America is a terribly strange place. We live in an odd provincial vacuum that not only shuts out the news of the world, but renders it somehow irrelevant. South Sudan is crumbling into a civil war. In the past week over 500 people were killed during what government officials called a coup attempt. The North Koreans, upset over anti DPRK demonstrations south of the DMZ, used a fax machine to send the South Korean administration an angry threat of war. In London 75 people were nearly crushed to death when a theater fell apart. God only knows what is going on inside Egyptian prisons and on the ground in Syria at the moment.
Indeed, all manner of disasters, wars, famines, plagues, and massacres are besetting the population of the world. But, what are we obsessed with at this moment right here in the good old U.S. of A? Why, what a Louisiana hick named Phil Robertson thinks of buggery.
The outrage has reached fever pitch. Robertson, who founded the company, Duck Commander, and is one of the featured stars of a cable TV show whose popularity hinges on his family's redneck ways, explained his religious beliefs in an interview with the magazine, GQ. Those beliefs included an observation that compared homosexuality to bestiality, terrorism, and alcoholism--questioned why any man would prefer an anus over a vagina--and the certainty that when the USS Rapture sets sail, homosexuals will be left at the pier.
Representatives of the gay organization GLAAD immediately started screeching. The TV network, A&E, quickly suspended Robertson, desperately trying to distance management and advertisers from his folksy interpretation of Christianity.
Now all manner of right wing hacks, hopeless losers, and talking heads are howling about freedom of speech and religion. Louisiana's governor, Bobby Jindal claims he remembers a time when television used to believe in the first amendment, although he didn't actually give us any dates when the networks were down with that idea. Sarah Palin chimed in, because--well--she needs the exposure. Finally, Sean Hannity went on the air and in the ultimate act of bathroom graffiti gave out the phone numbers of A&E CEO, Abbe Raven and network president Nancy Dubuc.
At last look, over 100,000 people have signed an on line petition titled, IStandWithPhil. GLAAD official, Rich Ferraro was quoted as saying, "In the 5 1/2 years I've worked with GLAAD I've never received so many violently angry phone calls and social media posts attacking GLAAD for us speaking out against these comments."
In the midst of all this hysteria a video of a 2010 sermon delivered by Robertson has surfaced. In it he says, "Women with women, men with men, they've committed indecent acts with one another and they received in themselves their due penalties. They are full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God haters. They are faithless, they are ruthless, senseless. They invent ways of doing evil."
Yep, ol' Phil just about covered all the bases there.
He also sounded a little suspicious when he claimed he never witnessed any signs of racial discrimination in north west Louisiana when he was growing up in the 1950's and 60's and felt all the black people he saw were happy, happy, happy. According to him, "none of them were singin' the blues."
In the meantime Robertson's family issued a statement saying they couldn't imagine going forward with the show, "Duck Dynasty" without him. They added they were in negotiations about the future of the enterprise.
One thing which has gone unmentioned is, while A&E played the appalled liberal card and suspended Robertson indefinitely from future shows, as of last night anyway, they have been busily rerunning episodes which feature him slogging through the bayous and leading his family in pre dinner prayers.
It seems if you're a television network you can have it both ways, at least for the time being.
Yes, we're an odd lot here in the states. They only good thing you can probably say about us is that we have the attention span of a five year old in the throes of a sugar rush. All this nonsense will blow over quickly and then we'll be onto something else with equal anger and passion.
Luckily it is Friday and I'm scheduled for an appearance at a local sports bar in an hour or so. No, I won't be speaking, but I will be wrapped in cigar smoke and sipping a very dry martini.
Until then, Mr. Sulu you have the helm.