Are there any LGBT community members who support free speech?

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he big news from this morning was the GQ interview with Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson. In part of a very lengthy interview, Robertson uses rather straightforward language to describe his preferences as a heterosexual male. Part of this description includes reasons he is not a homosexual male. (Think body parts.)

Phil Robertson

Phil Robertson

Frankly I find concern about that particular section to be absurd. What do people think gay men do, hold hands, give shoulder massages and kiss each other on the cheek? Salty, perhaps, but erroneous, no.

The truly problematic part for Robertson in today’s culture is that he called homosexuality sinful. Such talk has become the unpardonable sin in the religion of tolerance.

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.

This led to the second huge Robertson news story of the day: his suspension by cable TV network A&E from Duck Dynasty tapings. Said the network:

We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.

Methinks A&E is protesting all the way to the bank. Suspend the star but not cancel the show?

How ironic a network that makes millions under the First Amendment guarantees, does not defend it for one of its biggest stars.

Said Wilson Cruz of GLAAD in response to Robertson’s interview:

Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.

Whether Robertson’s words are “vile and extreme” are up for debate. But, his right to say them? Is that not protected?

The once upon a time guide to TV programming, now apparently a culture shaper, TV Guide could not so much as hide its disdain even in the title of its report: Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Spews Anti-Gay Comments in GQ Profile.

My question is where are the members of the LGBT community who still believe in the First Amendment to the Constitution? Does free speech only count during Pride weeks and Pride parades? Does the right to speak one’s mind only apply to defense of privacy and not to the opposition?

There is a First Amendment. It guarantees freedom of speech. There is a protected right to speak one’s mind, even when it goes against the prevailing thinking. Even when it goes against “tolerance.”

Does the LGBT community believe in the First Amendment for all Americans, or only those who believe like them? There have been many people who have fought and died in defense of the Constitution, in defense of the right of the LGBT community to do exactly what Phil Robertson and many others call “sin.” Many of these who fought and died believed exactly like Robertson. They died to protect the freedoms people with whom they agreed and disagreed.

Time will tell whether gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons fully support the First Amendment or merely pay it lip service. But for now, if you are out there, your voices are not being heard.

UPDATE: In this post I encourage Christians to stop using bestiality in moral comparisons.

UPDATE 2: Comments are now closed.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

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  • Mike Chitwood

    I have read and watched a lot of on-line news sites about this today. It is very clear that there is a bias against anyone who does not support homosexuality. For example, as I’ve been watching many of these reports I do not even think the “reporters” even know they are being biased. TV Guide’s article title used the word “spew,” which implies a bias. Another link I saw from yahoo called it homophobic. So it’s tough to have an honest conversation about it when the society already has a bias view and dismisses the opposition. This to me is sad, because it’s tough to find common ground even culturally in such a climate.

  • Stephen Andrew Card

    Great Post Marty!!!

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  • katherinecoble

    “Does the LGBT community believe in the First Amendment for all Americans, or only those who believe like them? ”

    The First Amendment protects you from government interference because of speech. It does not protect you from business or private citizens. Mr. Dynasty wasn’t thrown in the stocks or manacled to the deck of a ship. He is criticized by others who are using THEIR rights of free speech to do so. Freedom of action does not mean freedom from consequence.

    • martyduren

      Is that a defense of Robertson’s right to free speech?

    • David G

      I was about to post the same thing. The First Amendment protects from the government, not the employer. If you, Marry, loudly and publicly voiced your Biblical view that illegitimate children should not be allowed in church, doesn’t LifeWay (as a company you represent) have the authority to choose not to have you represent them? What if Robertson had said that interracial marriage was an abomination? Or eating shellfish? This simply isn’t a First Amendment issue unless he is being censored or silenced by the government.

      • David G

        That was supposed to say Marty, not marry.

        • martyduren

          I’ve been called worse. ;^)

      • martyduren

        First, I’ll answer your question: Yes. I do believe any employer has the right to choose who might represent them. I think the dichotomy on “free speech” between A&E and Robertson reveals a blatant hypocrisy nonetheless.

        Now my question: are you defending Robertson’s right to free speech?

        Both you and Katherine have avoided the main thrust of my post. Will GLAAD and groups like them support the First Amendment or simply spew in return?

        • David G

          I definitely support Robertson’s right to free speech. I don’t believe he should be arrested and sent to jail or forced to pay a fine for what he said, and I don’t think that anyone from GLAAD will demand those things to happen, either. However, his right to “free speech” has nothing to do with A&E, anymore than Nike’s decision to cancel it’s endorsement contract with Lance Armstrong did. He used his right to free speech to confess on Oprah that he had cheated. I didn’t see any Facebook memes (complete with Old Testament scripture addresses) blasting the Swoosh for dropping him.

        • David G

          And speaking of fines…

          Last week the NFL fined a NY Jets player $25,000 for calling the Patriots “cheaters.” Is this not a violation of his right to “free speech?” Should we all go out and buy his jersey in support? This is only an issue for people who agree with what he said.

        • martyduren

          This isn’t on point with the article’s main point. No one is claiming the player’s words are spewed, hateful, filled with stereotypes, etc.

        • David G

          The representative from GLAAD is using their own right to free speech as well, by responding to something that they consider hateful with something you consider hateful. Given that they are a representative of GLAAD, though, I can assume that their employer won’t reprimand them for it.

        • Carsen Young

          Isn’t the claim that “words are spewed, hateful, filled with stereotypes” simply free speech?

          Your entire article could be refuted by essentially replacing “Robertson” with “GLAAD.”

        • Parque_Hundido

          You claim it’s not on point because the comment shows that you have no point. You’re trying to raise the specter of “hate speech”, a fear mongering tactic long used by right wing extremists. In legal terms, there is no such thing. The contrast you draw between the NFL player’s statement and the duck guy’s vile homophobia is meaningless. It’s what we call a distinction without a difference.

        • martyduren

          The legal definition of hate speech: “Hate speech is speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.”

        • Parque_Hundido

          Could you please cite the statute? Could you tell me where and how such speech becomes actionable within our court system?

          I didn’t think so. This is the most amateur fear mongering I’d’ve seen in quite some time.

          Now, what about the fact that gay people can legally be fired in 34 states for saying the words “I’m gay”? Are you going to pretend you didn’t know that? Even as you claim to know what LGBT groups think and say?

        • martyduren

          You didn’t ask for a statue. You asked for a definition. I found one you apparently don’t like.

          You can find another in the first paragraph of this article in the August 2002 edition of The American Journal of Comparative Law, aka “Not a Right Wing Website”:

          American courts have heard several cases over the years regarding hate speech and seem to tie it to direct attempts to incite violence. That seems to be the actionable point, as you put it. As Robertson had no attempt to incite violence, are you comfortable with branding it “hate speech” as others have done?

        • Parque_Hundido

          No, I asked for the legal definition of “hate speech”. Since there isn’t one, you made that one up out of thin air. What is it that you people call it when a person makes up something in response to a question he knows he cannot answer? Fibbing? Lying? Sinning? I believe all three apply in this case.

          You told a brazen lie. And you did so for the purpose of fear mongering. And then you got caught.

          This all seems simple enough.

        • martyduren

          Do you think, as GLADD and other have advocated, Robertson is guilty of pushing “vile and extreme stereotypes” or his words were “some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication” or contained “blatant misinformation”?

        • Carsen Young

          Yes to all of the above. So?

          Are you suggesting that “Freedom of Speech” protects you from criticism of that speech?

          Doesn’t GLAAD have the freedom of speech too?

        • martyduren

          1st, apologies for the delay. I missed several comments along this way.

          Absolutely not, and absolutely. My question was, and remains, will GLAAD or other gay-rights organization say, “We acknowledge Robertson’s right to free speech, but…” and state disagreement. I haven’t seen it.

        • Carsen Young

          You’re asking for a defense of something that’s not being attacked. Robertson’s right to free speech is NOT being infringed so why on earth would ANYBODY be issuing statements about it?

        • Carsen Young

          GLAAD and groups like them do support the First Amendment, however there is no First Amendment issue at stake here.

        • Parque_Hundido

          I believe you’re deliberately misunderstanding the point. GLAAD does not need to defend his fFirst Amendment rights because they have not been violated. For the record, GLAAD has always supported the First Amendment. Right wing bible thumper groups like the ACLJ or ADF are among the groups most actively trying to stifle free speech. Your whining about GLAAD can only bring on the most unflattering scrutiny of your ilk’s legal activism.

        • martyduren

          I may have missed some point; it wouldn’t be the first time. Nothing was done deliberately, however.

          My question is would they openly support Robertson’s free speech specifically, not the First Amendment generally. I cannot see where they have.

          As to whether they support free speech, it remains up in the air as far as I am concerned. Gay-rights groups often speak of “hate speech” “hateful words” “vile” and the like when “sin” is the comparison. It is not lost on me the effort to push this toward hate speech categories that would render such speech illegal. What’s protected today might not be protected tomorrow.

          BTW, I’m not an across-the-board supporter of ACLJ or ADF, and I’ve never called for anyone’s speech to be stifled. If you can find it on this blog I’ll remove it.

        • Parque_Hundido

          If you’re so brazenly and willfully ignorant of current events and legal matters, what qualifies you to say what LGBT groups do or do not say? “Hate speech” is a right wing extremist scare tactic, usually trotted out in conjunction with a complaint about how some minority is getting too uppity in their demands for respect. Isn’t it amazing that your deployment of that term fits so well into the established pattern?

          There is nothing at all “up in the air” about the First Amendment. You’re either pretending to misunderstand so that you can continue to fantasize that some right has been violated and that gays are to blame or you understand too little about the topic and should stop posting about it.

          Or perhaps you can let us know more about your new fantasy of “general” free speech, not related to the actual First Amendment? Is that where right wing bible thumpers all get their own television shows that they use to spout vile homophobia and racism?

  • Randy

    It’s easy.. if you dont like what he said or his views, don’t read the magazine or watch the show. This is his opinion. He has a right to it.

    • Joe

      Carsen is being a bit too clever by half. GLAAD’s actions just reveal the way they roll and advance their agenda. This includes consultants and ‘diversity’ training in corporate America that only present one perspective–theirs–(and even stoop to deliberately skewing the faith perspective on the issue through who they leave out of those videos) or concerted campaigns basically trying to intimidate and blackmail companies into going alone for fear of being the brunt of a huge PR stink. Most folks never see this, and it goes on daily and is unrelenting. No big surprise, that–especially in this economy–folks don’t want to speak up for fear of losing their job and not being able to provide for their families which is far more insidious. That’s precisely why they operate in ‘private’ since these tactics wouldn’t fly re the First Amendment. Again, no big surprise that when they lose votes in referendum, they just simply turn to the courts and find judges or bring suits to impose what couldn’t be achieved at the ballot box. Truth is, as you know Carsen, the only way folks can avoid all the above is to tell you what you want to hear and go along which is not diversity, or free speech, or tolerance in any form. So, in reality, you are the anti-Phil of the Phil strawman you set up–doing exactly the same thing in reverse with one major difference: Phil is not trying to take away your job and ability to earn a living.

      • Carsen Young

        How have I taken away your job? Specifically. That’s quite an accusation you threw at me there.

        • martyduren

          I’m not sure about that either, unless it’s a reference to people who have been fired for making anti-gay or anti-gay marriage comments.

        • Carsen Young

          Which wouldn’t make sense given that gay people are regularly fired for simply being gay. And still wouldn’t answer where I, personally, caused someone to lose their job given that he actually singled me out by name.

  • Carsen Young

    “Time will tell whether gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons fully support the First Amendment or merely pay it lip service. But for now, if you are out there, your voices are not being heard.”

    To the contrary, I haven’t heard even ONE gay person saying that Robertson should be tossed into a jail cell for his views. Would you mind specifically quoting who has stated that his First Amendment rights should be taken away?

    • Matt Svoboda


      The real question is, “Where are the people in the LGBT community who are speaking up for Phil Robertson’s right to state his beliefs?”

      • Carsen Young

        Robertson’s right to state his beliefs is not being infringed. Where are the hate groups who are speaking up for GLAAD et al right to state their beliefs? They aren’t because nobody’s rights are being infringed. Everyone is welcome to say what they like on the topic.

  • Carsen Young

    “What do people think gay men do, hold hands, give shoulder massages and kiss each other on the cheek?”

    Actually gay men do all of those things.

    • martyduren

      Must give you a “well played” here, Carsen.

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  • Parque_Hundido

    Are all right wing “Christians” this poorly informed about our Constitution?

    The First Amendment prohibits the government from punishing people for their speech. Just as bible thumping right wing extremists applauded the dismissal of Martin Bashir or Alec Baldwin, those who disagree with Robertson are rightly pleased with the network’s actions. Those of us who paid attention in eighth grade civics understand that employers have the right to fire an employee who makes them look bad.

    Or perhaps I missed Marty’s vigorous defense of Martin Bashir? I thought not. This is a simple case of a right wing bible thumper who is willfully ignorant about the US Constitution and chooses to parade that ignorance in blog posts dripping with hypocrisy.

    • martyduren

      I knew nothing of Bashir’s nor Baldwin’s situations until after this one erupted. But, I’ll check them out and comment on them in a future post. Possibly even to your liking.

      Again, you assume I’m saying Robertson did not exercise free speech. I never said such a thing. You assume I’m a right-wing Bible thumper. Again, you’d be wrong. You haven’t read enough here to know my political positions, but here are a few I’ve written about at length on this blog.

      I’m a political Independent. The GOP and Dems are sellouts after their own interests.

      I’m against the “War on Drugs” which precious few on the left or right will speak against.

      I’m against draconian sentencing laws that destroy families and imprison productive members of society who’ve made mistakes.

      I’m for holding Israel accountable for human rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank. I’m open to Palestinian statehood.

      I think corporate welfare is a travesty.

      I detest foreign commodity aid that crashes local economies in the name of offloading cheap, tax-payer subsidized U.S. corn.

      I oppose the expansion of the American empire.

      I’m against same-sex marriage, but for equal constitutional rights for everyone re: inheritance rights, healthcare decisions and the like.

      Perhaps you should try again in an area of your expertise because “calling them like you see them” isn’t it.

      • Parque_Hundido

        That’s odd, because you have the precise profile of the faux “independent” blogger that the ADF, AFA, ACLJ and NOM have all cultivated and trained. You fit the profile with amazing precision:
        – You publish puff pieces in the Christian Post, the mouthpiece of the far right.
        – You strategically misunderstand legal issues as a means of fear mongering, such as your refusal to engage on legal questions around the First Amendment or your raising the specter of “hate speech”, a legally meaningless term.
        – You claim to have intimate knowledge of what LGBT groups think and say, but are apparently unaware of any actual issues they’ve raised in the past couple of months.
        – You support the ACLJ and ADF, two of the most extreme right, anti-free speech and partisan groups in the country even as you claim to be an “independent” who supports some notion of “general” free speech, not actually related to the First Amendment.

        My money says that you’re on the pay roll of some right wing group’s PR department. And whatever group that might be ought to ask for a refund.

        • martyduren

          You are wrong on every count. I don’t even “publish” to Christian Post. Could not put up a post on my own there if I tried. The rest of your efforts betray the same ignorance.

          However, if you can help me find that money you are so sure I’m getting, I would really appreciate it. We’ll be needing a car soon.

        • Parque_Hundido

          So you’re disputing my claim based on the theory that since you do not hold login credentials for the content management system at the “Christian Post” [sic], you do not publish there.


          I count two crappy little puff pieces with your name in the by-line. But you didn’t put them in the CMS so your claim is that you didn’t publish them. Gotcha.

          I’m guessing I was right. I see your connection with the ultra racist, homophobic SBC is a matter of publlic record. They happen to own the “Christian [sic] Post”, so im just connecting the great big dots.

          Your Google+ profile suggests you attend Liberty University, a bastion of the exact kind of hate mongering we see in your post here. That profile also says you do PR for a living. I’m not surprised to hear that you’re not terribly successful.

        • martyduren

          Thanks for stopping by. Your above comment where you accuse me of lying, fibbing and sinning gives you the last word. Future comments will be moderated for factual accuracy.