I actually found myself discussing this issue tonight with a guy on an online discussion board who asserted that he has no problem with any of Robertson's statements, including these racist assertions:
Phil On Growing Up in Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Louisiana -- “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. 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 wouldn't mind working for an open racist, if he didn't act on that racism negatively," I was told by this 20-year-old white guy. "If a man can defend his beliefs, then I will respect him, no matter how wrong I think he is."
I told the guy that I'm the father of a multiracial son and would never tolerate working for an "open racist." I mean, c'mon...
Speaking of my 13-year-old son, even he is wise enough to recognize that Jim Crow-era black people weren't content to toil in the plantation fields throughout their lives -- especially while being legally prevented from voting, from shopping at most stores, from drinking out of certain drinking fountains, from attending good schools unmolested, from getting well-paying job that he'd actually prosper at, and from interacting with white people.
And then there is the racist assertion that the black folks who would have hoed cotton in the fields are now all sitting around collecting welfare benefits. Because all black people sit around collecting a welfare check.
But now people are ranting about A&E interfering with Robertson's free speech rights, ignoring the fact that public figures are routinely fired for unwisely expressing their free speech rights. I mean, where were Palin and Jindal when MSNBC got rid of Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir after each of those men exercised their free speech rights? Where were Palin and Jindal when TLC booted Crazy Tony from the "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" reality TV show for dancing around a highway wearing a gorilla costume? Don't his free speech rights count?
And where is my obligatory reality TV show? I want one and unless some cable network reaches out to me with a television proposal very soon, I will be forced to issue a public complaint about the restriction of my own free speech rights. That's a ridiculous idea, but that's how people are coming across with this story.
I guarantee that Phil Robertson's free speech won't be curtailed for long. He will have tons of speaking gigs where he will be able to share his story, his faith, his fascination for vaginas, and his belief that gay people are heartless and faithless. And my guess is that he will eventually return to the program at some not-to-distant-point-in-the-future as part of some hyped publicity scheme.
The cynical part of me believes that this is all part of some corporate hype effort to draw more eyes to this reality TV show and to create more buzz for the show and for the show's stars. And that gay people were at the center for this new culture war front. And it bugs me that we likely fell for it.