Officials at A&E have reversed their decision to remove Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson from the popular reality television show following a nationwide outcry from those who expressed support of his comments.
As previously reported, the situation began following the online release of the January 2014 issue of GQ Magazine, which features an interview with the famed duck call inventor and reality show star. While Robertson discussed a variety of topics from his personal testimony to health care, to his views on hunting and Creation, his remarks about homosexuality ended up putting him out of a job.
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” Robertson, the 67-year-old elder at Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana and co-entrepreneur of Duck Commander Wines, told reporter Drew Magary in the article. “Sin becomes fine.”
“What, in your mind, is sinful?” Magary, who laced the article with profanity, asked.
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” Robertson replied. “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
He then quoted from 1 Corinthians 6:9.
“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,” Robertson stated. “Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Robertson also made explicit comments earlier in the article about why he believes men should find women’s reproductive organs “more desirable,” and added, “[S]in; it’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
However, when homosexual activists learned of the popular duck hunter’s comments, they immediately released statements condemning Robertson’s remarks, and soon after, A&E yanked Robertson from the show, placing him on indefinite suspension.
Conversely, when viewers of the broadcast and others who supported Robertson’s remarks and right to free speech learned of the suspension, they flooded A&E with complaints. A Facebook page that was also created following Robertson’s suspension climbed into the thousands within hours, and stands at over 1.5 million likes to date. Politicians and news commentators alike similarly became vocal about the matter until the culmination of the enormous backlash resulted in the reinstatement of Robertson.
“While Phil’s comments made in the (GQ) interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article,” A&E wrote in a statement on Friday. “He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.’”
“Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love,” it continued. “As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A&E Networks also feel strongly about.”
“So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family,” the network said.
The next season is set to air beginning January 15th.