Sunday, January 5, 2014

A victory with unwanted allies

I've been mulling over the reversal from A&E television, where Duck Dynasty host Phil Robertson will be returning to the show after all. He was initially pulled because he said obnoxious things about gays in a magazine interview, but the network gave in to widespread criticism from right wingers who said they overreacted by suspending him indefinitely. A few of them also (wrongly) said his free speech was being suppressed.

It's the exact outcome I wanted, but it puts me on the opposite side as those with my social views. From my limited observations, I've seen my fellow gay rights supporters resenting Robertson supporters and gay right opponents backing him up. I don't like clanging swords and bashing shields with my allies, but they've left me no choice

While this is not an actual free speech issue, it was an attempt to file down the sharp edges of our discourse by yanking the platform out from the people we don't like instead of responding with our own words.

Maybe it's from being a young conservative libertarian who has always had liberal friends, but I'm used to tolerating views I don't like on economic issues. Tolerating bad opinions on social issues doesn't feel any different.

I'm reminded of what Bill Maher said in defense of TV chef Paula Deen last summer, that people shouldn't have to "go away" from the spotlight because they said something stupid. Deen is an older southern woman who admitted to using a racial slur decades ago and Robertson stars in a white trash minstrel show. Do we really have to pretend to be shocked by what they said?

I don't like the direction these platform-yankers are taking our public messages, where zero tolerance policies are implemented when someone says what they really mean or said decades ago. It threatens to turn our media banquet into a vegan pot luck, where no one gets offended by what's on their plate but there's no zest, flavor or excitement.

From a game theory perspective, giving in to critics used to be the safest strategy. It looked like a whinocracy was around the corner, but then this summer something strange happened. The protests against Chick-Fil-A spawned a counter movement, and Chick-Fil-A supporters waited in long lines to prove a point.

The A&E reaction was the second act, and it's a good sign for people like me who choose to tolerate intolerant people. I just wish this was an issue I could be proud about, instead of the defense of an ignorance outdated message that dehumanizes innocent people.

1 comment:

  1. One of your better position entries. This really resonated with me!