The Duck Dynasty Debacle Continued

OK, so I wasn’t sure I should write the first post on this topic but I was pleasantly surprised with many of the comments I received. Yes, there where some who said I should die and others who said I was every bit as hateful as Phil. But most comments were serious and thoughtful and added a lot to the discussion. 

I received a tweet this morning about a high school teacher in southwest Ohio who has been suspended from his job for something he said. The person who sent me the tweet said he would like to see me defend this guy’s right to free speech and expressing his opinion.

A couple of things. First, I didn’t defend Phil’s right to free speech on the first post. Second, neither what Phil said or what this teacher is reported to have said are free speech issues. 

It seems a lot of folks don’t really understand the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It says and I paraphrase here, that you can say whatever you want. It’s doesn’t say anything about protection from being fired from your job for saying anything you want. 

The fact is, you can be fired for saying the sky is blue if your employer doesn’t like you saying it. So long as they fire everybody who says the sky is blue they have no problem.  All the First Amendment guarantees is that you won’t go to jail for saying it. 

Now, back to the tweet that put me on this topic. 

A high school teacher who allegedly responded to a black high school freshman that the nation doesn’t need another black president has been suspended. He responded to the freshman’s statement that his goal was to one day become President of the United States. The teacher’s board of education has indicated that the suspension is the first step in the firing process.

Since we already know this isn’t a freedom of speech issue let’s talk about his “right” to express his opinion. Many of the same people defending Phil’s “right” will be defending this teacher’s too but the situations are completely different.

Phil did what Phil is paid to do. He expressed how he felt, which is fine, and then he supported it with some outrageous comments. That’s reality TV. His network suspended him while taking what they described as the morale high ground and then caved like a cheap tent as soon as it became apparent that their position might cost them some money. 

The teacher did exactly what he isn’t paid to do. He isn’t paid to dash the hopes and dreams of his students. He is paid to teach, support, and mentor them. 

To be fair, I have no idea what the teacher really said, he claims the student has “misquoted” him. The only good thing for the teacher to have said to any student expressing such a worthy goal is something like this: “Well, good for you. Continue to work hard and you too can accomplish great things. I’m here to help you achieve your goal anyway I can.” 

I don’t know how that turns into anything near “we don’t need another black president” so the whole “misquoted” thing sounds weak to me. 

If it sounds like I’m holding the teacher to a higher standard than Phil you’re exactly right. If you don’t like what Phil says just change the channel. The student can’t change the channel. He is required to be there; the teacher is in a position of authority. The teacher is a leader and leaders willingly sacrifice certain “rights” in order to lead effectively. 

I don’t care what the teacher believes, he can believe and think whatever he wants. But   because he is in a position of authority he is also in a position of “imposing” his opinions on others. Because the student can’t “escape” the opinion of his teachers, the teachers should not be expressing those opinions while in the presence of their students. 

I hope this doesn’t become a big controversy because it shouldn’t. If what the teacher is alleged to have said is true, then the teacher said something really stupid. Does anybody really want a teacher like that teaching their kids? 

Maybe the teacher could start his own reality show, there are plenty of networks that could use one. 

The Duck Dynasty Debacle

I shouldn’t blog about this. Branding “experts” have warned me to stay away from topics like this. They tell me to stick with my core topics which I guess would be leadership, motivation and sales. But leaders don’t dodge tough subjects so I’ll just call this a leadership post.

I should begin by saying I’ve only seen a few minutes of Duck Dynasty, ever. I know people who absolutely love it and if you’ll pardon the pun, watch it religiously. I have nothing against it and the very little bit I’ve seen was funny but I’ve just never gotten into it.

I wonder how much “reality” is in this reality show and how much is actually made up. I mean can guys who do so well in business really do and say the ridiculous stuff that happens on every episode?   

Anyway, it’s nothing any of them have done on the show that has gotten them into trouble, it’s what the family patriarch said in a magazine interview. Phil Robertson said, and I paraphrase here, that the Bible has led him to believe that homosexuality is a sin. He said some other typical Duck Dynasty stuff but it was the earlier comment that has caused such a controversy. 

He was immediately and indefinitely suspended by the network that airs his family’s show. He has been ridiculed, pilloried, called hateful and compared with the worst of the human race. 

All this because he expressed an opinion. He didn’t say he hated anyone, didn’t judge anyone, didn’t say anyone was going to hell. He just said what he believed based on his understanding of the Bible. 

The network that has suspended him was well within their rights to do what they did. He said something they didn’t like and they benched him. No problem there; it might be a stupid decision but in the United States businesses make stupid decisions everyday, it’s a right. 

Just like expressing an opinion used to be. Used to be!

Today if you say something that someone or some group doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with you’re labeled a hater, a racist, a bigot, and a left or right wing fanatic. Whether you’re a left or right wing fanatic depends on who you offended, you can’t be both, at least not at the same time. 

I find this whole thing very confusing; this Robertson guy expresses an opinion and is labeled a bigot and hater. The groups calling him these names and in some cases threatening him and his family are doing nothing wrong. Saying what you believe, right or wrong, makes you a bigot. Threatening the person who has the courage of their convictions makes you a hero. 

Folks, there is something terribly wrong with that picture.

Now the network has a debacle on their hands. There is no way to let the guy back on the air without admitting they were wrong to suspend him. It’s not like he’s going to change his views any time soon. So either you let a person you’ve said is a bigot back on the air or you lose your most profitable show. 

I’ll say this for the network, they seem to be sticking to their guns, at least for now. If they put their principles over profits I would commend them for that, even if I disagree with them. I still believe in the freedom of speech that used to be commonplace in the United States.

They are certainly in better shape than the people at Cracker Barrel who pulled the Duck Dynasty products from the shelves and then put them back on 24 hours later. Nice work guys, I guess we know where you stand, well, maybe not. 

Now, here’s where I’m really going to get into trouble. I’m going to express an opinion. Here we go:

I think it’s okay to not like a particular group. I think it’s okay to not eat green vegetables. I think it’s good to think differently than everyone else. I think it’s just fine to express your opinion, even if it’s different than someone’s, or even everyone else’s. Wow, I guess that’s like 4 opinions, I guess I just got on a roll. 

So there you go, I expressed my thoughts and before you rip me for it remember this: if everyone thinks the same then somebody isn’t thinking.