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Phil Robertson’s Anti-Gay Comment, better known as The Duck Dynasty Controversy, refers to a controversial statement made by the star of the A&E reality TV series Duck Dynasty on the subject of homosexuality in a feature interview with GQ in December 2013.
On December 18th, 2013, GQ Magazine published an interview with Phil Robertson, a cast member of the A&E reality TV series Duck Dynasty and the head of his family-owned hunting supplies business Duck Commander, for the January 2014 print issue. In the interview, Robertson was quoted as stating that homosexuality is a “sin" and condemned gay relationships as unnatural and illogical, citing his devout commitment to the teachings of the Bible.
Out here in these woods, without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants. Maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality, and there’s no stopping them from rushing out. Like this one:
“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.”
What, in your mind, is sinful?
“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,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers--they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Suspension From A&E
On the same day, A&E announced that Robertson had been indefinitely suspended from Duck Dynasty due to the statements made in GQ.
“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 Wednesday. “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 on December 18th, A&E distributed a statement from Robertson, in which he defended his anti-gay statements as part of his Christian religious faith:
“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 women and men 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.”
A&E Boycott Campaign
Also on December 18th, a Facebook page titled “Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson Is Put Back On Duck Dynasty” was launched, gathering upwards of 1.5 million likes in the first 48 hours.
“This page is to show support for the freedom of speech of Americans. Unless Phil is reinstated to the show, we refuse to watch the A&E Channel!”
On December 19th, CBS Houston published an article about the Facebook campaign, which quoted the administrator who claimed he had been temporarily banned due to the page gaining 4,500 likes in one hour.
On December 18th, former Alaskan governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin tweeted about the suspension, claiming that it was an affront to freedom of speech.
Free speech is endangered species; those "intolerants" hatin' & taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) December 19, 2013
On December 19th, several image macros commenting on the controversy reached the front page of /r/AdviceAnimals, including Captain Hindsight (shown below, left), Everyone Loses Their Minds (shown below, middle) and Actual Advice Mallard (shown below, right).
Also on December 19th, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart mocked Fox News’ coverage of the controversy in comparison to its “War on Christmas” reporting (shown below).
On December 27th, A&E announced in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that Phil Robertson would be reinstated as a cast member in Duck Dynasty:
“So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family. We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.”
Following the announcement, the LGBT rights group GLAAD issued a reaction condemning A&E for lifting the suspension:
“Phil Robertson should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists. If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A+E has chosen profits over African American and gay people – especially its employees and viewers.”
The same day, the Christian religious organization Faith Driven Consumer published a blog post on their affiliated Phil Robertson fan site IStandWithPhil applauding A&E for reversing its decision to suspend Robertson but questioned the television channel’s true intent.