The A&E suspension of Phil Robertson is outrageous, unjustified, and a threat to free expression and fairness.The key issue isn’t freedom of speech: the First Amendment in no way protects us from consequences if we say something untrue or irresponsible in a public forum.
The key issue here is the misrepresentation of Robertson’s remarks. He didn’t say anything “vile” or “hateful.” The most controversial remarks involved two propositions that aren’t in any genuine sense controversial: first the contention (in medically precise language) that most men instinctively prefer a female’s intimate equipment to the male rear end and, second, a reasonably accurate paraphrase of the New Testament Book of 1st Corinthians.
It’s bad enough when public figures face a lynch mob mentality for edgy, provocative remarks. It’s even worse when a public figures faces the nooses, pitchforks and torches based upon an irresponsible mischaracterization of his words.
Neither paraphrasing scripture nor expressing a personal preference for female over male body parts constitute the crossing of any known red line in public discourse. A & E’s shameful over-reaction crosses every red line of sanity, decency and fairness. It amounts to nothing less than grotesque media malpractice.