How nice to welcome the peace and joy-filled Christmas season with yet another public relations crisis by someone who is more adept at communicating with water fowl than with humans beings. I have never seen A&E's "Duck Dynasty," although I’m aware of its popularity. Based on the little I know about the television show, the conservative leanings of the now controversial Phil Robertson cast member shouldn’t come as a surprise. What’s disingenuous about Mr. Robertson’s defense of his anti-homosexual remarks is the image makeover he’s had since the issue became controversial. Instead of sporting the traditional camouflage clothing of duck hunters, Phil Robertson now clothes himself in the American flag as he boasts of his first amendment right to free speech.
Of course, Mr. Robertson is free to keep a grip on his values just as others are free to believe otherwise. Vocalizing his thoughts as loudly as he blows on his duck calls is certainly his choice as well. That’s the great thing about the first amendment. He wasn’t denied the right so say what he thinks, no matter how much he quacks otherwise.
But there are consequences to free speech and that’s because words and how we use them matter. Words can kill a career just as quickly as a shotgun blast can take out a mallard in midair. Mr. Robertson probably just couldn’t see that from the blind where he apparently spends so much time.
The "Duck Dynasty" cast members are most likely paid well for appearing on this show. But by agreeing to participate in realty TV, they acquired a new corporate boss and structure in addition to their own successful business. Officials at the A&E Network have a right to react and respond to Mr. Robertson’s behaviors, even if they did know his personality and beliefs when they hired him and his gaggle of relatives.
At the root of this PR crisis, is that Mr. Robertson could so easily and quite freely have expressed his views in a more polite and dignified manner. Instead, he chose to be crass and unkind. So stand your ground and defend your beliefs all you want Mr. Robertson. But when others fire back, you probably should just stop talking and, well, DUCK!