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Sunday, October 17, 2021

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Duck Dynasty controversy ruffles a few feathers


These days, scandals are about as frequent as grammatical errors in a 14-year-old’s Facebook status.

If you have had a chance to watch the news or check the Internet lately, you have probably been bombarded with multiple stories and irate statuses concerning the Phil Robertson “Duck Dynasty” controversy.

As with any scandal, there were opposing sides. However, with the “Duck Dynasty” scandal, it seems like the sides were more divided and vicious towards their opponents than ever before.

“Duck Dynasty” is a reality television series that airs on A&E and follows the family that owns the company Duck Commander. This family owned business produces duck calls for duck hunters — i.e. “Duck Dynasty.”

The Robertson family is well known for their extremely lengthy beards, rich country accents and strong religious footholds. Many viewers identified with and idolized this family for their strong family values and their tenacious worth ethic.

In fact, Zap 2 It reported that the fourth-season premiere drew in 11.8 million viewers, which made it the most-watched nonfiction cable series in history.

Phil Robertson, the founder of “Duck Dynasty,” is well-loved among the viewing community for his blunt personality; however, when Robertson voiced his offensive viewpoints outside of the A&E community, there were repercussions.

In mid-December 2013, Robertson sat down for an interview with GQ to discuss the show’s success and his family.

According to the GQ article, Robertson freely voiced his opinions on religion and other controversial things that don’t make the cut onto national television — and thus, he began to have a bad case of putting his foot in his mouth.

During this interview, Robertson ruffled the feathers of the nation by stating that homosexuality is a sin. Although this should not have been a surprise due to his previously stated religious morals, it was still shocking to hear.

“It seems like, to me, a vagina – as a man – would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me,” he said. “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.”

In this same interview, Robertson also managed to offend the African American community by speaking of the times before the civil rights movement and naively saying slaves were happy and “no one was singing the blues.”

According to eonline.com, Robertson later equated homosexuality to adultery by saying that Jesus would take away all sins.

“Don’t be deceived,” he said. “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.”

It is no surprise that Robertson’s comments warranted opinions regarding his racist and homophobic opinions.

Some Americans agreed with Robertson’s comments and believed that his morals greatly matched their own. Some advocacy groups praised Robertson’s “traditional” viewpoints, while others felt that Robertson’s views were narrow-minded, offensive and should not be embodied by society.

In addition, not only would Phil Robertson’s words have been offensive regardless, but it did not help that this show was broadcast on A&E — a proud supporter of the LGBT community.

Actions needed to be taken against Robertson’s blatant discrimination; therefore, soon after his comments, Robertson was “suspended indefinitely” from the show.

When this scandal surfaced, the Internet was crawling with people who wanted to voice their opinion. With each opinionated status, tweet or thread voiced, many comments would follow from others who opposed the expressed viewpoints. People argued over whether A&E should reinstate someone who embodied opinions that were discriminatory.

However, after much rage from the viewers and the rest of the Robertson family members, A&E decided to continue with Robertson on the show.

Most people believed this controversy would die as quickly as people’s enthusiasm for Kony 2012, but that has proved to be incorrect.

When “Duck Dynasty” recently premiered its new season, the viewer rate was considerably lower than its previously record-breaking ratings, and advocate.com reported that the series took a 28 percent drop from the previous season’s debut.

In addition, this scandal proved that someone can easily go from being beloved to being despised when One Direction singer Liam Payne sent out a tweet to Robertson’s nephew regarding the Robertson family.

Oh, how a 125-character tweet can change so much.

According to buzzfeed.com, on Jan. 18th, Payne tweeted to Robertson’s nephew, “huge love to you/your family huge respect for your business prosperities and the family values you still all behold. Big fan.”

Maybe Payne had not witnessed the feedback that this scandal got on the Internet, but he soon realized the impact when the influx of disapproving Twitter followers flew in.

Payne’s supportive tweet caused outrage and disgust from many of his followers.

Youtube star Tyler Oakley responded to Payne’s tweet by saying, “Wow. Very confused and disappointed by this … tweet. This literally changed everything…”

As much as I disagree with Phil Robertson’s viewpoints, I also believe in freedom of speech. If he would like to voice what I believe to be tasteless opinions, he is allowed to; however, as he is allowed freedom of speech, so are other people.

A&E should have maintained their ground on suspending Robertson instead of reinstating him shortly after viewers threw temper tantrums.

That’s the interest thing about freedom of speech: even if you do not agree with someone else’s opinions, you will still be forced to see them on your newsfeed every day.

Always remember that with such great power comes great responsibility — and oftentimes, consequence.

Senior staff columnists Kelly Schafler is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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