A few weeks ago I wrote an article for Charisma that supported A&E’s right to suspend Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. It seems that many agreed with my interpretation of the First Amendment, as the article was shared nearly 6,000 times. However, I received some pretty stiff rebukes in the comments section.
It seemed to me that many simply read the provocative title (I Support A&E’s Right to Censure Phil Robertson—But ...) and assumed they understood the following 935 words, without actually reading them. One person actually referred to me as “a liberal Jew who hates Christians.” (When, in fact, I am a conservative Messianic Jew who loves Christians!)
However, despite the fierce reactions of many, the advice given in the article—five ways in which we should respond—proved to be effective. I also stated that the Constitution does not guarantee that you will not be fired from your job when you use your constitutional right of freedom of speech.
I was concerned that many were seeing this culture war as a war on the Constitution, and thus not understanding the clear and right way to win—which is by attacking the pocket book, not bringing lawsuits.
The Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
A&E is not Congress—therefore it is impossible that Phil Robertson’s First Amendment rights were abused. Furthermore, public figures—such as actors, professional athletes, news anchors and commentators, almost always have a clause in their contract, which says the employer can fire the employee if they deem their behavior detrimental to the employer.
This is why there are no civil rights suits when a football player is released for actions off the field. Alec Baldwin was released from his new show, “Up Late with Alec Baldwin,” (who in their right mind would want to be up late with Alec Baldwin—with his temper!?) on MSNBC when he unleashed a curse-laden tirade at a photographer. (In truth, had he not added the gay slur at the end, his employers would have most likely overlooked his crude language.)
This is also why Phil Robertson and his family never talked about suing A&E.
But friends, this is what is great about America! We are free to speak our minds. We are also free to fire people for speaking their minds if we feel it harms our business! And we have many ways to put pressure on companies like A&E to get them to come to their fiscal senses. (To be clear, in most jobs, you can not be fired for your views outside the workplace—it would be a violation of your civil rights—but not for public figures.)
Cracker Barrel Did What?!
As suggested in the blog (and by many more people around the country with much larger audiences), the way to fight back was simply to be louder than GLAAD. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is not huge, but they are loud, and they wasted no time in pressuring A&E to censure Phil Robertson.
In fact, they were so swift and efficient they even convinced the family-friendly Cracker Barrel to remove Duck Dynasty items. When I heard that, I nearly fell out of my chair. I told my father that Cracker Barrel will reverse course in 24 hours when they hear from their patrons. I may have been off a day.
I mean, who eats and shops at Cracker Barrel? Bruce Springsteen and Lady Gaga? I think not! Cracker Barrel is as Middle America as you can get. They are the Duck Dynasty mega-demographic. So why in the world would executives at the family-friendly chain make such a stupid, bonehead decision? Simple: They were intimidated by GLAAD. The gay lobby is powerful, loud and effective, and that is the lesson believers in America must learn!
Let’s be clear, preaching the gospel and bringing more people into the kingdom is the most effective way to turn the tide. But apart from that, believing consumers need to inform companies that there is a price to pay for anti-faith stances.
Angry consumers let Cracker Barrel know how they felt and by Sunday workers were restocking shelves with the effigy of the "evil" Phil Robertson. Cracker Barrel got the message:
"When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that's just what we've done.
"You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren't shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong."
Thanks to the hard work of the Faith Driven Consumer who quickly created the IStandWithPhil.com site, which had 200,000 members in four days, A&E began to feel the pressure in their pocketbook. And very quietly, on a late, lazy Friday after Christmas, A&E, with their tail between their proverbial legs, released a statement reinstating the Duck Dynasty patriarch.
It's All About the Money, Money, Money!
Let’s be clear. A&E and Cracker Barrel do not care about gays. They do not care about a left-wing agenda. They are not concerned with family values. It means nothing to them. They represent neither the red nor blue states—they are green (and I’m not talking about the environment!) They want to make money! While I do believe that Hollywood has an agenda to shape American culture in an ungodly way, they will only continue to do that if it is profitable.
Blogger and radio host Brian Joyce summed it up nicely, “Whether or not we approve of what these people say doesn't matter. In America, we express our approval with our wallets. Money determines the winner, profits are chosen over people, and A&E, just like any profit-conscious business in America, makes its decisions accordingly. This is how America works.”
We learned that we are large, we can be loud, and turning the other cheek doesn’t mean allowing gay rights groups to determine the direction of our culture. This was a huge victory for those who hold to Biblical values. But it doesn’t stop here. We need to take a wrecking ball to Miley Cyrus’ lewd music (meaning don’t buy it!) and put our dollars behind faith-based entertainment. The entertainment industry has taken us for granted. Maybe now things will change.
But again… All this is behind our primary priority of preaching the Good News. Seeing revival in America will make this blog irrelevant. Wouldn’t that be great!
Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.