In general terms, seemingly no one has trouble rallying behind the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Get down to specifics, however, as in the particular words someone utters in exercising his free speech rights, and the story can and often does change.
Paula Deen, move over. Phil Robertson grabbed the nation's attention with his GQ magazine interview in which he shared his views about homosexuality and race relations.
Bear with us here. Those of you who think we are about to defend what Robertson said, that's not happening. Those of you who think we are about to call for Robertson's complete removal from the popular "Duck Dynasty" show, or even the cancellation of the show altogether, that's not happening either.
Robertson is a Louisiana man who, along with his family, became wealthy making duck calls before becoming TV icons splashed on T-shirts, koozies, pajamas and all sorts of paraphernalia promoting their A&E show watched by millions. The show, while not political, does make abundantly clear the family is steeped in its faith.
That the 67-year-old family patriarch believes gay people are sinners should have been no surprise to anyone watching the show. That this man from the deep South might not be in tune with the disparate treatment many blacks faced when and where he grew up — "Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. ... I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word!" — also should not be a big surprise to many.
No, the real surprise here is all the uproar about Robertson and the attention given to what he said. Again, this guy is a far-from-reality TV show star who makes duck calls. He is not — not — a candidate for president, a congressman or a senator.
Those who agree with Robertson — and our guess is a good many of his TV fans do — are free to do so. Those who do not are equally free to disagree. They're also free to quit watching "Duck Dynasty," if they ever watched it at all. They're even free to voice their opinions and try to sway his views.
But let's maintain perspective on such matters. Phil Robertson's views on homosexuality and race are not the makings of a national crisis. Again, he's not seeking elected office, nor is he currently in an elected position. He doesn't make or influence state or national policy any more than the Kardashians do. Yes, Robertson might be a bit of a quack to many, he might not toe the politically correct line, but the man was not inciting riot or promoting the overthrow of government.
People should move on and let Robertson's comments — well, roll off like water on a duck's back.