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  • December 21st, 2013

The Bearded Facebook

By Joel M. Vance

The Facebook folks, many of whom seem to have far more time on their hands than is productive for society or their mental health, have been clogging the site with virulent defense of Phil Robertson, the hirsute and suspended A&E Network Duck Dynasty celebrity.

Duck Dynasty, for those of you who have been secluded in a bomb shelter or perhaps a padded cell for a while, is a show on the A&E network about a family whose male members long ago lost their Norelcos and who have made a fortune selling duck calls.  That’s all I know about the show because in order for me to watch it, I would have to be bound and gagged, held at gunpoint and threatened with dismemberment.

Robertson is the patriarch of this hairy clan from ‘way down South who was featured and quoted in an article in Gentleman’s Quarterly lashing out at gay people as the Devil’s spawn.  Predictably that brought out the venom in his supporters, of whom there are many, defending his right to free speech and more often than not his intolerant remarks as an expression of Christian values.  He is in their eyes, a role model of the ideal family patriarch, a sort of White Trash Father Knows Best and also a role model Christian standing up for God, motherhood and the redneck way of life.

The comments on Facebook were unanimously in support of Robertson and most also endorsed his extreme views on gays, while a few more moderate types defended only his right to free speech under the Constitution’s First Amendment.   All condemned the suspension as if it were an indication of the nation’s future—a case of rescuing national virtue to stave off a descent into Godless infamy.

Lost in the brouhaha over his venom toward gays was an equally offensive shot at African Americans who were, according to him, a whole lot happier as slaves than they are today as free citizens.  That alone should have tainted any credibility he might have had as a social critic, but it hasn’t.   The Facebook lynch mob is ready to string up A&E and anyone who criticizes their redneck role model.  It’s all done in the name of God, the Bible and Jesus and they equate Robertson as the modern day emissary of Christian behavior.

For the record, here’s what Robertson said about African Americans: , “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person [in the pre-civil rights era South]. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Now if that isn’t an echo of 1950s White Citizens Council-speak nothing is.  I spent an uncomfortable couple of years in Montgomery during the civil rights era and I heard similar comments from white people on an almost daily basis.   “We love the nigras,” said the society editor of the newspaper where I worked.  She went on to explain how well-treated black people were in Alabama and elsewhere in the South and how happy they’d be if they’d just accept their lot.  Just down the street, Martin Luther King was preaching at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and it was not about how happy he and his flock were.

And I detasseled seed corn with African Americans in the 1950s and they were poor, segregated in all but the cornfield, and I never heard any of them singing out of the sheer happiness of being in a sweltering corn field, making $.50/hour.  They were miserable just like me.  I would swear on a stack of Robertson’s Bibles that those folks were feeling the blues, not singing them.

In case you missed it, here’s what Robertson said about gays: ““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.”  Somehow that comes across as a pretty demeaning remark about women too, although I haven’t heard any outrage from the female defenders of this quintessential redneck.

As an aside, scientists say that the more a man thinks about sex the faster his beard grows.  This is because of a surge in testosterone caused by the lascivious daydreaming.  Take a look at Robertson’s furry chin and make your own judgment on how much time he spends thinking about what my favorite humorist H. Allen Smith called “ferkytootling.”  Don’t even have to read GQ.

The one point that the Facebook mob has right is that Robertson has a perfect right to say what he pleases, however offensive.  The First Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights protects the right to shoot off one’s mouth in all sorts of unpleasant ways without fear of reprisal.  Of course, A&E suspended Robertson for his GQ diatribe, so I guess that’s reprisal of sorts, but he was well within his rights to say what he did.  As to whether the show will suffer as a result, I can only hope so.  But shows come and go; unfortunately prejudice remains.  It’s just more hidden these days, but scratch the surface of a substantial sub-culture of American society and you’ll uncover the festering prejudices beneath.  Robertson merely exhaled a breath of foul air from the extremists’ musty and polluted burrow.

As an aside, a court has ruled that National Security Agency snooping into phone conversations and emails of private citizens is a violation of the First Amendment.  It probably will go to the Supreme Court and given the 5-4 conservative makeup of the present court chances are that court will overturn the lower court ruling, giving the NSA carte blanche to peek into your private conversations.   Now that’s something that the Facebook gang should get upset about, but I haven’t seen any outrage yet.  They’re too busy bashing liberals, progressives, gay folks and other anti-God entities to worry about their personal freedoms.  On the one hand they lash out at government for coddling gays; on the other they endorse government’s heavy hand on their personal freedom in the name of freedom.  Makes no damn sense, but what does these days?

Duck Dynasty is a piece of television crap, the reality show brought to its creative knees.  It has plenty of company as chewing-gum-for-the-mind entertainment among the other contrived “reality” entries which are about as real as fairy tales—including some I like very much.  Haven’t watched DD and won’t, although I love duck hunting and the calling thereof.   I once hunted with a Cajun duck call maker and enjoyed myself immensely.  He was clean-shaven, funny and didn’t rub my nose in bigoted bullflop.   But I can’t get excited about watching the manufactured antics of a bunch of backwoods clowns.  I’d much rather watch reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies which  didn’t pretend to be real life in the boondocks.  And Jed Clampett never posed as a religious philosopher passing judgment on fellow members of society as immoral.

Come and listen to his story, never mind the stupid one blown through a duck caller.

-30-

 

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2 Comments

  1. Smitty

    December 21st, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Reply

    Thanks, Joel, for a real dose of reality.

  2. Clora Ivins

    December 21st, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Reply

    Duck Dynasty is definitely just a cash cow. Great article!



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