If you've been following the story of the Duck Dynasty gang and Phil Robertson being suspended from the show for comments he made in a GQ interview concerning homosexuality. Phil made his beliefs and his reason for those beliefs pretty clear. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and many in the LGBT community took offense to what he said and in fact, GLAAD made a public statement concerning Robertson and those who support the show.
Today's post isn't about Phil Robertson and/or A&E but about freedom of speech and those who would take it away from you.
GLAAD is an organization that does not believe in free speech unless your speech echoes their beliefs. They have proved it in their response to Robertson's remarks.
“We believe the next step is to use this as an opportunity for Phil to sit down with gay families in Louisiana and learn about their lives and the values they share,” the spokesman said.
In other words - "We must change your thinking to match ours because we will not tolerate your disagreement with us.
GLAAD is also currently researching companies who use Robertson as a spokesperson to launch campaigns against them in an effort to further stifle free speech.
“I don’t think this is about the first amendment,” said a GLAAD spokesman. “I feel it’s more about the America we live in today. That is one where Americans, gay and straight, are able to speak out when people in the public eye make anti-gay and racist remarks.”
Of course, whether or not Phil Robertson's remarks were anti-gay is a matter of opinion - unless you're GLAAD. Robertson bases his beliefs on the Bible and stated so. (GLAAD said he was interpreting the Bible wrong...) He wasn't name calling; he wasn't putting any particular person or group of people down. He was expressing his lack of understanding and personal distaste for the gay lifestyle. And guess what? People in this country currently have the right to their own ideas and opinions and have the right to express them publicly - even those in "the public eye".
More than 70,000 people so far have signed the online petition asking A&E to drop the suspension of Phil Robertson. Cracker Barrel restaurant removed all Duck Dynasty merchandise from their store shelves to make a stand with GLAAD - until the backlash from customers got so bad they reversed the decision and put all the merchandise back out.
“It just means we still have a lot of work to do,” the GLAAD spokesman said.
“Silence is agreement in this case,” he said. “With such egregious anti-gay and racist comments, those companies that choose to be affiliated with this family need to speak out.”
And if, like Cracker Barrel, those other companies refuse to be controlled by GLAAD and other activist organizations - what then?
It doesn't matter how you feel about people who are different from you if you treat them with respect. Phil Robertson could have kept quiet during the interview when asked what he thought was sinful in today's world. But gee - GLAAD says silence is agreement. GLAAD believes they have a right to voice their own beliefs whether or not they might offend others. So if Phil Robertson keeps quiet it indicates his agreement with GLAAD and goes against his own personal and religious beliefs.
How can one person or group (GLAAD/LGBT) express their personal ideas and beliefs with which others disagree but refuse to allow another person or group (Robertson, etc.) to voice an opposing view? Wait - I know... it's intolerance. The same intolerance of which the first group accuses the second.
Like it or not, real tolerance goes both ways (no pun intended.) If you demand tolerance of your ideas, beliefs and even lifestyles then you must tolerate those of others - even if you disagree with them. If not - you're the one with the problem.