Mr. Robertson and Free Speech

First of all, I want to say that I disagree with what Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty said in his GQ interview. I’m not going to characterize it, and I’ll get to why in a moment.

I first want to address the concept of “Free Speech”. A lot of so-called conservatives are whining about the network violating Mr. Robertson’s freedom of speech. Let’s be clear here: there is no such thing in an employer-employee relationship.
The Founding Fathers of this country, when they crafted the first of the original ten amendments to the Constitution, when they said, Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech was referring to the freedom to criticize the government and all it’s institutions without fear of reprisal. This part of the First Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme court over the last 200 yars to include most speech, within limits. For instance, the line is crossed if someone’s speech causes harm to an individual or group, whether overt or incidental.
What I mean by incidental is if a person’s speech, even if they don’t call directly for harm, implies that it would be good if harm were caused.
I’ve never seen the show, Duck Dynasty. I have no interest at all in any of what television networks term Reality T.V. I really think that when all we can do is produce garbage, and call it entertainment, well, it say at lot about us, doesn’t it?
But back to Mr.Robertson. He’s a fundamentalist Christian, or so I am lead to believe but what I’ve read and heard about him in the past two days. Did anyone actually believe that he would answer any differently when asked what he considered sin?
I wouldn’t have. That doesn’t excuse what he said, it’s just a statement of fact, I think.
When he did that interview though, it was in the context of his show, produced by a network that didn’t hold his values.
In any situation, when you work for a company, your public actions or statements that reflect poorly on the company, you’re not protected. No one has the right to make personal statements, while representing their company (as he clearly was, why else would GQ be interviewing him, because of his homemade duck calls?) that might cast even a hint of a shadow on that company.
This is really a no win situation for both sides of this made-up controversy. The network will probably end up losing it’s premier show. I really think this will happen. Why would the rest of that family want to participate when their patriarch (yeah, I used that word) is not going to be on the show?
For the family, will they be able to find another venue? Probably. Will the show ever be the same and will it draw the same numbers as far as total viewers and demographics? Yet to be seen but most likely not.
As a final bit here, I noticed a story before I left my office today that there was a Facebook page in support of Phil Robertson. By 1 p.m. MST, it had over 600,000 “likes”. What does that say?

One thought on “Mr. Robertson and Free Speech

  1. Well said. You make an excellent point concerning free speech and one’s relationship with their employer. This seems to be a civics education problem. Far too many people seem to think that the First Amendment applies in every conceivable situation. We need to do a better job of educating them about the First Amendment, including its limitations.

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