I have seen many questions as to the groundswell of support for Phil Robertson regarding his suspension from “Duck Dynasty” by A&E. Also there is wonderment as to why this reaction is stronger than those relating to Paula Deen and Martin Bashir.
There was a lot of support for Paula Deen, not as much as for Phil Robertson, but that speaks more toward his popularity. Martin Bashir went on a scripted hate filled speech against one person. He is relatively obscure however and reactions to him proportionately so. Phil Robertson, however, is very popular. Many people relate to him as his story is one of redemption with his quirky but close family and his compelling rags to riches life adding to his entertainment value. It is Phil’s discovery and adherence to his deep and abiding faith that raised him from the depths of a destructive lifestyle. This faith cultivated, guided and sustained this interesting family. Many people turn to his example as witness to what faith can do in their own lives. Moreover, “Duck Dynasty” is the only reality TV series that is banal and lighthearted. It does not attract with the titillation and licentious back stabbing and scandalous behavior at the core of all too many other reality
TV shows. It speaks to the positive nature of humanity where people can relate to the Robertson family’s core strength and goodness rather than feeling superior to the seemingly trainwrecked lives of a bunch of selfish/licentious baffoons on other shows. A&E caved to pressure from an intolerant group. That is their right as well as the right of other networks in their actions to remove Paula Deen and Martin Bashir. Phil Robertson just expressed an honest but admittedly coarse query based on the tenets of his faith to a baiting and cynical interviewer with GQ. People can clearly see that and many view it as an attempt by some to defile and defame a basically good man. People see this cynicism and the resultant actions of A&E and intolerance to personal belief as a portent of what they may face if they express a personal opinion or belief. This is why Phil Robertson has struck such a massive and resounding chord.
Phil did not attack any one person or group. In fact, if you read his interview in total, he reflects the same message as Pope Francis as not being one to judge. He admits that he himself is a sinner and that he loves everybody else because they are also sinners. This is the basis of tolerance, but it is obviously intolerable to some.
I dare say that “Duck Dynasty” may very well outlast A&E.