Dissents Of The Day

Lots of pushback from readers on this post. Before we get into them, just a recommendation to go read TNC on the underplayed racial aspects of this. On to the dissents. First up, an accusation of a double-standard:

So Alec Baldwin in anger calls a reporter a “c—ksucking f—-t”, MSNBC fires him, and you rejoice and write, “I’m glad the allegedly liberal network does not regard violent homophobic bigotry as something it wants to associate with.”  But when Phil Robertson, not in anger, spouts vile bigotry, you scratch your head and ask, “Why on earth would they fire him for giving some more [redneck reality]?”

I’m confused. If a celebrity is a Southern conservative, it should be understood he’ll have bigoted views and shouldn’t lose his job for expressing them, but if he’s a liberal he gets no such breaks?  Is that the principle? Is there a principle here?

Baldwin is a commentator on a liberal network who was on tape threatening another human being with violence, using homophobic slurs, something he has done before. Robertson is a reality TV star who is only a star because he has the kind of views he expressed to GQ. Is that not an obvious difference? Let’s say, for example, that Alec Baldwin were actually Jack Donaghy from 30Rock, in a reality show, and had yelled homophobic slurs at a paparazzi off-camera in a way that was perfectly consistent with his persona on camera. It would be nuts and hypocritical to fire him.

Another adds, “Phil Robertson would sit across from you at a dinner and have no problem telling you that you might as well be screwing a dog. Not sure Alec would do that.” Maybe true, but I’d much rather have dinner with Phil Robertson than Alec Baldwin. Engaging fundamentalists on this subject is one of my favorite activities. And I’d much sooner engage than condemn. Another reader looks at the advertizing aspect:

Oh, come on Andrew … really you’re befuddled?  A&E of course issued the perfunctory statement stating that they disagreed, etc. etc.; which may very well be true.  However, that isn’t the reason they suspended him.  Advertisers abhor controversy, and it doesn’t take a genius to know that there is a good chance this would negatively impact revenue.  THAT is the reason.  The free market has spoken loud and clear.

And another:

Not everyone is as independent as you and your staff, Andrew. Many require ratings and advertisers and thus rely on not offending large swathes of the population (gay or not). Keeping Robertson would cost them money, and it is A&E’s right to shit-can a redneck they feel has cost them money.

Of course it is. There’s no real First Amendment issue here – on either side. I just think A&E are full of it. Another reader:

I don’t think it’s unfair to fire Robertson at all.  As a someone raised in the Deep South who is also gay, I think the stereotype of the Southern Christian as “anti-gay” is itself objectionable.  The character Robertson played is a Southern religious fundamentalist, true, but that doesn’t require ignorant statements on the level of what he said to GQ.  (Incidentally, his statements about Muslims and Japanese people were as bad or worse, and were equally inexcusable, as well as breathtakingly ignorant.)

If I had an employee that made statements like that, I would have to fire him.  And it wouldn’t be an emotional or political decision, either.  The laws of the state where I live are such that, if a person is openly making statements like this, my business would run some pretty significant legal risks if we didn’t fire him.  Why should this guy get a pass?  Because he’s from the South and that what’s expected of him?  That is very poor reasoning.

Because he was employed specifically because he was the kind of person who would make such comments!