Sorry, Duck Dynasty, That’s How Capitalism Works

Duck calls and home-spun “wisdom” are big business. But you can’t sell stereotypes to a country that’s not buying played-out ideas about blacks and gays.

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Willie Robertson, Korie Robertson, Phil Robertson, Kay Robertson and Si Robertson of Duck Dynasty

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

It’s not exactly a shock that Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson is embracing his inner homophobe.

After all, he’s a self-proclaimed “Bible-thumper” who sees his hit reality-TV series as a vehicle for delivering “the good news about Jesus” to folks, “whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists.”

So when he emptied both his barrels in the pages of next month’s GQ—smearing gays and condescending to African Americans—I wasn’t all that surprised and didn’t give it much thought, because life somehow goes on, even when the world’s most famous duck-call purveyor shows his ass in the pages of a national men’s magazine.

And the lesson that Robertson learned this week is that if you feel free enough to describe “pre-welfare” black folks as “singing and happy,” and you lump same-sex love in with “bestiality,” then your network, A&E, and your audience might feel free to put you on “indefinite hiatus.”

Which is, of course, how the free market works.

Prime-time TV isn’t a public-access community bulletin board, and Robertson’s not out there doing this stuff for free—and once his folksy wit took a turn for the ignorant, A&E did what it had to do to protect itself from advertisers who want stay on the good foot with a diverse customer base. 

What’s strange, though, is that a lot of Robertson’s conservative defenders don’t see it that way.

In response to A&E putting the show on hold, Sarah Palin told her Facebook fans that "Free speech is an endangered species” and that the Duck Dynasty haters “are taking on all of us."

Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, who is Robertson’s home-state governor, accused the “politically correct crowd” of being “tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with,” while adding that he could remember a time “when TV networks believed in the First Amendment.”

Sen. Ted Cruz called out the media “thought police” who were “censoring” Robertson’s views, and that “If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the treatment of Phil Robertson."

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