Friday, December 20, 2013

freedom of speech or not

First the disclaimers: I have never watched Duck Dynasty. In fact, I watch absolutely none of the so-called reality TV shows as I find the whole concept abominable. To me trying to say a camera can follow people around, edit film for content, and then say this is reality is an oxymoron. It's cheap to make, has created a whole new bunch of celebrities, and it caters to the worst in human natures-- egos out of control, desire to reveal all to get attention, and that's true whether it's rednecks or glamorous society matrons.


But what is happening now is a cultural issue that really does come home to a lot of Americans on either side of a pretty big divide. It goes along with all the talk of a war on Christmas when it's one of the hugest commercial events in our country bringing in money for manufacturers, stores, restaurants, charities, and in short essential to keeping those dollars flowing. Whether someone says happy holidays or merry Christmas, it's all about giving or greed-- depending on how you see it. The fact that it's a very pagan holiday, with little to do with the one behind what is called Christianity, is lost to those looking for someone to turn them into martyrs-- minus the lions, of course.

Now the latest controversy to make the so-called conservative and religious right feel persecuted relates to a cable TV show. For those few people who don't read the papers and have no clue what i am talking about, the 67-year old patriarch in the show Duck Dynasty was interviewed by a magazine and in answering questions said some very crude things about sex, homosexuality, then went on to cover the damage Civil Rights have done to blacks.

Nothing unexpected (well other than the Civil Rights) for a fundamentalist believer in Christianity. He is necessarily a believer in heaven and hell which means rewards and punishment, but he wasn't really saying what God will do regarding what he sees as sin which he apparently knows a lot about before he got religion. He did go into graphic detail as to why he thought women were better for sex than men which made some wonder how he knew. His statements regarding Civil Rights fit right in with the Rush Limbaugh wing of the Republican party.

A&E suspended him while they think it over. Now exactly what their thinking was is hard to say. They must know liberals aren't watching that show. Some segment of the 12 million Americans who are watching it are going nuts over this affront to freedom of speech (when the Dixie Chicks said they were ashamed that the president came from Texas, freedom of speech wasn't the issue-- it was stomping on their records and threatening their lives).  Irony is too small a word for what is going on now but hypocrisy sounds good for it.

Coincidentally or maybe not, the publicity for the show has been phenomenal right before it starts its new season with threats and screams of persecution coming out in articles and even more so with comments on the articles. You can't buy this kind of publicity although some of it seems a little threatening so it's hard to say if they purposely did it, but hey they had to know who this guy was and what he stood for in terms of everything but maybe the Civil Rights part.

So to start, here's a fact: freedom of speech has always had consequences. Alec Baldwin didn't do an interview, just got caught on camera with a gay slur and he was off MSNBC. Martin Bashir slurred Sarah Palin and he lost his show. It's cost a lot of people careers because with freedom of speech comes how others see it. That's just reality and part of responsibility to accept that even when I write something here. I mentioned the Dixie Chicks, but the far right has been boycotting whole long lists of people based on one thing-- what they said.

How righties will deal with a potential boycott, I don't know because if they boycott A&E, they can't watch Duck Dynasty; but maybe the family behind Duck Dynasty will try to take their show to Fox and I guess Glenn Beck wants them for his network Blaze, which who knows where that is but probably righties know.

Whether he should have been suspended is another question as that's an economic one for all these shows. Which hurts them more? I gather a lot of people from all groups were watching this show. From what I can tell from clips, which have come out since, the show never was appealing to the Friday at the opera crowd (I'm not in that bunch either) but rather to those who like to see rowdiness, things getting blown up, and four cool looking guys being big and rough with their religion thrown in to make it all seem righteous.

To me his comments about Civil Rights were damaging, common to the right for thinking, and mostly ignorant with no clue what went on beyond his own borders. How he could think blacks were better off in separate schools, kept out of certain restaurants and motels, forced to the back of the bus, not permitted to marry whites, kept out of better jobs, finding it hard to vote, that's a mystery. Jim Crow laws were really intended to protect them in his world view, I guess.

This guy obviously lives in a bubble that fits his beliefs and 12 million Americans were being influenced by his view or was it they already had it? The media is having a field day with it as expected and some of the right wing talking heads are using it to gain favor with those 12 million fans. Christians are feeling abused and persecuted. Nothing new in any of it as this is the divide that shows up time and again in our country.

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