This is indirectly about the Duck Dynasty ‘controversy’…and I was going to just let it play out because I don’t feel that pop culture and reality TV have much relevance to political discourse. But then two things happened: Leonard Pitts came out with an Op Ed piece that absolutely nailed the faux controversy surrounding Phil Robertson and outdoor writer Dick Metcalf got fired. They are exactly the same topic but the results are significantly different. Let me try to explain.
First, although I am going to summarize Mr. Pitts piece, I suggest you read it in it’s entirety…it is worth it and I won’t do it justice.
Essentially…the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty fantasy family disparaged gays and minorities in a pop culture magazine, his employer (A&E) anticipating negative fall out suspended him, right wing pundits and talking heads whipped their constituency into a frenzy with lies and exaggerations about freedom of speech issues, and in the resulting maelstrom, A&E recanted…and money talks and bullshit walks. Mr. Pitts correctly outlines the point that Mr. Robertson’s rights to free speech were NOT abridged since government wasn’t punishing him…his employer was…and his employer was fully within it’s rights.
The scariest part of the story was the fact that Governor Bobby Jindal, former Governor Sarah Palin and former Governor Mike Huckabee were screaming that Mr. Robertson’s freedom of speech was being squelched. Three former governors who all have designs on the White House lying about Freedom of Speech…I am not sure if they don’t understand…or don’t care to understand because they know it will play with well their base…who themselves don’t know the difference. But just for now, note that they made a big stink about this.
And then we have the case of Mr. Dick Metcalf. As outlined in a story in the New York Times, Mr. Metcalf is “one of the country’s pre-eminent gun journalists”. But he spoke about an issue and has pretty much disappeared from the media as a direct result. From the NYT:
“(He) has been removed from Guns & Ammo magazine, where his widely-read column once ran on the back page. He no longer stars on a popular television show about firearms. Gun companies have stopped flying him around the world and sending him the latest weapons to review.
Oh my goodness what did he do? Did he disparage gays and minorities? No, in fact he wrote a common sense article about gun control:
In late October, Mr. Metcalf wrote a column that the magazine titled “Let’s Talk Limits,” which debated gun laws. “The fact is,” wrote Mr. Metcalf, who has taught history at Cornell and Yale, “all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be.”
The backlash was swift, and fierce. Readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions. Death threats poured in by email. His television program was pulled from the air.
Just days after the column appeared, Mr. Metcalf said, his editor called to tell him that two major gun manufacturers had said “in no uncertain terms” that they could no longer do business with InterMedia Outdoors, the company that publishes Guns & Ammo and co-produces his TV show, if he continued to work there. He was let go immediately.
So where is Governor Jindal? Where is former Governor Sarah Palin? Being the gun aficionado that she is must understand Mr. Metcalf’s position and shoot (pun intended) may even know the man. Where is former Governor Mike Huckabee? When are these three outspoken defenders of Freedom of Speech coming to the aid of another fine American??
So once again we find the right only supporting freedom of speech when it is speech they agree with?? Or even worse, speech that they know panders to the extreme right of their constituency?
Or again, do they think the Second Amendment outweighs the importance of the First Amendment?
Well apparently yes…as the final word from Jim Bequette, editor of Guns & Ammo, even though he had approved Mr. Metcalf’s column for publication:
“Let me be clear: Our commitment to the Second Amendment is unwavering.”