The Problem with Duck Dynasty's Phil RobertsonSerge Bielanko
I really did.
I mean, the long-bearded, slow-talking patriarch of the Duck Dynasty reality TV family has made zillions of dollars serving up nice warm slices of “God, Family, and Ducks… In That Order” to an American public crazy-hungry for permission to wear camouflage to church glares at the camera. When he glares at the camera, he certainly seems sensible enough.
He speaks gently but firmly, his carefully chosen words puffing out of a pair of lips pretty much no one has ever seen; hidden behind all that beard hair. And when he talks, he talks like a man who has seen things, who has tasted a little blood in his day, and that’s true. He sits at the head of a long dinner table like a little swamp king of men, a country sire, breaking bread with his family only after they have bowed their heads in prayer.
Well. He has finally gone ahead and rammed a shell into the chamber and shot himself directly in his country soul.
God, family, and ducks, in that order. That’s what they said they were all about. But whatever. This particular little cul-de-sac kingdom is on fire now. And I’m getting the hell out.
The problem with Phil Roberston isn’t his mouth, it’s his head. I’m sure of that much. The Louisiana duck call inventor/backwoods preacher/recovering hardcore drinker/born-again grandpa blew the doors off the corporate A&E Channel henhouse this week with comments he made in an GQ magazine interview. In the piece, he not only condemns homosexuality, but he condemns it in a way which kind of awkwardly points to the fact that, like it or not, there are only two attitudes left when it comes to gay people living on Earth in the 21st century.
Either you want them here or you don’t.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” —Phil Robertson
See the problem here is that, for Robertson and and the rest of the people with his attitude, being gay always boils down to one thing and one thing only, and that’s the sex thing. If gay people didn’t have intimate relations with other gay people, chances are good that no one would be wasting too much of their time trying to convince everyone else how despicable they find it all.
And the problem with THAT is the fact that they are ignoring the issue almost entirely.
I really don’t know exactly what the Bible says about laying with another man or whatever, mostly because, like the United States Constitution, the Bible is one of those books or documents that throws a whole pile of ideas up in the air like confetti, and then stands back and smirks as big groups of people spend the rest of their lives trying to hold up a handful of old fragmented ideals and propositions while they holler, “Look! LOOK! It’s right there! Just read the damn confetti already!”
I’m done with reading confetti, though. I’m totally uninterested and I am not alone.
Don’t give me that free speech crap, dude. It’s tiring.
No one really wants to stop a guy like Robertson from speaking his mind. That’s his right, after all. Or his wrong, depending on how you tend to whiff these things. So the whole free speech deal where you try and detour the actual argument here and skirt the real issue is just amateur hour Facebook meme stuff. Insert Phil’s head/American flag/Constitutional quote HERE. It’s not enough. Not even close.
The problem with Robertson isn’t anything he says with his tongue, it’s what he believes under his bones.
And when we focus on that for a moment, without the whole side circus of free speech, that’s a much darker and painful corner to ourselves in. I look at a man like Phil Robertson, a man who has done well for himself and his family in America, a man who has taken advantage of the landslide of freedoms and opportunities and, let’s face it, luck that have come down upon him after a life of struggle and effort, and I have to laugh at the things that he says he believes.
“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,” he told Esquire. “Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Are we talking about the same country here, Boss? Because from where I’m standing, on a small hill overlooking a pretty good knowledge of actual documented history, the whole world, and especially the good old US of A, is more or less built upon the backs of just about everyone he mentioned there. And if you don’t really understand what I’m talking about, well, then you ought to just stop talking to anyone about anything “American” at all, because you are speaking out of ignorence.
Entire dynasties and epic wars and never-ending empires have all been dipped, battered, and fried (rather liberally, I might add) in the blood and grease of some of the sleaziest people who have ever existed.
And so, when you start spouting off about who exactly is going to get into God’s kingdom, while at the same time professing to be a real tried and true red-blooded American reality folk hero who can command more money than most Americans will make all year just to show up at a Bass Pro Shop for two hours on a Saturday morning to sign camo ball caps and get your picture taken with fans… it’s not the words you’re saying that remind me of the nastiest kind of two-timing outlaw who ever lived.
It’s the heart of the man behind them.
There is sex and there is love. So, yeah. Pick your poison, I guess.
Me, I’ve lived a life filled with heartache and triumph and pain and suffering and joy so enormous you would need a battleship to pull it around with you if it were even possible to keep ownership of it for all of your days. I have come to a point in my life, as I crest the hill and start down the far side, when all I really want for my two young kids and the unborn child in my beautiful wife’s belly is actually the same thing I want for you, believe it or not.
I want some peace.
I hope you find someone to share your life with, someone who makes you happy and makes you smile and hopefully holds your hand or whispers in your ear, or just appears to you in some kind of murky vision someday when you are lying there under the final lights of your life, dying in a bed or on a battlefield or behind the crumbled dashboard of your steaming pile of car.
I honestly, seriously want you to find true love. I need you to do it. Because without that, you’re running all angry and confused and you’re getting in my face with stuff I don’t need to know or hear about. And you’re lonely, which sucks big time.
But through all of that, there ain’t a drop of religion in me really. I look at the sky and I see the sky and I know that it’s beautiful and vast and mysterious. I know that it’s only mine for a while longer until it isn’t mine anymore. What I don’t ever think about, or give even a moment of my time to, is worrying about who it is that you end up with. Or who your kids end up with. Or my kids, either.
Man. Woman. Gay. Not gay. A little gay. Why should I care? In all seriousness: why would I? I’m way too busy living my life out here in the middle of you living yours. I’m way too busy over here, holding someone’s hand when she lets me too busy to ever take a cross-eyed glance at the hand you happen to be holding.
Jeez, people. Enjoy the sky while you can.
Just find a heart and slam it up against your chest for as long as you possibly can, that’s what I say. And if that idea really bothers you somehow? That makes me sad, sad, sad.