My friend Anthony Trent posted this status on his Facebook profile and gave me permission to reprint it here. I’m interested in your thoughts on this approach.
I STAND WITH A&E.
I’m sorry if this is offensive to anyone, but let me explain. Conservatives are missing a perfect opportunity to re-frame the discussion about tolerance and employer rights. To be clear, I think the story itself is important. I think the role of marriage is a vital discussion we need to have. But I think we’re not addressing some crucial implications about public policy the Robertson controversy has. The suspension of Phil Robertson is not a free speech issue. The government is not censoring him. Here’s why Republican pundits are absolutely blundering this controversy:
Every poll suggests Americans are becoming more in favor of gay marriage. Social conservatives aren’t going to be persuasive by whining about a Duck Dynasty celebrity’s suspension. Instead, social commentators should take the focus off gay marriage and focus on a more fundamental matter. . .
Imagine this evening a news network features a round table discussion of Robertson’s remarks about homosexuality. When the host asks what the Republican thinks about the A&E decision, he gives a surprising answer:
“I one-hundred percent affirm the rights of A&E to suspend Robertson. A&E, a for-profit company, has stated they can’t put Robertson on air because he violates their ‘values.’ I couldn’t agree more. No employer should have to violate their moral and religious convictions, much less on an important issue like sexuality. So, will you all join me in standing up for the values of various for-profit and non-profit entities? Will you fight for the freedom of Hobby Lobby to not provide life-terminating drugs and contraceptives that violate their personally held convictions? Will you speak up for the Catholic schools to keep their legal right to fire teachers if they aren’t living out the doctrinal teachings of sexuality? After all, if A&E can fire a contracted employee for violating their beliefs on sexuality, can’t the Catholic Church?”
See how this could totally put the ball in our court when it comes to religious freedom? A&E’s choice to suspend helps, not hurts us. We are missing an opportunity to talk about the meaning of tolerance. Is it truly tolerant of all viewpoints? Is it willing to promote rights for people of the same position, regardless of political persuasion? This is why conservatism is losing. It can’t play smart in politics right now. I stand with A&E, but I stand with Phil too.