With a plodding inevitability, the ignorant screams of “free speech” are coming from the usual suspects in the wake of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty getting suspended for his homophobic remarks in GQ. (He was also mind-bogglingly racist, but for some reason, that hasn’t been as sticky a story, maybe because his racist comments were a little more complex than his homophobic ones.) Sarah Palin, who is quickly making “dumbass” seem like an inadequate descriptor, said this:
Free speech is an endangered species, Palin, 49, wrote. “Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.
And Sean Hannity is trotting out the “old-fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and values” line. Sure, he’s not wrong that it’s traditional—beliefs that gays and women are subhuman are indeed a tradition—but “we always did it this way” is not actually an argument, or else we’d all still be shitting outdoors and no one would own a cellphone.
Look, I get why the usual suspects are whining and moaning that conservative assholes are entitled to have a TV show on A&E to preserve their “free speech”, without bothering to explain when the rest of us get our A&E shows because we also have free speech rights. Feeding off the claim that conservatives are “oppressed” any time they aren’t elevated as superior to the rest of America is their bread and butter. But man, it’s particularly stupid right now. They should be kissing A&E’s feet and screaming bloody murder at Robertson, because A&E was doing not just the Robertsons but all of conservative America a giant favor, and he, out of his petulant inability to know what he sounds like when he opens his yap, couldn’t be held back from fucking it all up.
Duck Dynasty was a major P.R. coup for conservative America because it was free of comments like the ones Robertson let loose in GQ. The show was carefully scripted and edited to make the Robertsons seem like they aren’t bad people, just a little kooky and “old-fashioned”.* It made conservative America look cuddly and warm and fun-loving, instead of what Drew Magary of GQ actually exposed it to be, which is miserable, resentful, and hateful. While I think most conservatives and most liberals understood implicitly that there was a whole side of this family that wasn’t on camera—was anyone really surprised by the GQ interview?—by carefully hiding it, A&E allowed conservative America to play up their own mythology about being decent people, deep down inside.
Now their cover is blown, and like morons, instead of blaming the guy who blew their cover, they’re whining that the cable networks are a bunch of meanies. Look, idiots, the cable networks bend over backwards to help conservative America out. How many times now has some right wing conservative TV hero turned out to be an embarrassment? Paula Deen? Dog the Bounty Hunter? I can’t believe, for instance, that the Duggars have managed to stay under the radar, since Jim Duggar thinks 1/3 of American women are Nazis because they’ve had abortions—I guess he was smart enough to argue his point through implication, knowing the media needs direct quotes in order to get the story to stick with people. TV networks bend over backwards to put a shiny, happy face on the rot that is conservative American culture, and instead of thanking them profusely, wingnuts just whine that they can’t be more bigoted on camera. Jesus.
*”Old-fashioned” is in quotes because what modern conservatives build up as traditional behavior is largely a bunch of recent cultural inventions to compete with mainstream culture that they find alienating. While it has elements of the traditional in it—racism, sexism, homophobia—the histrionic religiosity and definitely the unkempt facial hair would have seemed very alien to previous generations of Americans. Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine. Conservative white American culture is just as modern as the world it’s rejecting; it just pretends it’s not. Having grown up in Texas, I can safely say that a lot of the stuff, like “purity rings”, that gets presented as traditional is younger than I am. Hell, those didn’t even start to be thing until after I graduated high school.