intent was to get him to say what he/they believed( they were pretty sure that he wouldn’t lie) and he answered honestly. Now, why don’t you, and other media people(especially those in the religious business) check out the source of his beliefs and see if they have a credible source! They Do! They are not far from direct quotes from most currently published Bibles. Once those quotes are pointed out( especially the Sodom and Gomorrah story) they will see that God destroyed them because He said those people were not “righteous” in their behavior or activities. Abraham got God to agree to “not” destroy them if there were ten righteous men living there! There weren’t ; He did destroy them! See Gen: 18:20.
Now, the real problem is; who in the media would even consider looking in the Bible to see what its says about how people should live/act? I do! I was christened and confirmed as Lutheran but during the last sixty years, I looked in the Bible and found what It said about right and wrong and sin and sinning didn’t match what I nor relatives and friends were taught by our different churches. I now consider myself to be a “Biblical Christian.” Much of what most religious denominations believe is not in, or is contrary to, the Bible. 
Rich MacMillan, Shawnee, Christian: Phil Robertson spoke from the heart and from his religious background. A&E chose to film the Robertsons because of their lifestyle, their upbringing, their homey dialogue, and everything else that makes the Robertsons unique. Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of  speech.
You can yell fire in a theater, but you REALLY shouldn’t.
You can burn the American flag, but you REALLY shouldn’t.
There are things you can say or do that are legal, but it might not be the most advantageous for a person to act upon them. Voltaire said ” I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
I don’t agree or disagree with what Phil said. I have my own beliefs.
Should A&E suspend Phil ?  It will hurt A&E more than it will hurt Phil & his family. It’s too late now, but Phil should not have been suspended.
J.E. Nieman, Oklahoma City: I have read two of Phil’s books and they are excellent reading if you like hunting and Christianity.  He did an excellent job with both items in both books.  This country has gone too far in the world of political correctness and A&E should not have suspended Phil, as I believe Phil has a great following.
Paul Rothwell, M.D.: By now, the whole world has heard of “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson’s run-in with the world of political correctness. Having just read his book, “Happy,Happy, Happy” and returned from a trip to Las Vegas, I have had the privilege of exposure to two polarized world views that basically define where we are as a country. Am I the only one who is weary of all of the so-called “political correctness” that censors and cheapens our meaningful conversations? What ever happened to a country where real men (and women) were able to honestly speak from their hearts? All too common, those who worship political correctness in the name of “tolerance” and “sensitivity” forget the freedoms we were guaranteed by our forefathers (not “framers”). While I may not agree with the perceived harshness of Phil’s comments (Draconian to the “correct”), I doubt seriously that he should be labeled as a “homophobe.” There does seem to be a marriage ( incorrect use of the word) between contemporary situational ethics and “correctness.”
Forget the truth as long as the end justifies the means and no one is offended! Indeed, we live in an integrity vacuum. Perhaps this is only one of many reasons we as Americans are perceived as “gutless” shadows of our former selves by our neighbors with whom we share this planet.
The “me generation” is alive and well as we say in medicine. Whatever happen to “a man’s word is his honor” or genuine selfless behavior modeled on the Golden Rule? I can almost hear the secular progressives snickering at this moment. But like Phil, I believe that I have a right to be heard in the public forum, but should also listen to others views even if I might disagree. Fact, America still has more freedoms and opportunity for upward mobility than any other country in the world! I am saddened to think that most of us take it for granted. Phil and his success story, both spiritually and monetarily, represent what is truly great about our country. His unapologetic demonstration of true family values has helped make “Duck Dynasty” such a hit. A patient of mine who comes from a broken, dysfunctional home recently told me that the Robertsons are the family that she never had! In my opinion many,even secretly, are attracted to the love and simple honest wholesomeness that is demonstrated by their family. How else can you explain the overwhelming success of their series? Whether you agree with him or not, he has a right to express his opinion without the filter of “political correctness” and the fear of reprisal that typically follows. It is called “freedom of speech” and it works both ways or it doesn’t work at all!
Kathryn Jones: I am offended every time I attempt to watch the ridiculous sitcoms that are on TV there days.  They are all about sex, in all kinds of immoral ways.  All things that were once unacceptable on public TV are now common place. I have never watched “Duck Dynasty,”  but I have heard it is very popular and one of the reasons are because this family in reality are moral people who live by their Christian beliefs.  If a viewer doesn’t like to watch such a family, then turn the channel, there are plenty of immoral programs that might be more to their taste.

Richard Kienlen, Oklahoma City: I think A&E screwed up royally, and I hope they pay for it, both financially and in viewership. I won’t watch anything from them until they reverse their position and apologize. And now that they’ve caved to one group they’ll have to do so for all from now on.

Don and Peggy Johnson, Bethany, Southern Baptist: We feel Phil Robertson has as much right to express his opinion as anyone else. He should not be suspended for his beliefs.

Cliff Jones, Oklahoma City, Assembly of God: I do not agree with  the A&E decision to suspend Phil Robertson from the reality show “Duck Dynasty.” Every person in the United States has the constitutional right to express their views and opinions based on their  personal as well as religious beliefs. If you are a Christian you believe in the Bible in it’s entirety. Homosexuality is spoke to specifically in the Bible. Christians can’t pick and choose which part of the Bible they like or don’t like. If you believe the Bible you believe it all. The gay lifestyle is a personal choice and everyone has the right to agree or disagree with that lifestyle choice. I support Phil Robertson and his constitutional as well as religious based right to express his opinion on the gay lifestyle and disagree completely with the A&E decision to suspend him. When did we lose he right to freedom of speech? Everyone needs to GET OVER IT and MOVE ON.

R. Wood, Choctaw, Christian: I am not a regular viewer of “Duck Dynasty” (I have seen parts of two episodes in the past two years) nor am I a member of the clergy. I had read a brief synopsis of the GQ article the day before Phil Robertson was suspended from the Duck Dynasty show. When I read the article, I thought he might get some backlash, but the part that he is getting criticized about is almost a direct quote from the Holy Bible. Many Christians, such as me consider the Bible to be the inspired Word of God and our pattern for how to live our lives. I feel that you either have to believe all of what you read in the Holy Bible is true or you have to pass it all off as fiction. In Revelation 22:18-19, the NIV Bible says, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” The words from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 are almost the exact words that Phil Robertson told GQ. Phil Robertson was also correct when he said that it is not up to him judge, but up to God (the Father) to judge.

DiAnn Sanford, Edmond, Catholic: It’s shocking that A&E suspended Phil Robertson over comments he made. He gave his own personal opinion on several issues. Whether you agree with him or not, he is entitled to state is opinion. What happened to free speech? A&E should just put a disclaimer before the beginning of the show if they disagree with him.

Don Mount, Mustang, Baptist: Although you have asked for the public’s  thoughts and comments on the “Duck Dynasty” flap, I realize that you will probably not chose mine because I believe they pretty well parallel those of Phil Robertson.  I am a strong believer in God, faith, family, country and myself.  I feel sure that Phil Robertson could care less about what A&E attempts to do to him and that no matter what, he will not “compromise his beliefs and principles.  Because of this deal, I can assure you that I will black ball the A&E network and I will encourage all others to do the same.  The A&E network may be financially strong, huge, powerful and attempt to impose their thoughts and will on others, but I can tell them for sure and certain, “The Lord God Almighty” is still in control and only he has the power to do all things and do them well.  If A&E thinks that this is going to stop Phil Robertson or others from praying aloud and freely expressing their “God Given Rights” then surely God himself will deal with them appropriately.

Mike Turner, Holdenville, Methodist: I believe Mr. Robertson is entitled to his personal opinions, but he must remember that he is under contract  to A&E. We, of course, don’t know the terms of that contract but it may contain terms restricting his rights of expression. I, personally, found his remarks offensive. But I’m not a viewer of that show anyway.

Michael Bruton, Oklahom City, Christian: A&E’s decision to censure Phil Robertson for his comments to GQ magazine deploring homosexuality, is deplorable to me.  Duck Dynasty’s suspension of Phil Robertson is a nominal case of calling good evil, and calling evil good.  The marginalizing of Christianity in the United States reminds me of an Oklahoma tornado.  Eventually we may have to head to our shelters and hope that the storm doesn’t injure us personally.  What a shame.  How far we have fallen as a country since 1776.

Tony Patton, Arcadia: I think you guys are falling into the same trap that many media sources find themselves. The man was asked his opinion, and he gave it. He has proven himself time and again that he is a man of faith, and doesn’t have the tolerance mentality of being politically correct. And you want to punish him and his family? That’s the key in redneck worlds. You go after one, you have to fight them all. This would have been a great opportunity for A&E to stand up FOR the man, without having to publicly take a side, by just stating that the man has a right to his opinion. Whether you were under pressure from the gay rights groups, or just decided on your own to take the step you took, you didn’t think it all the way through. Not only does “Duck Dynasty” pad your pockets, but maybe, just maybe, they stand for something bigger than ratings, money and fame. Finally, they don’t need A&E, or any other media source to survive. They have proven that already. I just hope this stands as a call to arms for the Christians to finally start pushing back on the violation of OUR rights, and OUR freedom of speech. It’s not too late to reverse what you have done. Yes, it will be hard, and yes, the gay rights groups will come after you, but think of what statement your organization will say to the world? How about “we are going to stand for what is right, pure, lovely and lasting.” God always rewards obedience and doing the right thing versus doing things right. Make a stand. Be the man Phil is in your capacity as a leading entertainment network. Praying for you.

Howard Hoisington, Yukon, agnostic: It is all about money, not about “rights.” If A&E feels justified about the suspension – then the Robertson family should feel equally justified about pulling out of the show.  Who needs who the most — A&E’s need for the biggest cash cow in it’s line up or the Robertson family who already have more money than they could ever spend?   To the Robertson family: stick to your principles. Do not give an inch. Let A&E suffer the biggest loss and you folks enjoy fishing.

Carla Hinton

Religion Editor
 
 
 

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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