PHIL ROBERTSON WINS AMERICA’S HEART
WHILE BOB NEWHART GETS EGG ON HIS FACE
Who would have thought that the call of resistance to leftist cultural fascism would be the sound of a duck?
But the attempted roasting of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson touched a nerve among an American public that apparently has reached the limit of its patience for the unending, remorseless assault on Judeo-Christian moral propriety.
Not that the American public had been all that noticeably staunch in standing up for any kind of propriety. For a long time now, the default setting on moral outrage in this country has been Live-and-Let-Live.
Indeed, the old whine that gays are subject to a constant barrage of persecution is as phony as a hand-painted mallard decoy.
But the LGBT blackshirts overplayed their hand this time.
I’ve never seen “Duck Dynasty,” and I have no way to gauge the sincerity of the Robertson Family’s Christian commitment or their personal rectitude. I do know that, a few days before the controversy erupted, Barbara Walters had included them in her broadcast retrospective on the year’s most noteworthy people. Think what you will about Barbara Walters (her number-one pick for the year was Hillary Clinton — go figure), but getting attention from Baba Wawa does constitute a certain kind of pop-culture bona fides.
All would have been ducky if Phil wasn’t quite so candid (and accurate) in describing the homosexual practices he found distasteful while sharing his moral perspective in the pages of GQ. Such spontaneous honesty threatened to undo years of crafting a wholesome gay facade emphasizing love rather than anal intercourse.
Phil’s “intolerance” was absolutely intolerable, and had to be dealt with fast. So companies associated with “Duck Dynasty” and its related merchandise received the usual avalanche of leftist outrage. One of the most prominent, Cracker Barrel Restaurants, proclaimed its shock at Phil’s retrograde views, promising to cleanse its retail shelves of all offending products.
Cracker Barrel had second thoughts, however, when thousands of customers complained that it was complicit in an attack on a favorite show and beloved pop-culture icon. The company reversed course, taking a stand in defense of Phil’s free-speech rights.
Which proves that businesses actually do listen to their customers— a heartening discovery.
Things went a bit better for the blackshirts in Florida. There another pop-culture icon, Bob Newhart, had been booked to perform at the annual convention of Legatus, the international Catholic business leaders fraternal organization. Newhart then backed out of the gig in a flap over alleged homophobia.
Legatus expresses Tom’s vision of providing opportunities for executives to grow in their Christian walk and share the distinctive experiences of people working at high levels of corporate responsibility (many of which experiences have definite moral/spiritual aspects). I’m sure Bob Newhart seemed a perfect headliner for its get-together in Orlando, his star status well polished and his Catholic identity and religious practice well known.
Legatus has never taken any kind of public stand on homosexuality or gay rights — none that I’m aware of, anyway. But it appears that, at some point, somebody noticed the organization’s advocacy of Catholic moral precepts. (What a scandal: a Catholic group adhering to the teachings of the Church!) Or perhaps they saw the article in Legatus’ membership magazine in which an ex-gay described giving up the lifestyle and coming to Christ (believe it or not, that sort of thing does happen).
At any rate, Newhart began to get heat — which, in reality, may not have been all that hot. I wouldn’t speculate on his feelings about homosexuality or the Church’s teachings on the subject. But there’s just no discounting the influence of the circles in which we move. Newhart is a fine performer, and he seems like a nice guy. But he’s a Hollywood guy who has lived in a very peculiar world for a long time.
And, giving the benefit of the doubt, it must be noted that in show business, contractual obligations involve more than just the star under contract. The original “Bob Newhart Show” (one of the best TV comedy series ever produced) is still in syndication. For instance, it’s carried on MeTV, the television classics channel.
MeTV is owned by Tribune Broadcasting, a subsidiary of the Tribune Company which owns, among other things, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. There’s also a distribution agreement with MGM. I receive MeTV via the local Fox affiliate.
I don’t know if any of these entities figured in Newhart’s decision to stiff Legatus. But when corporate connections like those are involved, there are multiple points at which pressure can be exerted.
Whatever way it was done, the fix was in, and Newhart was out.
My wife suggests that Legatus ought to book Phil Robertson for its convention, and I think she’s onto something. Phil isn’t Catholic, but he hasn’t ducked out on defending Judeo-Christian moral propriety. As they say, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…
I’m sure those Catholic business leaders gathering in Orlando would grab their Duck Commander duck calls and greet him with a rousing 21-quack salute.
After all, birds of a feather…
National Review columnist Kathryn Jean Lopez cites some ironic contrasts between Bob Newhart’s withdrawal from the Legatus convention and comments he made on the relationship between freedom and humor as a commencement speaker at Catholic University of America. In fairness, she also notes that he was under ideological pressure…
“The goal of efforts like the successful bullying campaign against Bob Newhart is to beat the faithful into submission to a gospel of secularism, one that all too many of us have a track record of submitting to in our daily lives.”
Ouch! A painful truth, even for those of us who aren’t famous, beloved comedians. Read her thoughts — which cover a lot of moral ground — at…
Participating as a panelist on Fox News Sunday, commentator George Will made a wry observation about how the “Duck Dynasty” controversy fits into the ongoing high pitch of righteous indignation maintained by the left…
“What we do see here,” Will said, “the new biggest American entitlement is the entitlement to go through life without being offended. People think they have a right not to have their feelings hurt, not to have their sensibilities in any way exacerbated. I would refer them to Jefferson who said, ‘It does me no harm if my neighbor believes in 20 gods or 1 god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.’”
Catch the entire statement at…
Ya gotta love the Free Enterprise System.
The “invisible hand” of the market (in Adam Smith’s famous metaphor) not only satisfies our material needs by bringing us the world’s productive output — transcending divisions of nation and culture, incidentally — it eventually settles all disputes and clears up all misconceptions.
That hand no doubt touched the management of A&E, and — whaddaya know — they now realize that “Duck Dynasty” does indeed reflect the network’s core values, which are “centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect.”
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that — as noted by the Hollywood Reporter — the series averages “13.4 million viewers and 7.6 million adults 18-49” weekly and has “multiple brand tie-ins.”
Welcome back, Phil. It was all just a big misunderstanding…