Backlash Grows Against A&E for Benching Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson

In less than a day, Duck Dynasty fans and non-fans alike are letting A&E and the world know they are angry that star Phil Robertson has been put on “indefinite hiatus” for what A&E perceives as his “anti-gay” remarks.

At least two Facebook pages went up on Wednesday in support of Robertson, one called Stand with Phil Robertson that, as of this writing, had 1.1 million likes and another called Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson is Put Back on Duck Dynasty that has 1.2 million likes.

At the popular petition page Change.org, several spontaneous campaigns have exploded. Between two titled "A&E Network: Bring Phil Robertson back!" and "A&E Networks: End The Wrongful Suspension Of Phil Robertson," over 167,000 people have put their names to the petitions as of this writing.

#Duckdynasty is trending on Twitter, as is #A&E. The posts are overwhelmingly in support of Robertson, if not for what he said but favoring his right to say them.

Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention tweeted:

Silencing views one doesn't agree with, rather than engaging them, is hardly open-minded. Bad call by A&E. #DuckDynasty

— Russell Moore (@drmoore) December 19, 2013

This is ridiculous. RT @Variety: 'Duck Dynasty': A&E Suspends Phil Robertson Following Gay Remarks http://t.co/XpPno8RmVR

— Russell Moore (@drmoore) December 19, 2013

But it’s not just conservative Christians defending Robertson; gay allies are, too.

One supporter tweeted:

I don't have a problem with homosexuality, but I also don't have a problem with any American stating his opinion. #DuckDynasty

— Stephanie Richards ⚓ (@stephrichards95) December 19, 2013

When the story broke Tuesday, the webpage of the Hollywood Reporter was inundated with thousands of comments. At the time of this writing, the story has 27,000 comments and 120,000 Facebook shares.

Even some gay Americans and their supporters have entered into the debate in support of Robertson.

A woman named Abby posted a comment at the Duck Dynasty fan page: “Let me first say I am for gay rights. Love is love… that being said, I think all this has just gone too far…Phil has the right to his religious views and he should have the right to talk about them.” 

Another user, Louisa, wrote, “As a bi-sexual woman, I stand behind Phil. GLAAD cannot speak for the entire gay community.”

A number of petitions have also been launched on Change.org, with thousands of backers supporting Robertson's return to television.

The controversy started with the publication of a long feature in GQ’s January issue where Robertson said, "It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Chad Griffith of the Human Rights campaign remarked, “Phil Robertson’s remarks are not consistent with the values of our faith communities or the scientific findings of leading medical organizations.” Christians are quick to point out that Robertson’s comments are both personal and Biblical.

Robertson released as statement in the wake of the controversy explaining his remarks:

I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.

According to the GQ story, Robertson’s show is watched by an astonishing 12 million people per episode, 2 million more than watched the finale of Breaking Bad. Will A&E risk the audience of one of their top shows ever? 


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