Openly gay journalist Michael Musto has condemned the A&E Network for letting Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson off the hook "despite the misguided things that come out of his mouth like explosive bird diarrhea."
The cable channel suspended Robertson indefinitely after he made controversial comments in a GQ interview calling homosexuality a sin, comparing it to bestiality, infidelity, and promiscuity.
But in an opinion piece for The Daily Beast
, Musto says A&E quickly had a change of heart about its ethical position and reinstated him "when some major cash flow seemed to be at stake."
He went on, "The ratings were set to drop, as remotes around the country thumped along with the bibles. They withdrew their slap on the wrist, while citing various mealy-mouthed reasons. Robertson, they said, would 'never incite or encourage hate.' No, except when he incites or encourages hate.
"Swarms of Christ-loving people have defended their Duck hero’s freedom of speech. But 'free speech' doesn’t mean you can say anything and still keep a job. If your free speech threatens someone’s chances to live a free life, it hardly means that putting someone on hiatus from a TV show would violate the Constitution."
Muston said that by "caving in" the network's executives had shown how easy it was for them to reverse the important step taken by another TV channel, MSNBC, when it dumped Alec Baldwin's Up Late after the actor had indulged in another round of anti-gay slurs.
Musto slammed A&E's "botched handling" of the Robertson mess, saying that the "petty patriarch" heads a family "that fills Duck Dynasty with divine wisdoms, along with expert ways to lure ducks so you can shoot their guts out."
The writer said he found it "extra strange" that Robertson equated homosexuality with bestiality, considering "he's the one who’s obsessed with animals, not me and my friends."
He wrote, "He also compared gays to greedy people and swindlers, all headed to eternal damnation unless salvation calls. But he’s just quoting the Bible,' say his loving supporters, rallying around him with beatific grins and guns out."
In his comments, Robertson also compared gays to other sinners like drunks and terrorists. "Good luck trying to convince my gay brethren to be thrilled that we’re on an equal plane with [Osama] bin Laden," says Musto.
Calling the 67-year-old Robertson a "quack," Musto also berated him for his comments on African-Americans in the GQ article, in which the reality TV star said that "pre-entitlement, pre-welfare . . . they were happy. No one was singing the blues."
His comments "could no doubt inspire Paula Deen to whip up some kickass duck dishes," Musto wrote. "This guy would probably recommend '12 Years a Slave' as a romantic comedy. I’m guessing that his ring tone is `Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.'"
Musto suggested that A&E should attempt to redeem itself by having some proud gay and African-Americans on Duck Dynasty to try to enlighten Robertson, along with the millions of cable viewers who love him.
He also jokingly said that A&E could put Baldwin and Robertson on a new reality show called Celebrity Hate Rehab. "I wouldn’t watch it, but I wouldn’t protest it either," he added.
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