Phil Robertson has successfully exercised his freedom of speech in America. We should all cheer! Sure, GQ magazine probably wrote the interview in such a way as to add some extra duck fat to the fire, but, ultimately, Phil (of Duck Dynasty fame) got to speak his mind.
Many in the Christian online community are expressing indignation that A&E network has indefinitely suspended Robertson from their shows. I understand that we don’t like to be on the receiving end, as a community, of seeming intolerance, but maybe we can slow down for a moment.
A few months back, I was utterly concerned when the Attorney General of Washington State sued a florist when she declined to provide her services to a gay couple for their wedding, because it contravened her deeply held convictions. In New Mexico, similar meddlings are afoot. There are several things that bother me here:
- Flowers and photography and cakes are not inalienable human rights. Nor are they exclusive services. They can be purchased from other vendors, even online ones in many cases. For the government to weigh in and force people to provide services within settings that they find to be ethically objectionable is unnecessary and surely a sign of where our society could end up if this practice is not stopped. Nobody will be exempt in the end. Everyone has boundaries, and for every personal boundary there are people who want to cross it – and they won’t rest until you agree that that’s a good idea.
- Tolerance is no longer the peaceable dwelling together of people in spite of difference, but, instead, the militant sociopolitical march to make all people affirm all other people in all matters, whether they contradict one another or not. Unless, that is, you’re a Christian in opposition to something – then you should be ashamed of yourself. Tolerance is the new word for “unquestioning acceptance”, which is a deeply flawed re-definition. The ruling to allow marital cohabitation with non-married persons is just the start of the slippery slope. Lock up your children, folks, because the psychologists are coming for them next…
- Underneath it all is the dismissal of any concept of freedom of religion, practice and operation. Whatever our beliefs are, they must be put to the side so that nobody else could be offended or have their commercial, educational, institutional or societal choices limited. Little boys who are pretending to be little girls must be allowed to use the girls’ bathroom in school. Conservative Christian florists, bakers and photographers must reject their concept of marriage, sexuality and ethics to embrace alternative lifestyles by providing services to them. The Government will intervene if you dare to refuse.
These are things that are dangerous steps on the path to a restrictive and oppressive society. We aren’t there yet, but we are well on our way. And when we cry “unfair” at A&E and demand they bring back Phil Robertson for reasons that are anything more than personal desire or preference, then we are possibly employing an ideology that we ourselves do not want to live with. By all means, ask A&E to reconsider. The network was making a lot of money, and many Christians were enjoying the programming. You might be one of them and it is your right to let your voice be heard. But it is not your right that Phil be brought back. It is not Phil’s right to be on a TV show on A&E. The network is a business, making business decisions (for good or for bad) and they must have the right to refuse further employment, if by the same breath we want to be able to refuse the offer of our services to those of lifestyles we do not agree with.
We have the freedom to speak, but we are not free from consequences.