The Duck Dynasty controversy has become so ugly so fast. It's time to just call it what it is. Religious zealots like Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson are using the Bible to defame a group of people and excuse horrible actions against that group in the name of their Bible, refusing responsibility for the hate their words condone and inspire.
And much of the media seems to be going along with it because the Robertsons, a Louisiana family with a reality TV show on A&E, are home-spun country people whom everyone seems to love. I'm seeing way too much defense of this crap as free speech -- as if every corporation is forced to allow its employees to spew vile and offensive defamation against people.
Try telling your boss that he or she is like a pig-f**ker and see how long you keep your job. Just tell him or her it's in the Bible, and see if that keeps you from getting shown the door immediately without collecting your stuff.
Is it really OK to group gay people with people who engage in sex with animals, and with mass murderers who plot attacks on innocent people? Do we really think there should be no ramifications from an employer for such speech if you say that as the star of a television show? And if it was said about any other group, like Jews or blacks -- grouping them with pig-f**kers and terrorists -- would we see so much defense of it? (And let's not forget that Robertson did make ugly racial comments as well, saying that blacks were better off under Jim Crow America -- "they were godly'' and "they were happy" -- and his defenders are just ignoring this defamation.)
The outrage over the comments is now centering on his free speech rights to express belief in biblical scripture. Anti-LGBT religious leaders, like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, have for some time been looking for that big story to help them turn the LGBT rights successes into an attack on freedom of religion.
Now they got it.
Robertson compared homosexuality to bestiality, using Scripture, listing those among sins in the Bible. His supporters say that to punish him for that is to punish him for his religious beliefs. In a sermon three years ago he also compared gays to terrorists, listing among the sinners "homosexuals, drunkards, terrorists."
When A&E suspended him, reportedly for the bestiality comparisons, the backlash grew enormously, within hours on Facebook, with Sarah Palin leading the way. The gross hypocrisy of this seems to be lost on much of the media, too. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana put out a statement saying he remembers when TV stations "believed in the First Amendment." But I don't remember such a statement from him when Martin Bashir was suspended by MSNBC a few weeks ago because of comments he made about Sarah Palin that insulted her and energized her conservatives minions to call for Bashir's firing -- the very same minions now trying to save Robertson, crying about free speech.
In this current situation, however, it's not one individual who's been insulted but an entire group of people defamed, attacked, vilified, bludgeoned with words that have been used by bullies in America's schools and bashers on the streets to engage in violence against LGBT people.
I'm sick of hearing that the Bible is the justification for this hatred. There are all sorts of practices promoted and condoned in the Bible, including slavery, keeping women in concubines, polygamy (yes, Moses and Abraham had several wives) and incest (sleeping with daughters to beget more children).
The Bible's one verse on homosexuality is no excuse for horrendously defaming an entire group of people publicly and expecting your employer, with whom you've signed a contract, to "respect" that as your religious belief. But furthermore, if you're going to do that, you should be doing it to its ultimate degree: The verse in Leviticus actually calls for putting gays to death. Yet, though they're shrouding their hate in the Bible, they're not willing to go that far, which further exposes not only hypocrisy but the fact that this is plain old bigotry.
This isn't about religious freedom or freedom of speech. You have free speech in this country, but speech sometimes has consequences. If you must spew bigotry as religious freedom, go found a church, or stand on your property and say it, or hand out filers on the streets. But no company is compelled to hire you for speech attacking a group of people, nor to refrain from letting you know it's unacceptable while you are employed by them. (And Robertson hasn't been fired; he's been suspended, with the company sending the message that his spewing of hate has ramifications.) As I've said since the days when Laura Schlessinger called gays a "biological error," you have a right to free speech, but no one has a right to a TV show.