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HARPER: A&E puts money over principle with ‘Duck Dynasty’
Question of the Day
Cable network A&E may not like what “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson said about gays, but the network still plans to make money from his reality show.
On Sunday, the network started to air a marathon of past episodes and has nine new ones, including appearances by the head of the Louisiana clan, ready to go in January.
It appears principle doesn’t trump money when it comes to Disney and Hearst, which own the network.
Mr. Robertson, however, continued to stand on principle — one that emphasized the cultural divide between those who produce reality shows and those who star in them. Like the Robertson family, I come from flyover country. That’s the space between the coasts that New Yorkers and Los Angeles residents think holds a bunch of Bible-thumping buffoons who oppose everything that right-minded people should support: abortion, gun control and same-sex marriage.
Although Mr. Robertson’s comments may have been coarse, I happen to agree with his theme. So does the Roman Catholic Church, of which I am a practicing member. Gays can participate in Catholic services, but homosexual acts are considered sinful. Also, the Pew Research Center has found that 45 percent of those polled found homosexual acts sinful — the same number as those who did not.
But many in the media, such as Tom Lowery, a self-described entrepreneur from Jersey City, N.J., in The Huffington Post, contended that Mr. Robertson — and by extension me — wasn’t even entitled to an opinion.
In a mind-numbing, turgid article, Mr. Lowery provided 10 reasons with hyperlinks, some of which didn’t work correctly, to a variety of authors and philosophers. One of his analysts was French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, whose work, according to his biography, “has had a galvanizing influence on today’s anti-capitalist movement.”
Another analyst was Bertrand Russell, the 1950 Nobel laureate who had trouble figuring out what philosophy he wanted to follow, from pacifism to socialism. Yes, “mind-numbing and turgid” is my opinion, and I am entitled to it after examining the article, which showed Mr. Lowery’s ability to create hyperlinks rather than state his own views. (See huff.to/JkICRU). Having studied under the Jesuits, an order that includes the pope, I respect their logical analysis much more than Mr. Lowery’s assessment.
Even Camille Paglia, the well-known social analyst and a lesbian, told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that the United States had become too politically correct in attacking Mr. Robertson for his beliefs, irrespective of her disagreement with his views.
“To express yourself in a magazine in an interview — this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist,” she said.
Despite his indefinite suspension from “Duck Dynasty,” which earns about $200,000 an episode for the family, Mr. Robertson hasn’t backed down from his statements of opposition to homosexuality. He did temper the language during a Bible study group, which he led in his hometown of West Monroe, La. He allowed the British newspaper the Daily Mail to attend.
“I love all men and women,” he said. “I am a lover of humanity, not a hater.”
Mr. Robertson is entitled to his opinion. He isn’t entitled to a television gig, which is why A&E — a network that features horse riders in bikinis and bidding wars over contents of storage lockers — has a right to suspend him because there is a clause somewhere in his contract that restricts his right to free speech. Nevertheless, I’m not so sure A&E should keep the money it will make after suspending Mr. Robertson. It seems rather hypocritical to me.
About the Author
Christopher Harper is a professor of journalism at Temple University. He worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and “20/20” for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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