Let’s just get this out of the way up front. No, Phil Robertson was not suspended from A&E for his Christian faith. The Robertsons have been speaking loudly in public about their religious views for years. If A&E were on an anti-Christian witch hunt, they wouldn’t have hired the family to do the show in the first place, and they wouldn’t have kept them around for what will now be five years beginning with the season premiere in January.
There are lots of ways to express Christian beliefs, even restrictive sexual mores, without sounding like a brutish jerk. Instead of acting like an adult and having respect for how other people might receive his comments, Robertson chose to be “himself” and express his beliefs in the form of verbal diarrhea.
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” Phil told GQ. “Sin becomes fine.”
“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 continued, going on to paraphrase Corinthians, from the seventh book of the New Testament.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” Robertson added. “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 would Jesus do? He certainly wouldn’t be speaking flippantly about other people’s preferred sexual orifice. That’s what’s so offensive about positioning Robertson’s suspension as some new front in the War on Christianity™. Christ never even discussed homosexuality, let alone the biological details of such activity. Robertson wasn’t suspended for being Christ-like. Quite the opposite.
Even more frustratingly upside down is that the suspension is being called “tyranny” or “communism“. The Robertsons are on a private contract to film their show in a right-to-work state for a private broadcasting corporation. Phil Robertson made public comments that offended the sponsors and potential audience of that company, and the company made the decision to discipline their employee as is their right. This actually seems like the perfect example of the conservative micro-economic model in action. The invisible hand of the free market took action against Robertson, not some oppressive government or loss of free speech.
Some of the same people claiming personal victimhood today were screaming to the rafters demanding Alec Baldwin’s ouster after his very public use of gay slurs last month. MSNBC fired Baldwin. They also demanded action against Martin Bashir after his vile comments about Sarah Palin. MSNBC fired Bashir. There is no hypocrisy here…on the part of the networks. MSNBC’s hosts offended their viewers and sponsors, and they were fired. Now an A&E star has offended its sponsors and viewers, and it has similarly suspended the offender. There is actually a remarkable level of consistency here…at least on the part of the media.
Conservatives are also claiming the different treatment of Pope Francis and Phil Robertson in the media is a sign of hypocrisy, since both are Christians who oppose homosexuality.
Once again, this is exactly backward. The different treatment the two men receive should be enlightening, not mystifying to people. Pope Francis is a kind, generous, tolerant person, even about homosexuality, which he obviously views as a sin.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said in a wide-ranging news conference aboard the papal plane.
Robertson, on the other hand, chose to use his faith as a cudgel to insult and belittle people he views as living in sin. The two men are treated differently because they approach the subject differently, they treat other people differently. That’s why this has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with basic human decency. If Robertson had expressed his Christian views on homosexuality (which a dwindling minority of the country shares) in a respectful, tactful way instead of being a churlish buffoon, he would still have a job with A&E along with the rest of his family.