Patriarch off ‘Duck Dynasty’ after gay comments

The A&E channel says "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson is off the show indefinitely after condemning gays as sinners in a magazine interview. (AP Photo, The News-Star/Margaret Croft)

The A&E channel says “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson is off the show indefinitely after condemning gays as sinners in a magazine interview. (AP Photo, The News-Star/Margaret Croft)

By Lynn Elber

AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES – “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson — suspended from the series indefinitely after making disparaging remarks about gays — is getting some support from key followers.

Sarah Palin posted a picture on her Facebook page of her with the reality show clan with the message, “Free Speech is an endangered species.” And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also lamented the suspension on free speech terms.

“It’s a messed-up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended,” said the governor in a statement Thursday (the show is filmed in his state.

A&E announced Wednesday what it called a “hiatus” for Robertson, 67, after he disparaged gays in the January edition of GQ magazine. He also said that, growing up in Louisiana before the Civil Rights movement, he never saw mistreatment of blacks.

In a statement, A&E said it was extremely disappointed to see Robertson’s anti-gay remarks, which it said were based on his personal beliefs and do not reflect those of A&E Networks or the show. A&E Networks, a joint venture of The Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., called itself a supporter of the lesbian and gay community.

The channel’s move was lauded by the gay and lesbian media advocacy group GLAAD, which had quickly condemned Robertson’s comments.

“What’s clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike,” said GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz. Robertson’s removal “has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value.”

Robertson and his extended family became wealthy manufacturing duck calls and were turned into TV and pop culture stars by “Duck Dynasty,” which has set cable ratings records for a non-fiction series. Several family members appeared in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.

In his GQ interview, Robertson was asked his definition of sinful behavior.

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” such as bestiality, he said.

GQ said he then paraphrases a biblical reference: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Robertson and his family had no comment on his hiatus, A&E said on their behalf. He may be in some previously taped scenes when the show returns Jan. 15 for its fifth season, a network spokesman said.

Robertson did respond to initial criticism of his GQ remarks.

“I myself am a product of the ‘60s” who indulged in sex and drugs until hitting bottom and accepting Jesus as his savior, he said in a statement. Although his mission is to teach people that men and women are meant to be together, Robertson said he “would never treat anyone with disrespect” because they are different.

In the interview, he also said that in his Louisiana youth he picked cotton with African-Americans and never saw “the mistreatment of any black person. Not once.”

“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!” Robertson told the magazine.

A&E said it had received no complaints about those remarks.

  • Thile

    Why is it that criticism of Christianity or the behavior of some Christians considered persecution and/or war on Christianity, but criticism of non-Christians is simply telling the truth and “refusing to cave in to the PC police?

    • TWBDB

      Excellent points. There are rare instances where either statement is true; but in fact these are rare and blatantly obvious when they occur. We don’t have to blur the lines, as we have, to make our political points, indeed these blurred lines muddy our message.

  • barney fife

    Backwoods bigot. Can’t dress him up, can’t take him out in public.

  • countrydawg

    In one week GOP pols went from coopting Mandela’s legacy to rallying around a dude who said black people were happier under Jim Crow. Interesting.

  • TWBDB

    No one is addressing the blatant disregard for the very existence of African Americans and gay people expressed in Robertson’s statements and the sheer stupidity of his response. You can’t
    casually dismiss the plight of African Americans and the offense felt by gay people when statements of this sort are made without believing these groups are lesser human beings than yourself. This dehumanization of others is the basis of all ‘mistreatment’ from simple discrimination to the horrors of human history. It is so very easy to say, “I believe that homosexuality is a sin” without dehumanizing a gay person.

    Let’s set aside the fact that the ‘Free Speech’ clause in the Constitution addresses speech about government and assume it applies to all speech, as do Sarah Palin and others. With this premise, Robertson has every right to express his thoughts as does A&E, GLAAD, you, me, everyone –
    – and we have: clear and un-refutable evidence ‘Free Speech’ is more alive and well today than it’s ever been.