While I am certainly not defending what Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson said in GQ — I find his views on homosexuality, race, etc., absolutely disgusting — I do defend his right to say any idiotic thing he may believe.
And A&E absolutely has the right to suspend or fire him if they also find his views repugnant, but could this have really been a surprise to them? I find it very hard to imagine they were not already well aware of his beliefs. Judging by the earlier examples dug up to show the current statements are not aberrations, he has not exactly hidden them; so it seems likely A&E systematically edited these views out of the massive amount of raw footage they must shoot for the reality show. In which case, they are not suddenly waking up to the views of their star; they are responding to a crisis created by those views becoming widely known to the public. They are engaged in spin control.
As much as I abhor his views, I am very uncomfortable with those calling on A&E to fire him because of them. Yes, stop watching the show if you can no longer stand the sight of this homophobe, even organize a boycott, but if it’s okay for me to expect a network to fire a star, even a reality star who is — rightly or wrongly — assumed to be voicing his own views and not those scripted by someone else, whose views I find execrable, then it is also okay for someone with different views to expect a network to fire a star whose views I agree with.
Furthermore, if I were going to start choosing my viewing or listening by the values and/or behavior of the stars, writers, directors, singers, producers, etc., onscreen or off, I would have to research everyone involved with the pop culture I consume in order to fairly impose those standards across the board. And then I would have to look at the companies who distribute the culture and their corporate structures and connections. I doubt many could withstand that scrutiny.
Bringing this back to popular music, I’d have to throw out much of my collection if I started imposing a morals clause on any artist who has expressed values that do not conform with my own. Many of my favorite artists would have to go: in their songs and interviews, Lou Reed and David Bowie have both said many things over the years that have violated my standards. Even as I cringe at some of the things Kanye West says, I still buy each new album the day it comes out. I would have to stop listening to any rapper who continues to glorify the thug life he may or may not have actually lived. I’d certainly have to toss Eminem and Tyler the Creator, both of whom seem to be working through checklists of society’s standards to violate. Even the Beatles, now thought to be the standard of good taste, openly advocated drug use and violent revolution against the government.
But do we really want our pop culture to be PC? Instead, doesn’t pop culture, especially pop music, offer us a safe way to indulge in the non-PC attitudes and feelings we all sometimes have? Can’t shouting along with sketchy refrains like “beat on the brat with a baseball bat” actually be cathartic?