The National Freak-Out Over ‘Duck Dynasty’ Star’s Comments

Photo credit: Goosefriend (Creative Commons)

Admittedly, I do not watch ‘Duck Dynasty.’ It’s not particularly my cup of tea, but I know about it and that the family featured in the series is Christian. Today, my Facebook feed has absolutely blown up with stories of Phil Robertson, the family patriarch, and what he told GQ magazine about homosexuality and race issues in the South. Here are some key quotes from the GQ interview from Phil Robertson:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. 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!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Phil is known for being very open and very honest with his beliefs–it’s part of why the show is so popular. But A&E, the channel the show appears on, has decided to indefinitely suspend Phil from ‘Duck Dynasty’ for his comments.

I sort of understand the logic–such statements make people very angry in this day and age, and the desire to appease people for the sake of political correctness is strong. However, A&E may have committed suicide over this, as ‘Duck Dynasty’ is their most popular show by leaps and bounds; and the sort of people who watch it aren’t all that likely to be interested in political correctness.  Thus, by getting all worked up over these comments, A&E is only serving to damage itself–and no matter how you slice it, that’s not a good business model.

Now, I’m not particularly interested in addressing the comments themselves. Everybody has an opinion, and mine is no more or less likely to change anyone else’s.  I do want to discuss the larger issue, though, and that is this culture of outrage we live in.  It seems no matter where you go, somebody is upset. Somebody is angry. Somebody feels deeply offended by something or someone.

We are offended far too much–so much so that we can no longer have disagreements without getting mean or condemning someone for thinking a bit differently than we believe should be the case.  As a country, we’ve gone so far on the tolerance scale that we’ve magically become intolerant.  We’re a nation of reactionary revanchist provocateurs who can’t handle dissent. We have no balance, no acceptance, not even free speech, really.  Sure, you can say what you like, but be prepared–consequences are swift and lasting, if the majority doesn’t like what you say.  We are a nation that is becoming more and more entrenched in the fine print; you can do this, and this, and this, but with a thousand caveats and exceptions to the rule.

It has reached a level of ridiculousness where we feel the need to condemn those who disagree or say things we don’t like.  We’re very tolerant of every opinion, except for those opinions we deem ‘backwards’ or ‘not progressive’ or ‘antiquated.’  Perhaps there are brilliant minds out there who have something amazing to say, but by the bullying of a drama-crazed culture are too afraid to speak up.  We are creating fear, stirring up hatred, and doing it in the name of tolerance.  How backwards is that?

And what do we do with the people we disagree with?  We eat them alive.  It’s like a modern-day gladiator game.  We’re apparently starved for controversy and drama, and we create it wherever we go.  Our pursuit of disagreement and outrage is deliberate, and it is disgusting.

How do we fight it?  We need humility, for starters, and that starts with me and you, Dear Reader.  We need to have the nerve and the audacity to say that we honestly don’t have all the answers, or all the control, or all the right opinions.  We’re neither immortal nor infallible. We need to collectively take a chill pill, take a deep breath, and maybe count to 10.  We should quit whining and do something good instead of warring over words.  It takes great wisdom to find the good in this world and draw it out, great forbearance to extend grace to people, and not condemnation.

This is simply what I think, and I know I don’t have all the answers or solutions. I just have my opinion.

And, if you disagree with my opinion, I can respect that.


This commentary originally appeared at


Photo credit: Goosefriend (Creative Commons)

9/11: One Teen’s Entry Into A Brave New World

September 11 SC 9/11: One Teens Entry Into a Brave New World

I remember the morning well.  I was drying my hair in my bathroom before what I thought was going to be a normal day of high school.  Then my mom walked in–ran in, more accurately.

“Melissa, come look at the TV.”

She ran out just as quickly as she came in, and I followed with trepidation, not entirely knowing what to expect.

Emblazoned on the TV was what looked like a scene from an action movie–a massive hulk of a building engulfed in flames.  Initially, I thought it was indeed a movie, but then the horror dawned on me as I realized the full reality.

I was 16 years old that year, a junior in high school.  “Terrorism” was not part of my everyday vernacular.  But, I knew enough about the world to know that something absolutely heinous had occurred.

I had visited the Twin Towers a mere year before, on a choir trip to sing at Carnegie Hall.  Even now, I remember standing between the Towers to take a picture.  I walked around, marveling at architecture we only dream about in Phoenix, having  no idea that a year later, the world would change drastically.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I walked into a brave new world.  I watched from my desk in History class as the 2nd tower collapsed.  I watched from my desk in French class as President Bush gave his address.  I watched from my desk in College Algebra as world leaders aligned with us in solidarity and sympathy. And I watched, every day from then until now, our planet morph in extreme and sometimes scary ways.

My mom often tells me of her life growing up in small-town Wisconsin, and I admit I get jealous and wish sometimes that I had grown up in a simpler time.  Could I bring children into a world like this?  Can I fight the fear of living in a world where people are so callous and careless with the lives of others? Can I, a 28-year-old girl, fresh out of college, really make a difference in a world that is so complex and often perilous?

I think I could.  I think we all could.  If “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” as Burke said, then a good course of action is to fill the earth with good people.  We need good parents, good families, and good communities filled with good people.  We need God, and we need to let go of hate and hubris.

That starts with me.

And, it starts with you.

We live in fearful times, but we do not have to be fearful people.  That’s one of the legacies of 9/11.  When we were knocked down, we got right back up.  And, though we’ve stumbled in many ways, we never gave in, gave up, or were ever willing to sit back and let evil take the victory.

It’s interesting to me that yesterday was National Suicide Prevention Day.  Yesterday was a day to help people know that they’re not alone, that they can persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.  And today?  Today, we look back at how we did persevere, and how we made it through one of the most difficult times in American history.

We stood up and let our voices be heard. We mourned, and remembered, and still remember those who came before us.  We remember the sacrifices made on our behalf, and we look ahead, hopeful for a bright future.

We persevere into whatever may come.

Of all the lessons 9/11 taught me, I’m most grateful for that one.


This commentary originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 


Photo credit: 9/11 photos (Creative Commons)