This morning as I did my regular run and workout I was thinking about the real issue surrounding Phil Robertson. Too many are focused on the words spoken, but there are some deeper issues to ponder. For me, the prevailing issue is centered around one word: “rights.”
Phil Robertson is a born-again Christian and I’m quite sure the executives at A&E knew that from the get go. Phil was paraphrasing the following:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (New International Version)
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The unalienable right from our Creator that Phil has is his “pursuit of happiness” and Mr. Robertson defines that as his Christian faith — that is his right.
Furthermore, as codified in our US Constitution, Phil has the rights of free speech, freedom of religion, and the free exercise of religion. It’s funny to me that some believe American freedom of expression includes burning our beloved flag, but I guess Phil’s is not tolerated.
Which brings up another key point, who is the guardian of tolerance? Who sits back and defines what is or is not to be tolerated? There is a theocratic-political totalitarian ideology that operates freely in America — and across the world — that executes those who engage in same-sex relationships. But I don’t hear too much complaint against them. Did Phil take it too far using some crude language? Maybe, but then again, that’s his image, a simple straight talking American man, and it seems A&E loves it when it’s making them money.
A&E is Phil Robertson’s employer. I don’t know what his specific contract states, but A&E is economically profiting from the Christian faith and the subsequent popularity of Phil Robertson and the “Duck Dynasty” trademark enterprise — it goes way beyond just a show.
A&E has their own brand and as a private sector employer they have the right to hire and fire as they choose, albeit in this case it seems they’ve overreacted and are suffering the consequences. It has to be a matter of concern for all of us in America when special interest groups believe they can bring pressure and punish organizations due to their “dislikes.” How far could this aspect of censorship go?
Should A&E have suspended Phil Robertson? My assessment is no. Should A&E have had a chat with Phil before the GQ interview and discussed their concerns? Yes. Does A&E have the right to prevent Phil from doing interviews? Depends on the parameters of his contract.
The third component to analyze is the pressure from gay advocacy special interest groups. Last night on “The Kelly File” on Fox, a gentleman representing GLAAD stated that “Phil Robertson wanted freedom from consequence.”
Oh come on. These groups want freedom from any dissenting views. This is the danger in America when we start to grant “rights” to groups based upon behavioral choices. I often wonder, what if you choose to be bisexual? Do you lose half of your gay rights or only get part of your straight rights?
Every American has the right to the “pursuit of happiness.” If your “pursuit of happiness” means a same-sex relationship, very well.
But we must not then seek to redefine all other aspects of established societal norms just to appease. There should be no discrimination based upon sexual preference, but then again, there shouldn’t be any preferential discrimination against those who disagree. Case in point — the lawsuit against the New Mexico couple who refused to photograph a same-sex marriage because it was not in concert with their faith.
And no, I don’t see this as a civil rights struggle such as that for women (gender) or for blacks (race), or other ethnicity. Gender, race and ethnicity are not lifestyles.
Do two people of the same sex have the right to love each other? Absolutely. Do they have the right to force me to agree with it? No. Do they have the right to not be discriminated against? Yes. Do they have the right to advocate for additional rights because of a preferential choice? No, and what more rights do you require? Do they have the right to redefine other established aspects of our society? Let the people decide — but we should not have special interest groups run to the courts to overrule the referendum of the people, as with California and Proposition 8.
We must be very circumspect about understanding what is a right and what is a privilege in America. Politicians will collectivize us and use the word “rights” to manipulate us for their own personal gain. Right to own a home? Right to healthcare? Just remember the words of President Thomas Jefferson, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is also big enough to take it all away.”
Phil Robertson has the “right” to speak his mind based upon his personal beliefs. People don’t have to like it but to leverage pressure to affect someone’s life and liberty based upon their pursuit of happiness is not in concert with our American values. And let’s be honest here, GQ knew exactly what it was doing and sought a certain response to please the intolerant left. It has horribly backfired — just like the attack against Chick-fil-A. Phil Robertson is an even greater American Icon.
So for the record, I’ll give you my stance, plain and simple and why I stand with Phil. For me, homosexuality is a sin, because I executed my individual right to choose Christianity as my faith. There are other things that are sinful for me as well. I am far from perfect, I’m just trying to live a Christ-like life as a flawed human being.
The great thing about America is that we all have free will, so if you choose not to follow the precepts of a Christian faith, you are free to live as you wish. I do not condemn you, as a matter of fact, I gave 22 years of my life to protect your “pursuit of happiness,” but as I respect your individual right, I ask you to respect mine — and that is the essence of coexistence.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com.