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

Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences.
Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences.
Phil Robertson photo via Facebook

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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