Friday, December 20, 2013

Penultimate thoughts on Duck Dynasty

As we head into Christmas vacation, many people will tune out of the blogosphere, so I'll post my exchanges from Joe Carter's Duck Dynasty thread.

steve hays December 19, 2013 at 12:04 AM
He's a layman with a working class background. Not a theologian. So, no, he doesn't express himself in highbrow terms. So what?

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 12:01 AM
When did supporters of "marriage equality" suddenly become so prudish? It's not like the LGBT lobby is queasy about explicit content.

December 19, 2013 at 1:00 PM
If his words are too graphic for TGC than maybe TGC shouldn't discuss the topic.

steve hays 
December 19, 2013 at 1:25 PM 

TGC can discuss a topic without using Phil's terminology.
steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 10:43 AM
He was punished for speaking the truth, to send a message to others not to speak the truth.

December 19, 2013 at 11:28 AM
What message?

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 11:45 AM
His paraphrase of 1 Cor 6. 

You seem to be offended by his comparison between homosexuality and bestiality. Why is that? Are you saying bestiality is morally wrong? If so, by what standard do you judge bestiality to be evil, but not homosexuality?

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 6:59 PM
"The reason the comparison is offensive and should not be used is because it has been used for a very long time to degrade and dehumanize gay people. We do not compare other sins to bestiality: I have never heard anybody compare adultery to bestiality, or claim that societal acceptance of premarital sex will lead to bestiality. It is a comparison that has been pretty much exclusively reserved for homosexuality, because it is particularly cruel and hurtful. It degrades and demeans LGBT people. The issue isn't that it's comparing two sins. Saying "homosexuality is like gossip" wouldn't cause that level of pain. It's saying that a man who engages in a sexual relationship with another man is no different than a man who engages in sex with an animal; by doing so, it's implying that the other man and the animal are no different."

The comparison operates at two levels:

i) To begin with, both sodomy and bestiality are contrary to nature. Not every sin is contrary to nature. Premarital and extramarital sex are both sinful, but they aren't contrary to nature. There's a reason why so many homosexual men undergo colectomies, in comparison to heterosexual men and women (to take one example). 

ii) It's also a test-case of whether homosexual advocates can draw a moral line. Do they have a basis for objective moral norms? Do they think bestiality is intrinsically evil. If so, why? If so, why is bestiality evil, but homosexuality is not? If not, then why is the comparison offensive?

iii) You fixate on allegedly "demeaning" and "degrading" rhetoric while you remain consciously silent on the degrading nature of homosexual behavior. So you feigned concern is superficial and disingenuous. If you really cared, you would focus on objectively degrading behavior rather than subjectively degrading rhetoric.

iv) You also play into the stereotype of homosexuals as emotionally fragile creatures. Some of them would find that
offensive. Speaking of which, do you think homosexuals always use nice language when talking to or about each other?

December 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM
No, he was punished for making a statement that conflicts with the views of the corporation he agreed to represent.

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 1:29 PM
He was punished for making a statement that conflicts with radical chic patronage for the current social mascot of the power elite. I daresay most of the constituency for Duck Dynasty has no problem with his statement. So in this case the A&E executives are dissing the customer to please outside pressure groups.

December 19, 2013 at 12:40 PM
As others have said, the problem is when asked to explain sin, he began with homosexuality. I'm not saying that Christians all need to support gay marriage, but I think I can say with confidence that regardless of your theological convictions, if, when asked to explain sin, the first thing your mind jumps to is homosexuality, there's something very wrong. It places homosexuality on an unnecessary pedestal, yes, but this has already been pointed out. More egregiously, it asserts that the definition of "sin" is "things that Christians find icky," rather than a more Biblical definition of evil and rebellion.
I'm going to give Phil Robertson the benefit of the doubt and assume that this isn't what he actually believes, but it's how it came across - or at least, how GQ made it sound - and as a result I think that even the most adamantly anti-gay Christians should be put off by his statements.

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 1:33 PM
You mean, the way St. Paul begins with homosexuality in Rom 1? 

Since the power elite is putting homosexuality on a pedestal, there's nothing wrong with using that sin as an index of social mores. 

Likewise, there's nothing wrong with having an instinctual revulsion for certain sins, just as we have an instinctual revulsion for cannibalism. That's something we ought to have.

December 19, 2013 at 1:41 PM
Paul begins with giving a brief outline of the nature of sin (Romans 1:18-23
). The bit about homosexuality comes after that.

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 1:48 PM
What you call the "bit about homosexuality" is the sin Paul uses to showcase the principle. That example is central rather than incidental.

December 19, 2013 at 12:53 PM

To be honest, I don't totally grasp the outrage over his firing. When you are employed by someone, you are - either tacitly or explicitly - their representative. As a result, any employer is perfectly within their rights to fire anyone who they feel is misrepresenting them. We understand and accept this. When a pastor is preaching something that misrepresents the church's theology, he will often be fired. When a police officer is dismissed because private comments he made endorsing use of hallucinogens become public, we understand. We don't complain.
Yet when the shoe is on the foot, when the person coming under fire is someone we like and agree with, all of a sudden it's "free speech" this and "relativistic anti-truth society" that, as though a corporation's prerogative to maintain its image has suddenly vanished into thin air.
We can't draw arbitrary lines to make sure freedom always works in our favour. We can't have our cake and eat it, too. If it is wrong for A&E to fire Phil Robertson because his views misrepresent the perspectives of the corporation, then it is wrong for a church to fire a pastor for teaching heresy.

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 1:46 PM
To begin with, you're artificially separating an abstract the right to fire an employee from what is right (or wrong). Your moral equivalence is false. Firing a pastor for heresy isn't just about the legal right to discharge him, but the substantive grounds for his dismissal. Was it justified? 

And who do you think A&E represents? Outside pressure groups like GLAAD? Or the constituency for Duck Dynasty?

December 19, 2013 at 1:52 PM
Ah, I see. So whether it is acceptable to dismiss someone for expressing their views or not depends on whether you agree with those views?

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 2:04 PM
Are you a moral relativist?

December 19, 2013 at 3:34 PM
I think his point is that you are taking a relativistic position. You are saying that firing a person who represents a business/institution and says something that doesn't agree with the values and beliefs of that business/institution is okay if you think the statements are wrong but not okay if you think the statements are right.
And if we want to talk absolutism, then why agree to have a show that makes you beholden to a corporation that promotes wrong views?

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 7:05 PM

You're profoundly confused about what constitutes moral relativism. Here's the correct distinction: treating like things alike and unlike things unalike. Let's take two comparisons:

Example A: An employee is fired after he's caught diverting customer payments to his private offshore account.

Example B: A whisleblower is fired after he's caught leaking to a journalist information about how the company is selling customers defective products.

It isn't relativistic for me to support A but oppose B.

December 19, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Persecution? That seems like too strong a word for this situation. Has anyone tried to take his life or imprison him?

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 1:35 PM
That misses the point. To some extent, Phil is insulated by his wealth and popularity. If they can go after him, they will go after Christians who lack his buffers.

December 19, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Robertson's statements did not elevate the discourse. I think sometimes we like to get ourselves off the hook for not speaking in love by thinking things like, 'Well, they won't be satisfied until everybody says homosexuality is great.' I'm sure that's what many LGBT people want, ultimately. But, are they going to bristle at anything else? I don't think so. Especially by making the parallel between homosexuality and bestiality, he used the same language that has traditionally been used to marginalize, degrade, and dehumanize LGBT people.
I do think there are ways he could have talked about homosexuality, that were true to his convictions, that would not have caused such an uproar.

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 1:38 PM
Why are you concerned about allegedly degrading rhetoric rather than the actually degrading sexual practices
of "LGBT people"? Do you have a detailed knowledge of homosexual practice?

December 19, 2013 at 12:44 PM
I am astonished to see you or anyone else defending his crude language.

steve hays 
December 19, 2013 at 1:40 PM 

He could have been infinitely cruder by describing actual homosexual practices in detail. If anything, he was fairly euphemistic when you stop to consider the nitty-gritty of what it amounts to.

December 19, 2013 at 5:23 AM
The problem with Phil's statement is "Start with homosexual behavior..." Why START with this sin? Admit it, we do have a homophobia problem if homophobia means an irrational fear of gay people - leading to distorted and reactionary opinions about how much of a threat this tiny minority presents.

steve hays
December 19, 2013 at 10:38 AM
The fact that he was suspended shows this is not an "irrational fear."

December 19, 2013 at 11:28 AM
What message? That is you make comments correlating homosexuality and bestiality--as well as some truly ignorant and racist comments about the pre-civil rights South

steve hays
December 20, 2013 at 12:18 PM
It's striking how people read more into Phil's statement about blacks than he actually said. Now, it's quite possible that he suffers from tunnel vision.

But he was simply discussing his personal experience. What he observed growing up. His experience may well be quite provincial. If you interviewed some of the blacks he grew up with, they might well have experienced some things he didn't observe. After all, he isn't black. He didn't have their experience. 

He's just talking about what he happened to see and hear. He could be misremembering. But it's specifically his first-person observation and recollection from that particular time and place.

Piers Morgan is so pompous. Did Morgan every do fieldwork side-by-side blacks? Of course not. So what does he know about it?

Phil is describing what he witnessed in rural Louisiana when he was young and poor. 

He's talking about how much he had in common with blacks back then. A shared work ethic. By his own admission, he was po' white trash. 

How can one get racism out of his self-deprecating comments? 

He's an up-by-your-bootstraps kinda guy. He got where he is without gov't aid.

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