The 11th Commandment

After all of those Catechism classes I sat through and after absorbing all of the things the nuns and priests taught me, I suddenly realized that there should be an 11th Commandment.  It would read something like this “Thou shalt not be intolerant of thy neighbor’s beliefs”.   This occurred to me after watching and reading about Phil Robertson’s interview with GQ magazine and the ensuing firestorm.   You’ve all read the interview, or at least parts of it, by now, along with the fact that Phil was indefinitely suspended by A&E from future filming of Duck Dynasty.   I read the entire interview, then read it again, to see if I could figure out which of his statements were being construed as homophobic or racist or bigoted – and, in my opinion, what he said wasn’t any of those things.   His remarks may have been somewhat ignorant or politically incorrect but I didn’t read anything intentionally hateful.  Ignorance may be a poor excuse, but intent matters.

What Phil said was an opinion based on his beliefs – a Christian value viewpoint, based not on logic but on the teachings of The Bible.  The Bible is open to interpretation, of course, and much of what Phil had to say can be disputed among various Christian groups.   But he stated what he understood from it and in the way in which he was raised.   Pillorying him for it doesn’t sound like the type of country I thought we were.  Maybe I’m just not grasping how it’s okay for his critics to call him a stupid hillbilly for putting his faith in God, while choosing to ignore that he also stated that he just doesn’t understand how gays or blacks or Asians go about their lives, but that he, like God, loves them, too.   Maybe I’m not getting the part where someone can criticize another for their words but not be held accountable for calling someone a racist, homophobe and bigot without first taking the time to see the others perspective.

It really doesn’t matter what I or millions of other Duck Dynasty fans think, though.  A&E made their decision based on complaints from people who have probably never watched a single episode of the show.   Those folks got it into their heads that they knew all they needed to know about Phil and the entire Robertson family from that one interview.   They charged him, in the court of public opinion, with hate crimes, judged him and demanded that A&E sentence him faster than Nicholas Brody was hanged on Homeland.   So, if I have this right, the people who were upset by Phil’s generalizations and stereotypes, did the very same thing he did.  They jumped to conclusions and never took the time to understand his point of view.

It’s a funny society we live in these days.  It’s hard to say or write or show anything that isn’t going to offend someone, somehow, some way.   We tiptoe around our words as if we’re in a field of IEDs, hoping that what we choose to say or write isn’t the politically incorrect thing.   Even then, given the thin skins we’ve developed, we make mistakes, unintentionally, perhaps, but sure to raise the hackles of somebody.   Then we either defend what we didn’t realize we did or we retreat with an apology – an empty, meaningless apology, but some sort of mea culpa must be issued to quell the outrage.  From where I’m sitting, it sounds as if we just don’t know how to talk to each other anymore.   You can’t talk if you’re constantly wary of your words and afraid of offending the person you’re trying to have a discussion with.  We might as well just stop talking, turn on Fox News or MSNBC and isolate each other even more.  What the hell, the MSM helped drive this story into a nearly international incident, anyway.

Now before you come after me with torches or tar and feathers, I’ll just say that I’m not condoning or supporting Phil Robertson’s view, any more than I think Wilson Cruz of GLAAD had the best and final word.   They’re both a little wrong and a little right.  I also don’t expect them to apologize to one another.  They believe what they believe and they shouldn’t have to say they’re sorry for that.  What I would like to see, and I’m not sure it will never happen in my lifetime, is that all of these very disparate groups of people take the time to sit down and listen to one another – just listen, without prejudice or preconceived notions.

As for A&E, well, I think they jumped the gun.  Yes, they’re well within their rights to suspend anyone on their payroll, but I think they overreacted.  At the very least, they don’t understand their demographic.  The Duck Dynasty audience is, for the most part, made up of people who agree with Phil’s statements and beliefs.  You can judge them all you want, but it is what it is.  These are the people about whom then-Senator Obama said “are clinging to their guns and religion”.   Not a very tolerant or enlightened choice of words, to be sure, but he was talking about the millions of Americans who have the right to do just that – and they deserve the same respect and understanding as any of us.   A little more tolerance and a lot more listening can go a long way.


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20 Responses to The 11th Commandment

  1. Jeff Katz says:

    As always excellent insight!

  2. celi says:

    u said it oh so well,,a&e will lose the most,,,no show but dd ever had 12 to 14million viewers of realitiy,.I don’t think phil jumped the gun I think he was asked a q n they didn’t like his answer,now A&E WILL LIVE WITH THE BACKLASH,DEAL WITH THE CONSEQUENCE OF IT

  3. MelTheHound says:

    Very well stated, Empress 😀

    Somehow, I doubt ole Phil is sweating being ‘suspended’ by A&E.. I love the fact that his family has decided to stand by him. It demonstrates and serves to clarify what I have always thought about them.

    I remember as a kid hearing my Father telling us that one day our World as we know it will have thought police…we laughed at him and told him no way would that ever happen… never in his lifetime he said, but def in ours…. he explained that the day will come when you will no longer be permitted to have your own individual opinion or thoughts ..he told us to LISTEN carefully and always be observant of our surroundings…AND NEVER COMPROMISE OUR PRINCIPLES FOR THE MASSES…. stay true unto yourself….
    it just amazes me how his words have ” hauntingly” come back into play recently….. our carefree lives seem to escape us lately… no one talks with each other anymore..we talk AT each other…
    take me back to that time and place where we cared and loved people…appreciated their opinions, their differences and maybe even learned something along the way….sadly though, I believe those days are long gone…..

    The dirty windows

    There was once a woman who noticed her new neighbour hanging out her washing through her upstairs bedroom window. She commented to her husband: “Look at that woman’s washing, it is still dirty. I cannot believe that she does not even know how to do her laundry. Look how stained it is.” The next day she commented once again. “I cannot believe this woman is incapable of cleaning her laundry! How can such a stupid woman have moved to our neighbourhood?” These comments went on for a few days until one day she was surprised to see her neighbours washing was clean! “Finally” she said, “she has learnt how to clean her washing.” “ No” replied her husband, “I washed the window.”

    A wise man once said; “We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.” We are so quick to judge others but the judgment is often more a reflection on ourselves than it is on them.

    When we find ourselves criticizing, judging and complaining about others we need to look to ourselves and notice that we are all those things and more. The negativity we see in others is a reflection of the negativity in ourselves.

    When we can see the best in ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally we begin to see the best in others and unconditional love becomes our way of being. The eyes we look through become clean and truth is revealed.

    So let’s make sure our windows are clean and we see only the truth.

  5. kate kack says:

    A single interview? No ummm what about the even worse video that is making the rounds? Funny that people like Sarah Palin only have problem with it if it attacks their fear based belief system – her comments when Martin Bashir was let go from CNN for his comments about her were much different from her comments about this rube even though they are both free speech. So I am supposed to tolerant of INtolerant hateful comments coming out of this idiot’s mouth? Not likely.
    Those gay people and their insistence on being treated as equal human beings…the nerve.

  6. Bobbi says:

    Very well put, as always.

    I read an article today that surprised me. It has been obvious to me since this thing started that A&E had, at the very least, to be aware of this man’s feelings and attitudes. If they weren’t, they were derelict in their duty to vet someone before they gave them airtime. But, I kept wondering where the publicist was in this whole thing and why this interview even took place. Come to find out an A&E representative was there at the time of the interview. So this feigned outrage at his comments is completely bogus. They knew what he said. If they had been so upset about it, they could have requested it not be published or done something to lessen the impact. Makes you wonder what their motive was. This article presents a hypothesis that seems possible to me.

    • Hey bobbi, the whole thing seems a little disingenuous on the part of A&E. Maybe the network execs haven’t seen the last couple of minutes when the family prays before dinner. BTW, members of the Robertson family have also claimed that the name of Jesus has been edited out – you know, so no one’s offended.

  7. not THAT Jill says:

    Great blog Empress. I wonder about the whole A&E thing-did they suspend b/c of the heat or do they really feel that if they keep the show on people will think A&E supports Phil’s beliefs? I don’t look to any form of TV to help form my opinion on any group of people-I look at the people. Phil’s beliefs are just that-HIS. He wasn’t speaking for anyone but himself. He wasn’t telling us what to think and even if he was-so what? Phil doesn’t shape my opinion on gay people or black people or any people-he makes duck whistles. While it may be a lucrative business it’s not as if Phil is running our country. He is allowed to have his own opinion and he was asked to express it. I didn’t know that if we didn’t have the same beliefs that it makes us bigots, I thought it made us free.
    A&E’s fake shock of Phil’s statements are laughable-they knew who he was before this interview. The videos have been going around the internet for quite sometime-why the fake shock? I don’t understand that crap at all.

    • Hey Jill, it’s kind of amusing to witness A&E’s “fake shock”. Even funnier is the fact that they’ve scheduled several days of DD marathons beginning today – a little hay making while the sun shines, I guess. 😀
      I think they suspended Phil after complaints were made, which is a bad reason, imho – but I don’t care for censorship of any kind.

  8. Thank you Empress for tackling this irritating current event without rancor or getting into the whole freedom of speech vs religious persecution and the political hay being made over it.
    When an employee expresses a personal opinion, that is not shared by his/her employer, they usually are warned not to do so again. And if the employee continue to express personal opinions after being warned – they usually get fired. A&E didn’t shoot themselves in the foot or any other such nonsense – they are a business and they are being mindful of the entire employee base and the viewing population of their products.
    While everyone is entitled to their personal opinion on any subject under the sun and there are too many interpretations of the good book in question – maybe the aforementioned employee’s mother didn’t teach him one of those simple rules to live by. Which one? The one where if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all!!!

    • Windy, I get the impression that Phil takes his role as the Robertson patriarch very seriously. He’s probably used to saying whatever is on his mind and getting the response he wants from his family and employees, without argument. Now add a little fame to the mix and you’ve got a powder keg on your hands. Maybe this incident will teach him what his mama didn’t. 😉
      That lesson holds for all sides of this debate.

    my question is… if this was due to come out in JAN 2014… when did GLAAD get the copy…and when was it posted to the GQ website for everyone to read……

  10. Donna says:

    I late here, My feeling this incident was a mis-direct to hide something else. These Networks are Corporate owned. While everyone was chiming in NDAA passed with no publicity.

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