I’m tired of all the righteous pundits and demagogues that screamed about Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s right to free speech after A & E Network sent him on hiatus for several weeks back on December 18th. Sure, he’s free to say and do what he wants but as a celebrity in the public eye, he needs to use great care knowing that everything he says and does will be scrutinized.
There is no difference in the poor choice of words he made during his interview with GQ than the poor choice made by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry and her comments about Mitt Romney’s family portrait. Just as Robertson’s comment was not directly about gays and homosexuals, Harris-Perry’s was not directly about the young black child.
Robertson used a poor choice of words while making a valid point – he said “we never, ever judges someone on who’s going to heaven or hell…” and went on to say that God sorts that out later. I totally agree with his comment. But it’s what he said next in the same breath that had some folks all excited, “whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later…”
His point was that regardless of what someone does that goes against organized religion, his isn’t to pass judgement because that role belongs to God Almighty. What some people saw was that he lumped homosexuals in with drunks and terrorists. Harris-Perry was mocking the lack of diversity in the Republican party, which really is low-hanging fruit – and likewise, I totally agree with her point. But joking along with her colleagues about the baby marrying Kanye West’s daughter one day and the Romneys and Wests being in-laws – not cool.
What’s bothersome though is that the blow-hard pundits who took issue with A&E’s handling of Robertson wanted MSNBC to fire Harris-Perry – none afforded her the benefit of free speech. And therein lies the lesson.
Free speech is a misnomer because we have an obligation as an intelligent, morality-bound society to use care with what we say and when. What we say, write or do affects others, period. Now go, and stop hanging on my every word – I choose mine carefully before I sat to post this because the pen truly is mightier than the sword!