It Actually IS a Free Speech Issue…
Taking time out of my vacation to write some wanderings about the whole Duck Dynasty situation (because everybody else is – Editor):
Does the A&E Network or the production company receive ANY tax incentives for the filming of the show in Louisiana?
Title VII prevents employers from taking action against employees for their religious beliefs, and requires “reasonable accommodation” for those beliefs. Given that A&E knew of and profited from the religious views of the Robertson’s, can it be argued that they already accepted those views AND that the reasonable accommodation was made?
Furthermore, under Title VII, can A&E actually argue that allowing Phil Robertson’s views creates an “undue hardship,” given the profit that has been made so far and the potential LOSS of profit (undue hardship?) caused by the action of suspending/firing Phil Robertson?
A&E has in the past, asked the family to NOT “pray in Jesus’ name” and then allowed it to go forward on the air. Does that “reasonable accommodation” show that A&E was not only aware of but adhering to Title VII? A&E also is reported to have inserted “fake beeps” to give the impression that cast members were using foul language. Does this imply that A&E knew of and attempted to hide the religious views of the Robertson’s?
For the record, this is not a “free speech” issue, in the sense of the Government shutting down Phil Robertson’s rights. However, it IS a free speech and religious freedom issue in the sense that the Government has taken legislative action to PROTECT the speech and religious freedoms in the workplace of Americans and consequently has a responsibility to insure that ALL speech and religious views are protected under Title VII. If the Government can cherry pick which views and speech it will protect, the law (and the Constitution – Editor) is meaningless.
And that for me is the crux of the argument. Both sides are saying that this is NOT a “free speech” issue, but it is. If the Government is going to pass laws defining the protections of those freedoms, and if those laws apply to you and I in the workplace, and if the government – at any level – is granting benefits – then it de facto IS a 1st Amendment issue.
The courts have been pretty clear, if the production or the network is receiving a governmental benefit (i.e., tax credits) then adherence to Title VII is clearly not optional. (We are also into the question of establishment, aren’t we? – Editor) Hence the question how does A&E prove that Phil’s expression of his view represents an “undue hardship” to them, given the popularity and financial benefit to A&E of those views?
To the issue of hypocrisy, A&E claims that it supports the gay community, but how does that statement square with A&E’s profiting on the Robertson’s religious views – which were clear and apparent for all to see? A&E profited mightily by airing the religious views of the Robertson’s. How can they actually claim now that they “don’t agree” with those views (or at least defended them as “free speech” – Editor) and justify – under Title VII – a suspension for those views? Also, how does A&E continue to broadcast rerun versions of the show even after the suspension if they “don’t agree” with the shows values and principles?
Look for a whole bunch of “The Robertson’s you didn’t know” dark, behind the scenes, expose type articles and videos to come out. Nobody is truly pure, and the only option left now is to show the Robertson’s as “hypocrites” and even “liars” about their faith.
Is any of this as important as what the Senate did this week or my vacation plans for drinking lots of coffee, reading books and having sword fights and water hose play with Ben? (No – Editor)