The news about A&E suspending Phil Robertson is all over my FB newsfeed. I’m sure when I go to WalMart later today, the amount of people wearing Duck Dynasty clothing or buying Duck Dynasty products in a show of support will be camo-overload for my fashion-loving brain! I’m sure ratings will soar. Well played, A&E, well played.
As I think about this latest media-inspired controversy, I have various thoughts rolling in my brain. I’m going to dump them all out here in this space. And it may not be eloquent. Fair warning.
A&E is not stupid. They know what pays their bills. Duck Dynasty is the biggest thing to happen to A&E in a long time, maybe in forever. But A&E also doesn’t want to be associated with offending another large subset of its market, those who are gay or love and support people who are. So A&E executives met and came up with a genius strategy. They would “suspend” Phil Robertson. Of course, Phil Robertson is already featured in episodes for next season, which has already been filmed. And they’re still going to air those, probably to greater viewership now than ever before, because of this media-inspired controversy. So for A&E this is a win-win, in a way. Their “suspension” of Phil Robertson pays lip service to the gay community AND rallies support for its highest rated show and biggest moneymaker. And though Duck Dynasty fans might boycott A&E’s other shows, they will still tune in to Duck Dynasty. All the while, the gay community may decide to tune in to other A&E shows to thank them for standing up for the gays.
Double Standard. There are Christian organizations whose entire aim is to get certain television shows off the air. Some paid employee watches television shows and counts bad words or sexual innuendos or homosexual characters and then spreads the word to donors about which shows are most offensive to Christians. And then one million moms boycott advertisers and lambaste them in email messages until advertisers pull out and the shows get cancelled. There are people who have made this their life mission. To get television shows they find offensive off the air. And now the shoe is on the other foot. And some conservative Christians don’t like that one bit.
Christians, can we stop for a minute and think about why it’s important to protect the rights of minority groups and the oppressed? Even if we don’t agree with those minority groups. Forget for a minute the whole moral issue of love and doing unto others what we want done to us. Think pragmatically. One day, you yourself might be the minority group and the oppressed. And if policies are in place to protect the freedoms and rights of the oppressed, you will benefit from that. Sadly, though, for many years the moral majority of conservative Christians has worked hard to force their preferences on the entire country, to squelch the voices and freedom of speech of those they find offensive. And now the tables are starting to turn.
I am a fan of free speech. I think Phil Robertson has every right to tell GQ magazine what his beliefs are, even if those beliefs offend some people. And it’s not like anyone should be surprised. I’ve seen the show exactly one time, but I know that the Robertsons are outspoken about being conservative Christians. Really? Are we shocked he believes homosexuality is a sin? Was anyone in an A&E boardroom flabbergasted by this?
But let’s talk real oppression. In response to this story, about a very rich man who stars in an over-produced, sorta-reality show, I’ve seen some Christians post things like, “Christians are losing all their rights in this country!”
Really? Seriously? This comment is so obviously made by people with a teeny-tiny, self-centered view of the world. I really don’t know any other way to say it. Do you know that there are Christians in jail right now in some parts of the world? That in some countries, it is illegal to talk about Jesus or try to “proselytize” people by telling them the Gospel? Do you understand that in some countries Christians are beaten or killed because they refuse to denounce Jesus? And some man who is making a lot of money and has become an instant celebrity on a television show is “suspended” from that show (whatever the heck that even means!) and you’re calling that oppression of all Christians? This is about a television network and its advertisers and making money. This is not about the government oppressing Christians. This is not real persecution.
And speaking of that, why don’t I see a flood of Facebook posts about real, actual persecution of Christians around the world on a daily basis? You know, Christians who have lost more important rights than the right to be on cable TV. Can we please get some perspective?
Stop playing into the hand of the media! The media invents scandals and controversy because that is what draws viewers or readers. That is what goes viral. (Yes, I realize the irony of writing a whole blog post about this subject and then saying, Stop with the hype.) But most people are getting upset because they are told to be upset. There is no media oppression of Christians. For the love! There is no war on Christmas either!
I refuse to get caught up in hype. I guard myself against double standards. I want to treat others the way I myself want to be treated. I want to do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with my God. I want to channel my righteous indignation in the direction of actual travesties in the world.