Phil vs A&E: The dollars, it’s always the dollars.

duck-huntingEditors note: This draft was written on Christmas Eve 2013. A house full of sick kids and adults and other circumstances has delayed its posting. The original title, Makin Me a Believer, still holds true. In the end though it came down to dollars, always the dollars, for both parties. A&E awoke from their coma of stupid and “ended” the suspension of Phil Robertson.

So aggrieved was Phil at the violation of his freedom of speech by the communist network A&E, when they asked him to come back Phil said “OK.” (not an exact quote)  And don’t think for a second A&E came to him empty handed. College football coaches get millions in contract extensions just for thinking about a job opening at another school. Networks were probably lining up to get Duck Dynasty on their air when A&E stupidly cow-towed to an interest group that doesn’t even watch the show. In reality (jokes are free), reality stars don’t make a ton on their bottom line, per episode, contract. It’s all the after market stuff that nets them the serious dough. But I’m guessing A&E paid a few shekels to keep the Duck guys on their network. And why shouldn’t they. Stupid has consequences. 

As you read the original post you’ll see I talk about Phil not being in it for the money. I still think that’s true. His motivation is different now compared to when he turned down potential for millions in the NFL in ’68’. He has kids, he has grandchildren now. None of that was true when he made Terry Bradshaw a star. So I still believe Phil, at 67 years old, isn’t motivated by money for himself, but for adding to the security of his family. Who the hell can argue with that. 

To his credit, and the thrust of the original post below, Phil has not apologized for his beliefs. And he should not. I don’t agree with them, but so what. If you have to run around apologizing for your beliefs every time you give an interview then guess what my friend, you don’t have beliefs, you have brand building sound bites. And the free market will take care of that one way or the other; a lesson A&E  and Cracker Barrel learned the hardest way possible.

So here is the original post. Enjoy.

Makin Me a Believer.

Man we are really wringing the juice out of this peel.

No matter, it’s good stuff. And that damn Phil, he’ll grow on ya. I had absolutely no care in the world over what happened to him. I have never watched the show, had no desire to watch it. I can’t stand Cracker Barrel. I knew his 1st amendment rights weren’t violated and his free speech really wasn’t.

How do I know that? He’s still speaking publicly and saying what he said before. No one has barred him from speaking, ever. No one has stopped him from thinking and believing what he thought and believed before.  All A&E did, besides shoot their own foot off, was tell him you can’t say that on our network. That’s it. No rights, real or imagined, violated.

Plus A&E may have said that, but they aren’t doing that. My guess is you won’t see one episode of Duck Dynasty without Phil in it on A&E or elsewhere. All they really did was make Phil a free agent. Has to be a few networks lining up to get the highest rated non-fiction show on cable, ever. That includes news networks like Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Although the podcast Tony and I do rates on par with MSNBC. We’re coming for you Blitzer!

More to the point, it has been interesting to watch how Phil handled himself this past week. All he did was prove why he has such a fan base. Look, you don’t have to agree with what he said, but you can’t tell me you’re not impressed that he has not offered up an apology or cowered to some special interest group. He has stuck to his statements, not run from them. He has proven, in my mind at least, that this was not a ratings boost to sell more Duck Commander merchandise at Christmas. The guy actually believes these things.

True believers are easy to spot these days. What do they do when the heat goes all the way up? They don’t apologize for thinking what they think and saying what they believe.

Politicians turn and run the minute what they say will cost them a big enough block of votes it might lose them their job in the government. Actors and athletes and famous people all back down when it hits them in the wallet or the ratings or some executives or agents tell them to apologize. Phil didn’t do any of that. He’s not controlled or influenced by any of that. Look at his history.

Is that Phil Robertson? Might have been.

Is that Phil Robertson? Might have been.

Phil Robertson was the starting QB at Louisiana Tech. Terry Bradshaw was his backup. Phil was going probable #1 in the draft that year, 1968. Not the millions we see today but in adjusted money it was great living. Phil walked away from it. He wanted to hunt and fish instead, and the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Terry Bradshaw 2 years later and went on to win 4 super bowls.

Money has no influence over this guy. He has a lot of it now, but he had none coming out of college and he walked away from a boat load of it by 1960’s standards. His contract would have been in the 60,000 range. To put that in some perspective, NFL veterans were making 35,000. Rookies as Phil would have been made no more than 9,000. Only Joe Namath made 6 figures then, playing for the Jets in the AFL. Wayne Gretzky signed an NHL contract for 1.2 million in 1989, some 20 years after Phil walked away from football. That wasn’t even Gretzky’s first contract. That was the money he got from the LA Kings to leave Edmonton. He was already The Great One in ’89’.

  When Paul Harvey confronted Robertson with a recruitment to play professionally for the Washington Redskins, he declined because football conflicted with his hunting. Besides, football was only about holding up his scholarship to him, while Bradshaw practically lived and breathed the sport. Robertson put it in this way: “Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks.”

Phil just spoke publicly for the first time since the whole deal started. In his church, during Sunday school. The guy is true and faithful to his beliefs.

Disagree with him if you want, but don’t question Phil’s sincerity and honesty. I firmly believe he really wasn’t trying to hurt people, he just stated his beliefs when asked.

If you’re not impressed by this guy’s fortitude, you’re just lying to yourself. I’m a proponent of same sex marriage and I’m not ready to vote Phil for president, but I’m impressed by the guy.

The members of GLADD want Phil to sit down with same sex couples and homosexual members of his community so he can get a better understanding. Maybe GLADD should heed their own advice and sit down with Phil for a day or two.

Duck Dynasty and the 1st Amendment: Why everyone is wrong.

The_First_Amendment_does_not_cover_burping.Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If you read that carefully you should notice two things. First: The framers of the constitution clearly laid the ground work for the holiday of Festivus. Read the last part of the last sentence. It’s obvious to me they were giving a wink and a nod to the “Airing of Grievances”, the third pillar of Festivus after putting up the Festivus Pole, and the Feats of Strength.

Second and more important by a little bit; freedom of speech can only be inhibited by the government. In other words you only have the right to be protected from the government for the things you say. You have no right to keep your job if you say things your employer does not like, or in the case of Robertson, violate your contract as a reality actor in a reality series.  You still have the right to say them, but your employer has the right to terminate you for it. You see, your employer has the right to free speech and expression just as much as the individual. If they believe what you say or do, at work or not, hurts their brand or their bottom line, they are absolutely within their rights to terminate you for it. A&E is a private, free market, capitalist business. This is how it works.

Now does that mean A&E had the right to suspend Robertson for what he said and believes about homosexuality, and a host of other sins? Yes, they absolutely do have that right.

But being right and doing right are completely different things.

My podcast partner Tony Hupp already scribed a good piece on Robertson being suspended for his beliefs and the wrongness of that. Read it here: Duck Dynasty. I agree with Tony on this. I’m not a fan of slippery slope arguments but this feels like a bad one to me. Do we really want free people to be afraid to express their opinion or their faith, no matter how blunt and in-artful Robertson did?

So was A&E right to suspend Robertson for what he believes? I don’t think so.

But look at the result. Because they suspended him, their ratings are skyrocketing, and that’s from ratings that were obnoxiously high to begin with. A&E plans a Duck Dynasty marathon this weekend, all episodes have Robertson in it. All new episodes already taped will air next year. Robertson is in those as well.

Free market capitalism my friends, embrace the whore-ness.

You want to worry about free speech as it pertains to the 1st amendment, read stuff that really matters.

Those links are three issues occurring in our country that will get no publicity. Why? Because everyone is crying “free speech” over a guy on TV who thinks homosexuality is a sin and likens it to bestiality but gets rich making duck calls that essentially allows hunters to trick ducks into having sex with them so the hunters can shoot them. (got that last part on twitter, can’t remember who specifically, but it’s some one else’s line and a great one)

Those three issues, in Washington State, Denver, and New Mexico, those are first amendment issues.

I hope you read those three stories. Here is the synopsis: Under court order those three businesses are being FORCED TO PERFORM A SERVICE AGAINST THEIR WILL THAT VIOLATES THIER RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.

You know where I got the Denver story, from Al Jazeera America. Yes that Al Jazeera, the Muslim news organization opened a branch here in America. They are following the bakery story in Denver.

I can’t turn on home shopping network without seeing a story about that bearded redneck being “suspended” but I have to go to AL Jazeera to read about Americans being forced by a court to do something against their religious beliefs.

Don’t cry about the 1st amendment for Robertson. It absolutely does not apply.

Howl with your hair on fire over the court rulings in Washington, Denver, and New Mexico. The 1st amendment was just nullified.

It was done right under your Duck Calling noses.

Duck, dynasty

mandarin duck

Is this duck gay? If it is, can I still shoot it?

I don’t watch Duck Dynasty. I watched it once or twice, and I understand why it would entertain people, but it’s not my cup of tea.

Since everyone’s offering their opinion, I’ll offer mine.

Even though I think the basic facts of this situation are different from some others, this should come as no surprise to anyone.  This kind of thing has been happening for a while. The difference in this situation is that Robertson wasn’t fired just for what he said. He was fired for what he believes, and stating those beliefs in a magazine article. What he has been ‘suspended’ for was not anything that happened on the show. He was fired for his religious beliefs.

He didn’t utter any homosexual slurs. He didn’t call anyone any names. He stated his opinion on homosexuality. He said he didn’t understand homosexuality and that he believed it was a sin. Perhaps awkwardly, bluntly, but that’s what he did. Robertson comes from a deeply religious background.  So, A&E has fired a person for what they believe. He was fired for saying he didn’t agree with the homosexual lifestyle. I have no doubt that A&E must have already known how Robertson felt about this issue. He didn’t arrive at these opinions recently.

It was a magazine article in GQ. The comments he made that got him suspended from his own show are but a small part of the context.  It just seems crazy he was suspended for something he said in a magazine article. He went on to describe other things that he considered sin as well: adulterers, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers. You should read it if you haven’t. I did and came away with a different perspective. Here it is:

People will say A&E has the right to do what they want. Sure. Wait until you get fired for something you say. Not something you say at work.

These actions come from the people that are really open-minded. As long as you agree with them.

This isn’t just about free speech. This is about trying to tell people how they should feel about something, what they should value and what their religious beliefs should be. People should be pissed. People should have been pissed a long time ago over political correctness and social agendas run amuck. The Robertson’s should take their show somewhere else.

I mean, after all, A&E, you have so many other quality shows, shows like:

  • Storage wars
  • Storage wars: New York
  • Storage wars: Texas
  • Shipping wars
  • Parking wars
  • Bad Ink
  • Barter Kings
  • American Hogger

In the meantime, actress Jennifer Lawrence wants to outlaw the word “fat” on TV.

Oh. Goodness.