Friday, December 20, 2013


Phil Robertson, patriarch of the "Duck Dynasty" clan, whose lives are chronicled in the hit reality show on A&E, told GQ magazine that homosexuality is a sin. A&E suspended Phil immediately and indefinitely for that remark. People have been quick to jump on it as "hate speech" and "homophobic" and with other adjectives mainly serving to highlight their ignorance.

Because here's what Phil actually said:
“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical…Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
Let's break that down, shall we?.

First, Phil's heterosexual. He clearly expresses a personal opinion that a woman's vagina is more desirable to him. You don't like that? Then shut up, you damned dirty heterophobe. I say that because it is blatantly obvious that if someone else "has a phobia" when they simply don't agree with your life choices, you "have a phobia" when you don't agree with theirs. That's because you don't get any special treatment. None of us do. So you have to be painted with the brush you insisted on holding. And if it sounds stupid for you to be called a "heterophobe", remember that you sound no less stupid for using "homophobe". You see,. phobia means "fear". If what you're describing is not an actual fear, then you're using the wrong word. In fairness, if someone on whom a gender label is placed is within their rights to decry the evident illiteracy of those applying the label, then everyone else has that same right. Find another word, Left, because you sound like idiots every time you use it. You just do. But if your mind is a bit more open than that... if you're not just the equally-close-minded mirror-image of the people you're hating, keep reading. Otherwise you should leave now because I'm not going to spare your feelings.

Phil also says that he thinks it's logical that a man should be attracted to a woman. Well, logically speaking that's pretty unassailable. Males and females come together to procreate. In nature, that's pretty much the way it has worked among creatures since the invention of sex. Natural offspring most certainly counts as "more to offer", even when we take into account that this is clearly labeled as his personal preference. However, logic has very little to do with love, let alone sin. And this statement has nothing to do with the hyper-punctilious sophistry of gender identification. If you say that everyone has a right to love whomever they want, then I will agree with you entirely... but that's with the understanding that erotic attraction is in no way "logical" under any circumstances.

"Kirsten", in her blog, "Rage Against the Minivan", writes,

"To reduce a person’s sexuality to an oversimplified and graphic question of where to put the penis is dismissive and homophobic. Even most conservative Christians believe that same-sex sexual attraction is not a sin in and of itself. But Phil depicts gay people as deviant, and that’s a big problem. And if his words above represent “Christian values” then we need to have another look at Jesus." 
Well, YES. Actually, you should. Because they do represent "Christian values", though people like Kirsten misunderstand both the statement Phil made and the values they represent.

Christians are commanded to love one another. That commandment makes no distinction between men, women, young or old.  It is independent of sexuality, nationality, and color. In ancient Greek, language of the New Testament itself, the difference between love and sex is quite clear, as there are different words to communicate these concepts (agape, eros, filios, and storge -- see definitions), all of which unfortunately wind up being translated to "love" in modern English. As with many who kibbitz on Christianity, Kirsten makes the mistake of confusing love with sexuality and fails to show an understanding of the distinction. Christians are commanded to love not just some people, and they're not advised that they may love who they wish... they are commanded to love everyone. Matthew 5:44 says to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Obviously, you aren't required to agree with or even like the people you love.

Clearly, what we're talking about with regard to sexuality has nothing to do with "love" as expressed in the Bible, It's not spiritual (agape), or familial (philos) or mere affection (storge), as Christians are expected to hold all of these without distinction. It boils down to eros... plainly defined as "romantic, pure emotion without the balance of logic." In short, the point that Phil's making IS a matter of where you put your penis, and he's completely right to say it's not logical.

It IS true that whether or not homosexuality is regarded as a sin depends on your denomination. There's a broad spectrum of thought, and here's a link to help sort them out. However, even those who claim that the New Testament doesn't condemn homosexuality per se, but that it condemns merely "immoral acts" are doing an intricate tap-dance around what was considered to be immoral.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 
It's not as if that's terribly muddy. Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the word arsenokoitai is rather circuitously translated as "abusers of themselves with mankind", though a literal translation would be more like "male-bedders" and it clearly states that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. That's certainly justification for Phil's view that it's a sin. If a sin isn't something that keeps you from the kingdom of God, then I challenge you to find a definition that makes sense.
"But Phil depicts gay people as deviant, and that’s a big problem." 
If so, it's a problem that's shared by "most conservative Christians", in contrast to Kristen's statement. It is a minority, and by no means a conservative minority, who openly encourage homosexual behavior. For instance, the catechism of the Roman Catholic church describes homosexuality as "intrinsically disordered"... a nice, fancy, polite way of saying "deviant" while avoiding the negative connotations of that word. Loosely interpreted, it says "it may not be your fault, but it still ain't right." Others are sympathetic to those with same-sex desires while still condemning the activity... "love the sinner, hate the sin". With the exception of a few nutjobs like the Westboro Baptist Church, you won't find any phobia or hatred among Christians toward gays. But that doesn't mean they agree that homosexual activity is OK.

So yeah, while Jesus himself never mentions homosexuality outright, he left his Church in the hands of apostles who further explained his teachings. God didn't change his mind about what constitutes a sin between the Old Testament and the New. According to the New testament, man lying with man is still abhorrent, just as it was when Leviticus 18:22 was written. However, that sin, as all others, is forgiven by Christ. And don't think that that's picking on gays, folks. The mainline Christian view is that NO ONE deserves the kingdom of God. NO ONE.  The Pope is no more deserving of Heaven than a gigolo or drug addict. It is through God's grace that one is accepted. Christians don't get that grace by doing good; rather, they strive to do good because they have received grace.

And that's what you get when you go back and have another look. So don't go telling me that Phil got it wrong, because he didn't. He accurately stated the position of his religion, as taught by the Church from Day One.

What I think (part one)

So that's an analysis, but it doesn't tell you what I think on the subject.

I think that of all the gifts that God bestowed upon Mankind, the one that He values most highly must be our freedom of choice. Free will. Even if there were no god, then free will remains as the first most valuable possession of any man. If he does not own himself, he owns nothing. Personal sovereignty is axiomatic, and it is on the basis of this axiom alone that slavery is abolished and human rights upheld.

I have a very strict interpretation of the First Amendment proscription to "make no law" regarding religion, pro or con. I think it means "MAKE NO LAW". It's not rocket science. So government should not be in the habit of defining marriage, nor encouraging, nor denying marriage or denying consensual adult relationships. If you want to marry, do it. As a Christian, you already know that non-Christians, including Atheists and Satanists marry... so you really don't have a theological leg to stand on regarding blocking other people's secular unions. You may instead wish to exalt your own union as a "consecrated marriage", or a "Christian marriage". My politics are informed by my theology. The Bible doesn't tell Christians to chase people down and force them into right action; only that they must be mindful of their own actions and associations. In a theological sense, it's not my business to force you to do good, because that doesn't help you. You must freely choose to do good. I can only encourage you to do so. I disagree with a lot of Conservatives on this matter, but I think that one disapproving of immorality doesn't mean you should legislate morality.Conversely, allowing you to make your own mistakes doesn't mean I approve of them.

Whether in a marriage or not, people have the right to choose their own actions. Whether I approve or disapprove of your actions has no bearing on my love for you. Nor does it change the way I'll interact with you in a casual social setting. The subject will only come up if you bring it up... and you might be absolutely amazed at the number of people who bring up a topic for the apparent purpose of soliciting other people's opinions so they can practice the fine art of being offended. If you're offended by one of my views, you probably brought up the subject in the first place. This particular blog post is in response to one such solicitation. At the very least you willingly exposed yourself to my opinions... for instance, I told you near the top of this very page to go away if you're offended, yet here you are.While whether I approve of your actions or not is immaterial; it's certain that I'd think less of you if my approval were required to make your world go 'round. YOUR freedom of choice is your most valuable asset... why in the world would you waste it by abandoning it to peer pressure?

And folks... please think this one out.... even if I think that you probably just chose Hell, if you don't think there is a Hell, and I'm not even barring you from making that choice, then what the fuck are you complaining about?  And more importantly... if one of the Robertsons or anybody else disagrees with you on the subject of religion, what business is it of yours? Exactly none. How much "approval" are you owed for your lifestyle, no matter what it may be? Exactly none. How much outrage are you justified in having? Exactly none. Seriously, if you really want approval from a particular person or group, the way to get it is to do things of which they approve. Anything else is forced, and puts you in the wrong.

Also... the outrage of the Left is highly selective. Where is the outrage about Alec Baldwin's railing against "cocksucking faggots"? Most of that, you'll remember, came from Conservatives in the form of that very same question. The Left is curiously silent.

Here's a note on Facebook by someone who gets it, 100%.

Other Issues

Of course, the homosexuality issue is only part of what Phil discussed with GQ. He's also taking flak for "insinuating" that Blacks were happier under Jim Crow. Here's what he said:
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
He said he did not personally witness mistreatment. While maintaining a high degree of skepticism, as it's just a report of what he experienced, I'm tempted to just say "he said, she said"  and put it down to being very sheltered, of very limited experience, or having a very selective memory, were it not for (again) a few of the comments about the statement, notably "Comparing black people to white trash is cringey."

And why is that? No really... exactly why is that? Comparing himself to his immediate neighbors who were in similar economic conditions, with similar jobs at the same time is bad because of ... his color. The complaint itself is a racist complaint. It tells us that Phil has no right to acknowledge his humble beginnings because he's privileged by being white. That's the be-all and end-all of that argument. He's an over-privileged white cracker who amassed a vast fortune of $15 million by selling racist duck calls, whereas someone like Oprah must struggle with the mere $3 billion she scraped and saved despite still being a virtual slave. All hail Oprah, and fuck you, Phil.

What I think (part two)

People who think that white trash are privileged have never been white trash. I will point out this one thing, having been in that position, and with full understanding that white people can not entirely comprehend racism. Again the quote is twisted out of context. It's not about comparing "blacks to poor white trash" (implying that all blacks are compared to only "white trash"). It's the other way around... it says that "white trash" in the South are treated much like blacks, so Phil identifies with the blacks ("I'm with the blacks.") For this he's called racist. The reason I would put off his comment to selective memory is that in the days before entitlements and welfare, Phil was a child. As my stepfather once told me about growing up in the Great Depression, "Nobody had anything, so we didn't know we were poor." It is perfectly reasonable to compare poor white people to their poor black neighbors. People to people.

I know full well this will not be believed by people who have nothing to go on but generations-old hearsay, but class distinctions are more important than racial ones at the very high and low ends of the spectrum. Blacks and whites of the Hollywood elite have no problem mixing together in high society. That's not because they're enlightened, it's because they're peers. Likewise, very poor blacks and whites in the rural South don't have much trouble mingling. On the other hand, there are solid social strata... poor white trash and rich Whites don't mix. I find Phil's claim that he saw NO mistreatment of blacks not credible, but earnestly stated if he received similar treatment and didn't view it as unusual at the time.
(By the way, in my experience the worst racist attitudes I ever saw in my life were encountered when I visited upstate New York. The South is tame by comparison. I, as a Southerner, was shocked and embarrassed by the words coming from my Northern hosts even as I hear from ignorant Northerners about how racist we all are down here. But hey, Northerners, I get it... it's so much more satisfying for you to exercise your feigned outrage than to listen and learn.)
You see, much of what we label as racism is actually class-ism. And while a poor white may not experience racism, he can fully experience being looked down upon because of his mere appearance, demeanor, language, accent, education, dress, tattoos, dentition, associations, job, or lack of a job. Often all of the above. You cannot measure the effect of racism without first addressing these issues, which press upon people of all races.

Now.... all that said, I do, as stated above, reserve a high degree of skepticism. This skepticism isn't sufficient to label as "racist" a man who has expressed identification with blacks and has related memories of nothing more than personally getting along with his fellow human beings.

If Phil's statement were racist, despite the fact that his quote is about people living together idyllically, and despite his accompanying statement that he identified with his black neighbors, A&E knew what they were getting when they hired a family of rednecks. What Phil said was far less racially offensive than Grand Theft Auto or the scores of rap and hip-hop songs glorifying ganstas and niggas and hoes. But again the outrage of the Left is very selective. If A&E feels that Phil is racist, then they shouldn't be wishy-washy about it. Just cancel the show.

The fact of the matter is, A&E felt the need to do something about Robertson's statements or lose Liberal viewers, so they suspended him. They certainly have that right. We enjoy protected free speech with regard to the government, but as a private enterprise the network can certainly visit consequences upon the Robertsons. But why didn't they didn't fire him outright? It's because Duck Dynasty pulls in mega-bucks for the network. The Robertson's faces are on everything from their duck calls to bedding to lunchboxes to posters to adhesive bandages. The merchandising alone is astonishing. The network's not in any great hurry to give that up.

But I'm not sure that A&E thought this through. It's not the Liberals who they're appeasing who buy all that crap... it's the rednecks they just pissed off. A&E may have just shot themselves in the foot.

You see, the Robertsons are sticking together, saying there will be no filming without Phil. It's unlikely that A&E have viable legal recourse to either force them to continue or fine them for not, since Phil didn't disparage the network or its producers or sponsors. When all's said and done, the Robertsons were successful without A&E. They didn't need this show to start with. And when all the smoke clears they'll still be the Robertsons, and their fan following will not look on Phil's comments with the same outrage they feel for A&E's censorship. It's a lose-lose proposition for A&E.

As for me, I don't care. I have no love for duck hunting, and don't like the show.... my life goes on.

1 comment:

  1. As we say here in the Ghetto; "Fo shizzle!"