By Erin Schulz
There are already a lot of thoughts about this floating around in my Facebook newsfeed. If your friend demographic is anything like mine, you’ve seen posts violently defending Phil’s right to speak his mind and arguments pointing out that A&E’s decision doesn’t violate first amendment rights. There’s been plenty of arguing. The most moving arguments, to me, are based around faith. It doesn’t represent a caring, loving Christ to make these comments offhand. As this post: http://intheparlor.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/what-you-believe-about-homosexuality-doesnt-matter/ us, peoples’ lives are at stake. The compassionate thing to do is surrender some of your right to always express your own opinion in favor of giving a beloved child of God a hand at, you know, not dying.
But I don’t think A&E should have suspended Phil Robertson. Why?
The premise of Duck Dynasty makes me angry enough. I haven’t watched the show, so let me join a whole host of people expressing an opinion on something I have limited knowledge about. But I have lived in a rural, redneck community all my life, with the exception of the three and a half years I’ve spent at college. And I know that whether you like it or not, Phil’s views are representative of a lot of people’s.
Just because a view is representative doesn’t mean it needs to be spouted off, I know that. But what is A&E attempting to do with Duck Dynasty? I would love to have feedback on this from people who have seen the show. My feeling is that Duck Dynasty is cultural appropriation at best, and more likely an attempt to make a spectacle of redneck culture.
As I read the GQ article that set all this off, I recognized a lot of myself in the author. After spending time at an extremely liberal college in the Twin Cities, I have a sort of outsider view on my home culture. I welcome my returns home because I am finally able to see the stars again, because I’ll be able to walk in the back pastures and track deer, and because I am back to a family and community that gives generously.
I am also back to fighting with my brother about whether women deserve equal pay in the workplace. Racist jokes. Offhand anti-gay comments.
You are welcome to be a part of my community. You get the benefit of breathtaking beauty and satisfying hard work. But you cannot have this without facing the ugliness that’s also here. You do not get to turn on your televisions once a week and watch the mindless antics of men with bushy beards, but ignore the oppression that is still alive and well in these communities.
People need to know what Phil Robertson thinks about race, sex, and gender, because city people need to face the facts that there’s a whole different country in the pockets of earth where you didn’t build skyscrapers. It’s complex. It’s filled with kindness and love and deep, deep ignorance. Explicit racism and hate crimes are still real.
I don’t agree with what Phil said, but I’m not mad at him. Okay, maybe I am a little mad at him, in the frustrated way I am angry at my grandfather, or my neighbor. And I’m not upset that A&E considers this speech hateful and doesn’t want it representing their station. What I’m upset about is that A&E is trying to edit life and paint the picture that nothing is wrong in redneck America, when that is not true.