I was part of an interesting dialog about Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty a couple of days ago.
And by the way…I’ve never watched the show. I doubt I ever will. Nothing against Duck Dynasty, or A. & E. I don’t watch anything. I probably watch about an hour of television a month, and that’s usually football or some other sport. Just not where I put my attention.
But what I read about the Duck Dynasty controversy struck a nerve. So this is what I said…
I have worked with many gay teens throughout the years, and they are disproportionately the victims of bullying and harassment. The suicide rate of gay teens is much higher than that of straight. So I am 100% in favor of anything that helps them feel accepted and empowered.
That said, padding the corners of their lives and making it so that anyone with a dissenting opinion is not heard is the absolute WORST thing you can do. It’s no different than never letting someone be exposed to germs so they don’t build up an immunity to illness. We live in a pluralistic society and to keep gays away from dissenting opinions and respectful dialog – and even disrespectful – is just as unhealthy as allowing them to live in a bubble.
I would like GLAAD to give people a chance to voice their own opinions. And I would really like the millions of gays who have no political agenda other than to live in peace not have their lives turned into a spectator sport. Protect gay rights when they need protecting, not to suit your political agenda.
That’s about as political as I get. I don’t carry water for any party, or any candidate, or any movement for that matter. If there’s something that’s important to me, I talk about it.
And because I really have seen gay kids not know how to deal with criticism in a healthy way, I spoke up.
Here’s one of the responses I got, from Angela W.
It is not right to have anyone silenced, but injustice to those in the minority will not stop if those of us in the majority stay silent.
And my response…
No argument about that, Angela. But in this case I haven’t seen the injustice.
Because I didn’t. I saw a guy giving his opinion. And I saw it in a news story about the show, not the show itself.
If you are speaking about the events of the past couple of days, I would say that Mr. Robertson’s comments came from a place of ignorance. Being gay and gay rights has very little to do with who an individual is having sex with. In Mr. Robertson’s case he sums it up to a man preferring a certain part of the male anatomy to the female anatomy. Ignorance leads to discrimination and injustice. For the company to simply stand back and do nothing is an injustice.
That wound me up a bit…
I disagree with the fundamental principle of that statement, Angela. Ignorance may lead to injustice, but it by itself is NOT injustice. When you punish someone for thoughts and words rather than actions, that’s not only injustice, it’s unAmerican.
Counterpoint to the ignorance claim…why are Mr. Robertson’s views less valid than yours? I don’t see anything that espouses hate or incites anyone to violence. What’s punishable?
Step back a moment. I don’t have a problem with anyone who is gay, or being gay itself for that matter. I also don’t have a problem with anyone thinking that being gay is sinful behavior and that people who engage in gay sex are going to hell. It’s their belief, and it’s no less valid than mine.
I do have a problem with people violating the rights of others who just want to live out their lives. That goes for both sides of this issue. But it’s been more of a problem for kids who are sneered at, discriminated against, and sometimes tortured and murdered because they are gay.
Angela wrote back…
I didn’t say that they were less valuable. What I tried to express was that he doesn’t have an understanding of the gay community or what they are their supporters are striving for. As for his being punished by his employer, I look at it similar to the contract I have with mine. If I conduct myself in a certain way both on and off the job, I can be disciplined, up to and including termination. It is a good possibility that he had something in his contract stating if he chose to speak of such issues to other media outlets, he could be disciplined. I don’t think he’s a bad person. I really think his PR people should have had the questions ahead of time, which they can get even on “live” TV, and had his answers carefully thought out.
That’s a whole different ballgame…
I agree with that, Angela. And personally, I disagree with his statement about gays. I think it’s mostly biological as it is with a certain percentage of animals in most species. And even if it were just lifestyle choice it wouldn’t matter, because it doesn’t infringe on my rights.
If it’s an issue between him and his employer, then I think that’s who should be discussing it. Otherwise I just leave it to a self correcting marketplace.
Then I got to the only important thing…
Most important point of all of this…I respect your opinion enough to welcome it on my wall…and respect you as a person.
And she went there with me…
I think what I was trying to get at is simply that he has many followers, and they share this same view. I think it’s up to persons like myself to say, no this isn’t what it’s about. It’s about my co-worker being able to display a picture of their spouse and kids like I can, without the fear of having their tires slashed in the parking garage.
If you honestly and truly believe that being gay – and acting on it – is a one way ticket to hell, then you make the commitment to spreading the word any way you can.
Looks to me that’s what Phil Robertson did. I respect that.
And I respect the fact that he did it from a place of love, not from a place of “bashing the queers,” which is what a lot of self-righteous, unenlightened, unGodly people tend to do.
And…if you love all people regardless of their sexual orientation, you do what you would do with your own kids…
Give them enough love to help them feel secure in themselves, and enough toughness so they can survive in a world that doesn’t care about how sensitive they are.
It always comes back to respect. And I’m glad it came back to it in my little corner of the world.
Your turn! Everyone has an opinion. What’s yours? If you are gay or the parent of someone who is gay, we are really interested in what you have to say. Please comment and share.