I wasn’t going to say anything about the current froth-du-jour among the rightwing in America (and all over social media), the one about stupid things said by some guy I’ve never heard of who’s on some reality TV show I’ve never seen on a cable channel we don’t get. When the story first broke, I understandably couldn’t possibly have cared less. But then the hordes of stupidity began their march.
The issue was never about “free speech” and even less about freedom of religion. The thing is, if you say bigoted things, claiming it’s religious belief doesn’t make it any less bigoted. That annoying fact was entirely lost on the Stupidity Brigade. Maybe they just ignored it because it was an inconvenient contradiction of their imaginary persecution.
The duck guy is a raging bigot, not some nice guy who happens to have bigoted views. Because, as Josh Barro pointed out Business Insider, when people defend duck guy, “Here's What You're Really Defending”: Racism, bizarre xenophobia and vicious anti-gay bigotry. And Jeremy Hooper has posted even more bigoted statements by duck guy. It’s certain that more will be found.
I don’t know any true Christians who believe the crap spouted by duck guy, so I don’t know why any would try and justify his bigotry by claiming it’s a religious viewpoint. What he said was nuts, not religious doctrine.
But there’s something about this whole thing that smells fishy to me. A&E hired a guy whose whole shtick is to perform as a bigoted redneck, then the network is supposedly surprised when he says bigoted redneck things. They made him sign a contract to not bring the network—or the merchandise tied to it—into disrepute. When duck guy said milder versions of the anti-gay and racist bigotry he’s said before, they “suspended” him for violating the contract he’d signed.
A&E got to look concerned, got to be seen as upholding their supposedly inclusive values and standing up to bigotry. The far right in the US was, as they so easily are, in full spittle-flecked rage at “homofascists” and “the gaystapo” that, they screamed, were “trampling the First Amendment” (which was never at issue, though they don’t understand that fact) and “attempting to silence Christians” (by which they meant only the narrowest possible definition of “Christian”).
A&E knew that the Stupidity Brigade would stampede to Wal-Mart to buy branded merchandise to “support” duck guy, making even more money for A&E. So, they got to have it both ways: They gambled that when they inevitably reinstated their duck performer—as I believe they always intended to do—LGBT people would be angry but move on. Notice that the suspension had no specified time limit and, more tellingly, they never fired duck guy—the frothing Stupidity Brigade never moves on from any of their imaginary insults. A&E knows all that. They decided they’re quite happy to make millions by promoting racist and anti-LGBT bigotry and to pretend to to abhor both. Clearly, they don’t—not when there's money to be made!
Writing on Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices”, Michelangelo Signorile said:
“Challenging homophobia and racism is not just about ‘rights’ and ‘winning’ in courtrooms and legislatures. It's about what culture promotes and what's acceptable to make money on—what bigotry is clearly able to be marketed and sold to the masses who've been fed this crap for decades.”The whole media circus riled-up the anti-LGBT bigots in the USA as nothing has since their eat-in at that chicken joint last year to “support” the anti-gay political positions of the company’s CEO. Not coincidentally, an anti-gay teabagger group announced another day at the chicken joint to somehow show “support” for duck guy. Clearly giving money to a notoriously anti-gay company is all it takes to show support.
The fact is, this whole thing was never really about free speech or religious freedom, but instead it was only ever about publicly hating LGBT people and feeling proud and justified in doing so. I don’t give a duck’s crap about duck guy, whether he’s really a redneck or what his religious views really are. What I care about is that a company makes millions by trading on bigotry and hatred and thinks that’s okay, and that so many Americans—who may be otherwise good and decent people—think that justifying bigotry by saying it’s religious belief is okay. Neither of them are okay. Ever.
This time, there were no responsible people to clean up the duck crap. How many young LGBT kids will hear all the duck crap splattered around by the frothing rightwing and think there's no hope for them to ever find happiness in a world filled with so much hatred? How many LGBT kids will kill themselves because of the extremist bigotry this circus unleashed? How many gay kids will be thrown out of their homes by parents newly emboldened and feeling not only free, but downright justified in using their supposed religious beliefs as a good excuse for sending their children out onto the streets to fend for themselves? Duck guy, A&E and their fellow bigots in the Stupidity Brigade will have blood on their hands because of this. Again. And that, too, is never okay and it is NEVER about "religious freedom".
The bottom line for me is simple: When it becomes legal to fire someone in more than half of the US states for being Christian, as it’s legal to fire someone for being gay, or when Christians are allowed to marry in only one-third of states, when Christians are routinely beaten in the streets or murdered simply for being Christian, when Christians are always called all sorts of vile names by people on television and radio and when TV news shows always ask paid anti-Christian activists to comment on whether Christians should be allowed any civil or human rights, THEN I’ll listen to the folks who claim Christians are being “oppressed” in America. THEN we can talk about how Christians need to be given more “tolerance” and how their “freedom” is being “denied” to them. But unless that ever happens—and it can’t when they’re in the majority!—then what I say to all the folks in the Stupidity Brigade—and A&E, too—is simple: Duck off!
And now you know why I really didn’t want to say anything about this whole stupid story.