Judging by all the crazy right-wing Facebook posts after A&E suspended Phil Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about I say good for you!), it has become apparent there are many people who don’t understand that freedom of speech works both ways. You can say whatever you want, and anyone can say whatever they want in response. If you are criticized for comments you make, this criticism is not an infringement of your freedom of speech. And if the company you work for believes your comments are harmful to their business, they can suspend you or fire you unless they are explicitly doing so on religious or racial grounds. Sadly, they could legally fire you just for being gay or lesbian, but that’s for another day and another article.
Homophobia is not a religious view, it’s simply bigotry. Call it your religion, scream that you are being persecuted for it, but comments like those made by Phil Robertson are not immune to criticism because he claims it’s his religious beliefs. In fact, even “legitimate” religious views are not immune to criticism. Religion DOES NOT give you cover to be a bigot. He got called out on it, and rightfully so.
In the uproar over this incident, something else I’ve noticed is that many Christian conservatives believe it’s perfectly acceptable to express offensive views about a group of people as long as those views are labeled as religious. This is the cover that so many right-wing media types are using to defend Phil Robertson. But religious views do not exempt anyone from civility. When people are intolerant of people who they perceive as different (whatever the difference), that is the definition of bigotry. I don’t care if it’s your religion. You are still a bigot. But it’s as if some conservatives believe it’s a bigger crime to be labeled a bigot, than to be a bigot.
And don’t even get me started on the incredible hypocrisy of defending Phil Robertson on freedom of speech grounds. First, I already made it clear this isn’t a freedom of speech issue. Second, last time I checked there were’t many conservatives coming to the defense of Martin Bashir or Alec Baldwin.
And remember Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, when she exercised her freedom of speech in opposition to President Bush and war in Iraq? What did conservatives do to defend her freedom of speech? Oh that’s right, they were too busy, no time left over to break away from their epic display of sanctimonious grandstanding, burning and steamrolling Dixie Chicks albums on the sidewalk. So you can understand why they had little time left over to service a fraudulent viewpoint based on a litmus test.
Oh, and the best part has yet to come! Regardless of whether you agreed or not, what Natalie Maines did in exercising her free speech was to oppose a war, or in other words oppose death and destruction. What Phil Robertson did in exercising his free speech was to throw gays and lesbians under the humanitarian bus (to put it mildly). And which one of these freedom of speech displays did conservatives choose to defend? — Yes, it’s breathtaking.
I don’t have to respect intolerance even if it’s backed up by the Bible. And I don’t have to know anything about Christianity to call out bigotry. And not everyone is a Christian or even religious, so they don’t have to follow the rules set forth by a Christian on what is or isn’t bigotry. We are all capable of knowing right from wrong. I don’t get my sense of morality and ethics by being puppet to a master, and I don’t need to consult a book to know when someone is being a prejudiced asshole.
It’s highly unlikely you will find a Christian on this planet who follows every part of the Bible literally. So using the Bible as a defense for intolerance is perilous at best, particularly since most Christians are reading an English Bible, and last time I checked, the English language was unavailable for comment at the time of Gospel publishing.
And I love the sleight of hand invoked by Robertson when he said he doesn’t pass judgement, well, because only God can ultimately do that anyway. No, he did pass judgement, while covering it up with talk of love and God. This is how religion is used to perpetuate bigotry and intolerance. You don’t get a pass because you say you love the people you just offended.
And all you conservatives out there who still continue to support Robertson’s comments, you can save your reverse arguments for someone who cares to entertain them, because no, I’m not intolerant for calling out intolerance.