Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty

Who
do you agree with?

Whether you're a die-hard Duck Dynasty fan or you've never heard of the firearm-toting family, you've likely now read DD patriarch Phil Robertson's comments that earned him an indefinite hiatus from the A+E Network and incited a national debate. We take a closer look at both sides of the controversy.

The backstory

Known to some simply as "the Duck Commander," Phil Robertson grew up below the poverty line in rural backwoods Louisiana before going on to college at Louisiana Tech University, being drafted by the NFL (and subsequently turning it down), marrying his high-school sweetheart Kay and becoming a self-professed born-again Christian. He began the family business in a small shed by fashioning duck calls from cedar trees. Eventually his whistles caught the attention of hunting enthusiasts and kicked off the family "dynasty." Last March, A+E premiered a reality series centering around the Richardson men — Phil, his brother Si, and Phil's sons Jase, Willie and Jep — called Duck Dynasty. The show has since become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, breaking ratings records and drawing in 14 million viewers on average each week. The family is currently under scrutiny for comments Phil made during an interview with writer Drew Magary for GQ's January issue.

The quotes in question

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.

Everything is blurred on what's right and what's wrong... Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people'—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.

The arguments

Two major camps have emerged in light of the controversy: those hunkering down in support of Phil, citing free speech and religious liberty; and those bunking with A+E, citing civil rights infringement.

Duck Dynasty Cast

Phil's supporters

From fans and family (who've released a statement saying they stand by their patriarch) to conservative politicians like Texas senator Ted Cruz, supporters have been speaking out on Robertson's behalf. Many of these supporters say that Phil's right to free speech is being obliterated, as is his right to express his religious beliefs without persecution. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal went on record to commend the Robertsons for being "great citizens of the state of Louisiana," adding, "The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with."

Others contend that, in this country, it seems everyone has the right to free speech and freedom from religious persecution — except for Christians. And, along those lines, didn't A+E kind of figure when they signed up a Bible-thumping, rural backwoods Louisiana, taxidermied-animal decor kind of family for a reality series that said family might have a few opinions that could be considered politically incorrect?

As expected, many Christians are expressing support for Phil Robertson. Some agree with both his beliefs and his decision to vocalize them, while others don't share his beliefs but still believe he has a right to express them. Furthermore, they take offense at the idea that quotes from the interview illustrating Robertson's core Christian principles of tolerance and love are being swept under the rug. Quotes such as, "We're Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television. You put in your articles that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off," and "We never, ever judge someone on who's going to heaven, hell. That's the Almighty's job."

A+E's supporters

The outcry against Robertson's comments has been equally passionate, beginning with A+E. "We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty," the network said in a statement. "His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely."

Also quick to voice their disdain was GLAAD, who referred to the Duck Dynasty patriarch's opinions as some of "the vilest and most extreme" ever printed about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. In response to Robertson's suspension, the organization applauded A+E. "By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A+E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value," said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz.

In regard to the argument over free speech, many A+E supporters assert that free speech does not give a person the right to infringe upon the civil rights of others — in this case the LGBT community and the black community. The argument is also being made that Robertson's right to free speech was not, in fact, violated. He has not been arrested or prevented from expressing himself further. Rather, he was suspended from his job which, they say, is well within the rights of any employer who feels his or her company's best interest is at stake.

The Robertsons' response: Early on Wednesday, Robertson released the following statement: "I myself am a product of the '60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that men and women are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other." In a prepared statement, the family said of the show, "We have had a successful working relationship with A+E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A+E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty."

Writer's note: We at SheKnows have tried to provide a thorough unbiased account of this controversy, and we absolutely want to hear your thoughts via comment, but please keep it classy. One thing supporters from both sides seem to agree on is that hate begets more hate, and we couldn't agree more. Don't propagate the cycle.

Photo credits: Getty Images, Mr. Blue/WENN.com

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Comments

Comments on "Both arguments in the Duck Dynasty debate"

Julie Sprankles December 22, 2013 | 7:04 PM

Mark and John, thank you both for sharing your opinions! Hope you both have a Merry Christmas! Leon, please refer to paragraph three under the "Phil's supporters" column. As you'll see, we did include two quotes that exemplify the exact principle you speak of. "truthteller," glad to see you took the moral high road. For the record, I'm not ashamed of myself. Merry Christmas! (Yep, this "moron" has a heart, and I'm using it to send good vibes your way.) Karl, although the phrasing was actually meant in an affectionate way (I call my stepdad, who is a fun-loving Southern man very similar to Phil Robertson in many ways, an old kook), I agree with you that it could come off as otherwise. As such, the survey questions were tweaked accordingly. Thank for your feedback, and Merry Christmas!

Mark December 22, 2013 | 4:36 PM

There are consequences to our actions and according to the God Almighty, we will reap rewards and/or consequences of our actions; as the wages of sin is death. The death the bible speaks of is an eternal separation from GOD for all eternity All Phil did was take God's word which defines the sin, and share it with the world like many of our prophets have done in the past. Does not Human nature itself teach us the homoual behavior bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and a man sleeping with man is wrong. Just remember it is not the person that disgusts GOD rather it’s their actions.

John December 22, 2013 | 5:43 AM

You act a fool at work you get fired, period, the end. There are consequences to our actions. The fact that this guy hides behind his religion and freedom of speech to justify his hate offends me as a Christian and spits on the graves of all the Americans who have come before us and fought for our freedom.

Leon December 21, 2013 | 5:03 AM

You are as biased as they come, you didn't print the part about how he loves all humanity because that is what God tells him to do. You are spreading falsehoods about a man that from what I can see is about as close to a Godly man as I have ever met. He may not be perfect but please if you are cast that first stone.

Just some guy December 21, 2013 | 4:23 AM

The only civil liberties that were violated were Robertson's. Pray tell What would GLAAD's response be if someone of the "community" were to run around screaming at the top of their lungs "I'm here I'm queer!" and were subsequently fired or suspended from their job for doing so? I'd venture to say they would not reply that it was is "well within the rights of any employer who feels his or her company's best interest is at stake". Furthermore A&E went on record as saying they "champion" the and community and in regard to the rest of the cast of said show that no other cast members should be "punished" for Robertson's remarks. It's entirely clear to me that A&E has picked a side and the level of hypocrisy is amazing. The Louisiana governor was exactly correct when he stated "The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with". Whether the comments made by Robertson are offensive or not is not the issue. The issue is the glaring double standard that it's o.k. to say whatever you want as long as it is in line with the minority adgenda. Put in Orwellian terms "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". Last time I checked the United States was still a free country ... at least in theory.

truthteller December 20, 2013 | 11:32 PM

An unbiased account? Hardly- "He may be an old kook". Try looking up unbiased in the dictionary, Julie Sprankles, you moron, before you publish any more drivel. You should be ashamed of yourself.

karl rieck December 20, 2013 | 8:24 PM

Your survey choices are showing your bias.

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