Saturday, December 21, 2013

Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson and Ignorance Run Rampant

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. - Marcus Aurelius

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - John F. Kennedy

A couple of days ago, I walked into a “well known Canadian coffee chain” wearing a very offensive hat.

Here is a photo of the hat that I was wearing.


I didn’t think it was terribly offensive.  However, the lady serving me made an observation about my hat that surprised me so much that I tweeted the following:


Some people in my place might have stated that they didn’t understand why a woman in a free country still needed to wear a hijab.

Some might have pointed out that if this interaction were taking place in her country of origin, that she could be flogged for speaking to a man in such a manner.

However, I’m mature enough to know the difference between an opinion that doesn’t matter to me versus something worthy of my attention. 

I’m also mature enough to know that this opinion does not represent the majority of people of her belief system.

And finally, I’m mature enough to know that words alone do not represent a threat to my state of physical or mental well being.

Frankly, the expression of opinion is something that we champion as a reason why the western world is allegedly superior – that our right to express an opinion is protected under law .

So when I hear the outrage expressed by people about Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and his expressions of his beliefs, I can only shake my head and ask these questions:

Is your Life that empty (or completely fulfilled otherwise) that all you have left is to be angered by his beliefs?

Who has appointed you as the Master of Opinions, giving you supreme power to label opinions (not facts) as right or wrong?

If you believe that such beliefs are evil and must be punished, then you might as well fire or jail almost every evangelical leader, every Catholic priest and everyone else who shares the same opinions.  Frankly, whether you agree with his beliefs or not, such beliefs are held by millions of people in America alone.  Should they all be jailed, fined or punished in some way?

If we are going to be offended and punish people whose opinions offend us, then let’s pick a committee and allow them to define what we are not allowed to talk about anymore to avoid any confusion in the future.

Here are some items they might come up with, depending on who sits on the committee:

1. Vegans will have the right to have meat-eaters mulched and used as fertilizer for growing more vegetables.

2. Meat-eaters will have the right to grill vegans (I’ll take mine blue-rare please).

3. Anyone who criticizes a government leader will automatically be assumed to be doing so for racial reasons and should be jailed immediately (although shooting them will keep the prison population down).

4. Adults who don’t praise the book Fifty Shades of Grey as the best book they have ever read will be labeled “sexually repressed” and will be subjected to “sexual abandon” therapy.

5. Specific colors that make people feel bad will be banned.   Some suggestions:

Blue – because it reminds people of depression

Yellow – because it reminds people of cowardice

Red – because a non-Aboriginal person might think that it offends Aboriginals and that they need to defend people who are quite capable of defending themselves

Black – because it is racially loaded

White – see the previous point

6. When someone wishes you Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Holidays, etc., if they inadvertently guess your faith wrong then you will have the right to feel offended and punch them in the mouth in order to protect the sanctity of “the season of peace and goodwill”.

7. Blondes will be forced to change their hair color, since although they are considered to have more fun they will also be discovered to be intellectually inferior and the combination of having more fun while being less intelligent will be considered as a threat to everyone else’s safety.

8. Anyone weighing less than 300 pounds and not up to their eyeballs in credit card debt will be jailed (or shot) since they would be considered anti-consumer and thus anti-capitalistic, thereby representing a threat to our economy and in turn, national security.

9. To settle the dispute over global climate change, we will shoot supporters of the theory during the odd years while shooting the skeptics during the even years.  The last one left standing will be considered to be right and supported by “irrefutable facts”.

Choosing our fights

It’s funny that when the idol of many of our children does this ….

we think it’s entertaining while reserving the right to be horrified if our child grows up and does the same thing in public.

When HBO shows this on TV …


we dismiss it as entertainment although if you tried this at home Child Protective Services would kick your door in pretty quickly.

And yet when Robertson expresses an opinion which really has no direct influence on our Life, an opinion which he is legally entitled to regardless of whether you agree with him or not, then all hell breaks loose.

I’m sorry – does my use of the word “hell” offend you?

Too bad.

And so I asked my gay friends what they thought.

The vast majority shrugged it off as not affecting them, their families or their Life.  They are used to opinions that don’t align with their lifestyle but they are too busy creating a Life and contributing to society to worry about someone else’s opinion.

Their response raises an interesting point:

If we choose to be offended by everything, pretty soon our Life will be consumed with defending it instead of living it.

Personally, I’m offended with people who don’t care about others, especially the downtrodden, the homeless, the hungry, the war-stricken, the abused and the many who suffer in silence.

I’m offended by greedy, selfish, self-centered people.

And truthfully, I’m offended by people who are constantly offended.

But what’s more ignorant – telling someone that their opinion is ignorant or telling them that they are not entitled to have an opinion?

Because telling people that their opinion is not allowed is a slippery slope, feeling just fine until one day you find out that some belief that you cherish cannot be expressed publicly anymore because someone else is offended by it.

Bottom Line:

If we choose to focus on fighting those who offend us, then we will spend all of our time doing that instead of focusing on doing what we can to create a better world, especially true given that there is no shortage of things to be offended by if we allow it.

I think focusing on creating a better world matters more.

What do you think?

By the way, it’s ok to disagree with me. 

After all, this is just my opinion - but just between you and me, we both know that your opinion is wrong :-).

Rumi once noted:

If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?

How well are you polishing your “mirror” today?

Are you sure?

How do you know?

In service and servanthood,



GLAAD, the gay and lesbian anti-defamation group that led the charge against Phil Robertson, promotes a pro-gay agenda under the auspices that everyone should be accepting of everyone else’s lifestyle.

When one demands acceptance of a particular lifestyle while condemning another, one has to be careful about the inconsistent message that this sends and the potentially unwelcome attention that it attracts.

Addendum 2 – December 22, 2013

While the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store originally pulled many of the Duck Dynasty products in protest of Mr. Robertson’s comments, they reversed that decision today.


Whatever the reason, I think it was the right decision and congratulate Cracker Barrel on making it.

What do you think?

Closing Thoughts – December 28, 2013

A little over a week later and everything is back to the way it was.  Phil Robertson is back on the program and A&E has backed off on its original intentions.

More than likely the thought of losing the “golden goose” that Duck Dynasty has become for A&E was the major reason for A&E reversing its original decision (probably true for Cracker Barrel also).

However, it is a reminder that when one is preparing to take bold action that it is extremely important to understand the potential impact of such a decision before actually moving forward.

Not everyone gets the opportunity to have a “do-over” as happened here.


  1. I am surprised that there are not yet any comments here. Once again, my friend, you speak truth that is obvious to those who do not fear it. Let us disagree where we will. With kindness, gentleness, humility and patience, offense has no room to take root and grow. Even amidst the deepest disagreements, love wins. We must only choose it.

    1. There has been a lot of discussion on FB and Twitter about this post.

      97% agree with my musings.

      3% are hate-filled diatribes from people who feel that bullying and intimidation are the way society works and that anyone who disagrees with them doesn't deserve an opinion.

    2. In analyzing the 3%, it is clear that in their Life, they have felt affronted by "something" ... and so there is a simmering negativity looking for things to latch onto.

      A sad reflection of a difficult Life, I guess.

    3. For example, this was posted yesterday by a senior person within a well-known software company:

      "The decision by A&E to fire the duck jerk only enhances my appreciation and respect for A&E. I personally object to ALL expressions of racism and intolerance. I call people out when I see it. The duck jerk is an intolerant racist, and I am glad to see him gone from A&E."

      This person doesn't see how self-contradictory he is - he objects to all forms of intolerance and then refer to this guy as a "jerk" and an "intolerant racist".

      He also posted a reasonably vicious personal attack against me that was subsequently deleted when questioned by others. In fact, much of his original response had nothing to do with the subject of my blog but was an attack against me personally.

      It seems that the ability to discuss opinions and issues without screaming and insulting and the art of focusing on the subject and not the individual has become an extinct art.

  2. Harry: I was just reading news about this, and decided to get the public's opinion - then I came across your blog here...

    Excellent discussion, excellent vision. It takes unique people like you to point out what should be plainly obvious.

    Although I have to disagree with you on one point: some people, like yourself, are mostly right most of the time about a variety of things - and it's generally the case that it's just because you are not blinded by all the distractions, and/or see through the 'propaganda machines'.

    What I've been tirelessly trying to convince people is how to solve problems and how to devise strategies to make the correct answers to said problems a reality.

    However, I did something very 'bad'. I used two posts of insults to display to people what they are like, and instructed them to see past it so they can get over their 'negative emotions' and see the 'real issues' for themselves, and as a result restore them to some place of rational thought and decision-making...

    As such, I wish you more success than I will ever have. Best,

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Thank you for your kind comments.

      I'm not sure that posts of insults will provide you with the results you seek.

      As for your closing line, anyone who seeks the betterment of others deserves all the success that they are capable of producing. Seek to improve the lot of others and do it with respect and you will find success - however it is measured.

      Create a great day.


  3. When the whole episode aired I had to wonder that A&E had no idea of Phil's opinion? Really? The man says a strong Christian prayer at the end of just about every episode that I have seen. Of course he would have these opinions. And they probably had a list of questions that he would be asked before the interview even happened. So the question is did they do this as a marketing ploy? In that respect it was brilliant. More people are watching Duck Dynasty than ever.

    But you are totally right Harry. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. Everyone is supposed to be able to say what they want, but in today's world we are seeing Christians who post their views being attacked as intolerant while others are free to speak. Others are free to call them bigots. A little interesting stat is that there have been more Christians killed for their faith in the last 100 years than there were in the 2000 years combined. Interesting isn't it?

    In South Africa where Nelson Mandela just passed away so much was done in the last 25 years to change the way things were. Black men are free men. Nobody asks though, "What has happened to the whites as a result?" It would be a very unpopular subject, but whites have been immigrating to Canada since the fall of Apartheid because of persecution in their own country. The laws make it hard for them to get jobs because they clearly favour other ethnicities. They face violence in the streets regularly due to their colour. I guess some would say, they deserve it, but there was a white middle class. They were not all rich, capitalistic oppressors who deserve this intolerance. They are people. White or black.

    I listened carefully to the whole statement that Phil said. Most did not listen to the whole statement. They took out the lines they wanted to exploit. 1. They would have done better to listen to the whole statement 2. They should be listening to his heart (He was not being mean spirited when he said it and he has no history of supporting hate.) 3. As you have noted they should pay attention to the fact that we all have the right to an opinion even if it is not the most popular one or the loudest one.

    Over the last 30 years minority opinions got very loud. They got so loud they became popular. They got so popular that they began to believe that theirs was the only opinion. Phil, and the support that came to Phil shows us that the entire population has not laid down their opinion due to loudness and popularity. They still have an opinion.

    Those who demand that there be NO INTOLERERANCE though are quick to want to snuff out the Phils of the world. And you are right, they can't see their own intolerance in that.

    Phil said afterwards that he loves all people and meant no ill will to anyone. I am not hearing those words from those who demand NO INTOLERANCE.

    1. Thanks for your kind (and very detailed) response, Kerry. :-)

      I agree with you totally. A&E knew from the beginning what they were in for. It wouldn't surprise me either if this was a plot to bump up the ratings even more.

      I also think that Phil was intentionally misquoted in order to create more hate, more drama, more __insert intention here__.

      I agree with you also regarding the irony of those who chant the mantra that their opinion matters but the opinions of others do not. These people are too ignorant to realize the slippery slope that this thinking places all of us on.

      Thanks again for your kind response, Kerry - create a great, Blessed 2014.