In a society in which tolerance is increasingly defined as the willingness to substitute “happy holidays” for “merry Christmas,” perhaps it was inevitable that a TV show host is suspended for expressing his religious beliefs about homosexual behavior just days after the leader of a church holding that very doctrine is named Time magazine’s “person of the year.”
But the seemingly disparate treatment of “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson and Pope Francis is neither as inconsistent as it seems nor, as some conservatives have claimed, just the latest example of how orthodox Christians are losing their constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and religion.
It is, however, another indication of something just as serious: the degree to which yet another topic that should be respectfully debated is instead being subjected to the fascism of conformity and silence.
Just as serious discussion of racial issues and even President Obama’s job performance is too often avoided for fear of being labeled a bigot, there is increasingly only one socially acceptable view of homosexuality and its corollary, same-sex marriage.
To be clear: Robertson expressed his viewpoint in an especially unfortunate and inflammatory way to GQ magazine. But the reaction to what Robertson said had less to do with his verbiage than with his belief that the Bible considers homosexual behavior one of many forms of sin.
“Hateful . . . discrimination” responded the gay and lesbian media advocacy group GLADD.
The First Amendment “shouldn’t protect vile bigots” like Robertson, added Cable News Network’s Piers Morgan.
But the right to say something should not be confused with the right to say it in somebody else’s venue. If the A&E network no longer wants to show “Duck Dynasty” because of what Robertson said, it has every right to pull the plug despite the hypocrisy of having hired Robertson after his beliefs were well known and for continuing to air (and profit from) the show even after suspending him.