The end of Phil Robertson’s Dynasty has nothing to do with free speech. Before we all get our panties in a wad, let’s start with some basic facts. The Duck Dynasty star did not get put on hiatus because he spoke an opinion that he felt homosexuality was a sin. That is simplifying the facts way too much. Phil Robertson was put on hiatus for saying this:
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. 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.”
It is probably very possible that part of the reason he was suspended was also because he said this:
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
But don’t just take my word for it. Read the whole article for yourself.
Now, back to those wadded up panties.
Before we all start screaming and shouting about Freedom of Speech, let’s look at the actual text of the First Amendment:
“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.”
What law did the Government make that caused Mr. Robertson to lose his job? None. The Government, the First Amendment, and Freedom of Speech do not apply here at all. Big, bad Barack Obama did not slap Phil on the wrist in this case, a privately owned company did. No one stopped Phil Robertson from saying the things he did. His rights were not infringed upon. And the company he works for was also within its rights to protect their image by taking action when he spoke in a way that they felt tarnished their network.
Character clauses exist with most contracts, and I have a feeling there was probably one in place here. Most companies have a code of conduct. This covers everything from dress codes to requesting days off. It most often will also cover conduct outside or away from the job. In my own job, we have rules about social media and the public image of the organization. I myself can be suspended or fired for something I say in a public forum. This does not in any way infringe on my rights. I am aware of the risk, and I know that the things I write and say could affect my job. If I choose to write something here in this blog that is restricted by my company, I must also be ready to face the consequences.
Phil Robertson’s rights have not been infringed upon, no matter what the usual group of alarmist will say about this situation. No one stopped him from saying what he did, and more importantly, no government body or law stood in his way. If you don’t like the way Phil was treated by A&E, you can boycott the network or write a blog of your own. You can even leave a reply here, but remember, I have the right to delete a comment if I feel it is inappropriate. And the people who run this website also have the right to edit or remove content that violates their terms of service.
None of these things violate the First Amendment or our Right to Free Speech.
The most powerful part of Free Speech, is knowing when not to say something even though you can.