Alright, now they're just startin' to piss me off:
The statement said the Robertsons have "spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.
"While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Phil would never incite or encourage hate. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.... Again, thank you for your continued support of our family."
Hate; bigotry; there's such a sharp distinction between the two. So what part of his "faith" was he expressing here?
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person," Robertson is quoted in GQ. "Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”I've read Christian Dominionist writings that express the same "faith," the idea that blacks are not "entitled" to be treated like human beings; and the fact that it is bigotry wrapped in ostensible Christianity doesn't make it any less offensive or reprehensible.
And I don't see where his statements on homosexuality were any more "faith-based."
Phil Robertson lost his ability to be on a TeeVee show. Boo-hoo. He only had that ability because A&E carefully edited what he said and did to suit the "reality show" frame they wanted to broadcast. If A&E had allowed Phil Robertson to be Phil Robertson, he never would have become this famous, or, now, this infamous. He claims he is "a Godly man," and that he doesn't judge people, even as he judges gays and blacks. But he isn't "judging" because he doesn't condemn them to hell; he leaves God to do that. Anyone doubt he means God will condemn them to hell because they aren't "godly"?
Even in matters of "faith" society sets limits (and no, Charlie Pierce, this is not a violation of Mr. Robertson's other 1st Amendment rights, either). I don't condemn Phil Robertson for his offensive ideas. But I'm not real upset he may not return to the TeeVee screen.
Worse things have happened to people, whether Phil Robertson and his family know it or not. I think, in the end, Alyssa Rosenberg got it exactly right:
There is clearly a market for an underserved audience of religious Christians who would like to see themselves reflected in popular media more frequently. And there is clearly a market for being horrified by other people’s behavior. But it is exceptionally difficult, in a reality television context, to separate out and wall off the part of someone’s personality that is attractive and media-friendly from the parts that are less palatable to a mass audience.Welcome to the world, Robertsons. It's a very, very big place.