The television show, “Duck Dynasty,” is unfamiliar to me. I do not subscribe to cable tv. So I am unfamiliar with the show’s premise and neither had I ever heard of its “patriarch.” But I am more than familiar with the hate speech that Phil Robertson spewed forth concerning “homosexuals.” Nothing he said is new to me. Indeed his vituperative comments are of the coarsest kind. He appears to be a hack for hatred. I have met individuals like him and on occasion, even asked them to leave my office. You would stand a better chance reasoning with a squirrel about why it insists on eating the seed in the bird-feeder than pointing out the obvious to a squirrelly muse of hatred who deludedly believes he is the patriarch of anything beyond the compound of his barbed wire ideology. In this case, efficient use of words coincides with a sufficient response: your hate speech is shameful and has nothing in common with Christ.
There are some who, like the current governor of Louisiana and the former governor of Alaska, take such sufficient response as an attack on free speech, thereby revealing two things of importance in regard to their grasp of such issues. They reveal first that they are clueless about free speech. Phil the Patriarch said what he pleased and unlike other bigots, got lots of media coverage, for having said it. But your freedom to spew hate speech does not oblige the rest of us to refrain from calling a duck a duck. This is where the twin governors are misguided. They believe a denunciation of hate speech is a denial of free speech when in fact, that denunciation is also free speech! No one is saying you can’t say these vile things. We’re just pointing out how vile and bigoted that speech is and further, that it should not be rewarded with a tv show and the adulation of anyone, much less politicians who were presumably elected to protect the civil rights of all their people. Which brings me to the second thing the governors revealed about themselves. They rushed to defend, not free speech, but hate speech. See my remarks above with regard to reasoning with squirrels. They rushed to defend hate speech, not free speech. The difference tells you all you need to know about their “core” values. Now this segues nicely into the final issue I wish to freely speak to: “biblical” religion or “biblical” values.
One of the most astonishing (and trite) strategies for denouncing an entire race of people is to say the bible tells you to do it. Apparently, Phil Robertson’s family asserted he is a “biblical” man. Again, let’s work for both an efficient and sufficient response. There is no such thing as “biblical.” The reason there is not is that the bible is made up of sixty-six books over a bout 1500 years. To use this term, biblical, is to suggest the bible speaks in one voice on all matters. It doesn’t. Just for fun, try reading some passages about pork while you’re chomping on some bacon. What these folks do is to naively assert (and at the same time, reveal how misguided they have been by clergy too afraid to challenge cultural constructs) that their bible is to be read a certain way. What does Patriarch Phil think of women voting, governing, speaking their minds, holding down jobs? what does he think of slavery? concubines? Sorry, but you just don’t get to use the bible as a weapon against people and ask the rest of us to pretend you don’t know what you’re doing. When you go to the bible, measure its narratives and especially its “values” by the Christ. Hey, Phil, do this: read First Corinthians chapter 13. It is very possible that you’ve only read it or heard it read at weddings. It is not about weddings. It is about God’s self-revelation as Love in Christ. Read it and then repent. Because Phil, the duck dynasty sounds like an awful, clanging cymbal. Let me put it another way: you’re a quack when it comes to interpreting the message of Christ. Hate speech will one day end. But faith, hope and love—these will endure and yes, Patriarch, the greatest of these is Love.