As the year 2013 winds down to the final couple of days it has been interesting seeing and hearing the flap over Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty show. I have friends who have been on both sides of the issue and will probably never really concede victory or loss on either side.
As for me personally, I think Phil had the right to express his views — maybe just not in the exact words used (although I have heard worse on other cable shows and so-called news shows). At the same time I think A&E was being somewhat hypocritical in their response given their “core value” of tolerance. As they reinstated Phil we have this from network:
As a global media content company, A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals.” (sic)
“That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the “coarse language” he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would “never incite or encourage hate.” We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold.”
“But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.”
“So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.”
“We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.”
Lessons for disciples? Maybe.
1. Choose your words and avenues carefully. Scripture tells us to “make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16), and that we should “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Jesus admonished the disciples not to cast their “pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6).
2. Stand your ground — but keep dialogue open. It would have been easy for Jase, Willie, Si and the gang to stomp off the set (literally and figuratively) and refuse to discuss this with A&E — demanding an apology. Instead they entered into a dialogue which resulted in their being able to keep the platform from which they preach — the show. At the same time it would appear they held true to their beliefs. No backpedaling of “clarifications” required.
3. Expect a response. My father always told me that when you throw a rock into the pig pen the one hit squeals the loudest. When we call a sin a sin — some won’t like it. We will get attacks and accusations. Through it all we are to live at peace with all men as much as it is possible (Romans 12:17-19).
I’m glad Phil stands up for his faith. It challenges me to do the same. I am also glad that he and the family held their ground in such a quiet and well mannered way. They could have lashed out and said lots of things about the network and the executives (notice Charlie Sheen’s response to Phil). That type of thing would not have been helpful. Instead Phil and family have provided a means by which we can all discuss these issues in a relatively calm context.
As the A&E statement notes: “they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness.”