MN ACLU explains why Duck Dynasty dude's anti-gay comments aren't protected speech

Categories: GLBT, Law
PhilRobertson.jpg
Phil Robertson photo via Facebook
Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences.
Unless you've been on a vacation to Mars for the past week or so, you've undoubtedly heard about the controversy created by Phil Robertson, star of A&E's hit Duck Dynasty show, thanks to anti-gay comments he made during a recent interview.

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"Everything is blurred on what's right and what's wrong... Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," Robertson told GQ magazine. "Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

As news of Robertson's controversial comments circulated, A&E promptly hit him with an indefinite suspension. That, in turn, prompted right-wingers like Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck to claim the TV station somehow violated Robertson's free-speech rights by punishing him for expressing his opinion.

"This is all about freedom, free speech," Palin wrote on her Facebook page. "You know, so many American families have spilled blood and treasure to guarantee Phil Robertson and everybody else's right to voice their personal opinions and once that freedom is lost, everything is lost in our country."

But in a blog post published last Friday, the ACLU of Minnesota's Jana Kooren explains why that's a bunch of bunk:
The Constitution protects you from the government violating your rights. Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, has not been arrested or charged with a crime for his comments about gays (nor should he be), he has been [indefinitely suspended] by a private employer for making these comments.

Phil Robertson has the right to make whatever homophobic or racist comments he wants without fear of going to prison for it, however he does not have the right to have his own TV show, or to say what he wants without negative reactions from his employer or people in the community.
So there you go. Keep that in mind if the topic comes up while you're hanging out with the relatives this holiday season. You might be able to drop some knowledge on 'em.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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154 comments
Givenchy
Givenchy

Doesn't matter, WE WON and you bed wetting libs can go POUND SAND!!!!!


Oh and one other thing: MOST MEN PREFER WOMEN!!!!!!!!!

JeffLund
JeffLund

Why not have an open dialogue about the subject? Indefinitely suspending him is just going to further the tensions... We need to stop criticizing the problems we have and start working toward tolerance and understanding. 

Dayo LaLa
Dayo LaLa

I think they actually fear homosexuality. I think their disapproval is a result of their fears and most likely tied to their own desires that they cannot reconcile.

Adam Epps
Adam Epps

No interest in them or their Neanderthal thoughts or actions. Go away.

Allison Harmer
Allison Harmer

I'm a teacher, I can say what I want (free speech), but if I went to work and said, "Alright you little assholes, listen up!" I'd be fired. I wouldn't be arrested, but I would be out of a job. Can your employer fire you for saying things they don't like and that go against company policy? Yes. It's happened many times. And let's not just focus on the anti-gay sentiment. Why are do few people talking about the ragingly racist "African Americans were happy under segregation" part of the conversation? Paula Dean lost her TV show for similarly offensive comments, and few were screaming freedom of speech then. Yes, he can say what he wants. But he shouldn't play victim when he suffers the consequences.

Aaron Hamm
Aaron Hamm

Well he can't be arrested for what he said. But if I started quoting controversial items out of the Bible to my customers, I'd probably be out of a job too.

Charlie Seto
Charlie Seto

His comments against heterosexual promiscuity are conveniently not mentioned. Dare I invoke Mr I-Am-Hiking-in-Appalachia? Perhaps he shouldn't forget that we have a ~50% divorce rate in America, with associated consequences for the children of these marriages. And these are heterosexual marriages...as if that mattered for the children trapped in the aftermath.

Mike Voels
Mike Voels

"Drop some knowledge on them" whoever wrote this is a moron.

Toni MacTavish
Toni MacTavish

Sick of looking at his face. His opinions mean nothing. Let's move on. He can move out..

Nancy Koreen Tulgren
Nancy Koreen Tulgren

Had one thought and then thought on it more. Getting tried of seeing and hearing about it.

Nic Swanson
Nic Swanson

Love it... (paraphrasing "has the right to free speech, but not to his own TV show") What a joke. If someone spoke out against heterosexuality, it would be glanced over (at the very most). Phil is a victim of the times, and that is a fact, Jack.

Sarah Kennedy
Sarah Kennedy

Hilarious! If only his supporters would also boycott facebook...

Derek Scott
Derek Scott

Um, so I can fire any of my employees, without being sued, because I disagree with them?

Kay Emm
Kay Emm

*And *That's *Their *Phil *You *Someone *Through You didn't actually have to state you were going to continue to buy their products. Your spelling clearly made that statement already. Version for u to read n understand: U didnt actualy have to state u were going to continue to buy there products. Your spleling clearly made that state ment already.

David Coates
David Coates

I've got to pose a counterfactual here. Suppose A&E were to air a program called "Taxicab Dynasty," which profiled a couple of Middle Eastern cab drivers rising through the ranks of the Red & White Taxi Company in Detroit (you know, the one that always has cabs waiting for you when the train from Chicago pulls up in the morning) and the show gets canceled after one of the taxi drivers says words to the effect of "The Qu'ran condemns homosexual activity in unequivocal terms and prescribes the death penalty for it, so I think this country is disgusting, and even my own home country of Yemen is too lenient with these people because it merely carries out floggings as opposed to beheading them." See just how quickly the people defending "Duck Dynasty" and inventing specious free speech claims would pipe up.

Jesse Ksiazek
Jesse Ksiazek

You open your mouth, you pay the price for what comes out of it!

coatesdj
coatesdj

Could have written a clearer headline than this one. As a legal term of art, "protected speech" is usually taken to mean "speech the government can't restrict because of the First Amendment." Otherwise, yes, this article is correct. There's no First Amendment issue with an employer firing someone for objectionable speech.. In fact, there's not even a statutory basis for Mr. Robertson to get bent up about because A & E is a New York limited liability corporation (with probably a choice of law rider in its contracts) and New York is an at-will employment state so he could have been fired for pretty much any reason or for no reason at all.

Jessica Williams Szeflin
Jessica Williams Szeflin

Nice. Coulda left the last sentence off for better receipt effect, but overall well put. Agreed.

Tim Stevens
Tim Stevens

Totally free to speak. Totally fine for a&e to fire him. Total publicity stunt.

Tim Burkhardt
Tim Burkhardt

You're right... he should not be arrested... he didn't violate any state or federal laws. The rest is totally up to his employer... it's their money.

Stephanie Richter
Stephanie Richter

BREAKING NEWS!! Cracker Barrel apologizes - From Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Dear Cracker Barrel Customer: When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we've done. You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren't shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores. And, we apologize for offending you. We respect all individuals right to express their beliefs. We certainly did not mean to have anyone think different. We sincerely hope you will continue to be part of our Cracker Barrel family.

Stephanie Richter
Stephanie Richter

Oopsie and there was more- I will let you go now... Nope- this article is still at 99 :(

Stephanie Richter
Stephanie Richter

Racist AND a homophobe!?? Oh yippy! I can't wait to find out what I am in 2014!

Stephanie Richter
Stephanie Richter

And justice Prevails... 1,788,472 likes · 2,066,785 talking about this- That is the Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson Is Put Back On Duck Dynasty page.. You guys are up to 99 on this article ;)

Terri Garcia
Terri Garcia

I will only watch A&E when Duck Dynasty is on to show my support for the Robertson Family after that I change the channel. ..A&E your COWARDS...

Mark Boeckmann
Mark Boeckmann

Who gives a fuck? Its a TV show. Let us focus on the real world in front of us.

David Gustafson
David Gustafson

Aw, and despite standing with racists and homophobes, you now pretend to be a Christian. How touching...

Stephanie Richter
Stephanie Richter

You would actually come across as a "man" if you didn't feel the need to use insults and degrading language to try to make a statement... Just a thought. Read through your 2 comments and lets decide where the hatred and ignorance really lie... People like you make me even more proud that I stand with Phil... ;) Have a Merry Christmas and God Bless. ;)

Ceil Benson
Ceil Benson

i am sick of it! watch it or don't watch it. we are a nation of 300+ million opinions!!!

Kevin McBride
Kevin McBride

A narrow minded, racist, homophobic redneck from the South??? Wow... breaking news...

David Gustafson
David Gustafson

Evidently, you missed that I'm a man speaking up for what he believes in...but I guess my rights of free speech don't apply in your world of political correctness.

Stephanie Richter
Stephanie Richter

Um no the fact that the Dixie Chicks sucked ended their career O_o

Stephanie Richter
Stephanie Richter

I really was going to have a lot more to say but then realized I would be wasting my breath... Because in all honesty you proved mine and Americas Point... You have used more negative, judgmental and insulting ways to describe a man you know nothing about, a man who spoke his God given opinion while in the same breath saying he loves all people and that everyone deserves to be treated equally and fairly... And here you are spewing your own hatred and insulting everything down to the University he graduated from because perhaps it doesn't meet "King" Davids standards... (oh and my CAPS usage)... You really should come down from your high horse before you give yourself a nose bleed... My other point was proven when I noticed that this article (in the Liberal State of MN) has only 87 likes and 4 shares- a little embarressing for your liberal elitist groups isn't it? Most pro Robertson articles average around 150,000 likes the first couple hours and in any college (even Louisiana Tech Univ) that is still a greater number of people who stand up for a man just speaking what he believes in...

kurt124
kurt124 topcommenter

Where is your compassion and diversity of views Adam.  Let's have some understanding of the context here.   


kurt124
kurt124 topcommenter

Rick, go watch a partial birth abortion to make yourself feel better. 


mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

If they sign an "at will employment" waiver, for sure. If not, it'd be harder.

Drewey
Drewey topcommenter

If they disparage other employees and/or shine a negative light on said company...then yes.  Any other questions?

ganjanic
ganjanic

And I didn't hear a thing from these people when Alec Baldwin was fired from his position for allegedly using a homophobic slur. They only come to the defense of the people who share their position.

khottavo
khottavo

Dare I say how ignorant you sound?

ganjanic
ganjanic

@kurt124 So anyone who doesn't like the guy from the duck show automatically supports any abortion...

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