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Duck Dynasty’s Freedom of Speech

on December 20, 2013

I am intrigued by the very vocal support being given to Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson for his recent public comments against the gay population.  I hear many people shouting about his right to Freedom of Speech and the cries against the cable channel A&E for suspending him. 


Freedom of Speech is the first of the 10 Amendments in our Bill of Rights.  Over the years, there have been MANY cases tried in the courts addressing both sides of the issue of free speech.  The bottom line is really quite simple….  In our country, protected by the Bill of Rights, you can say just about anything to almost anyone about nearly any topic you choose.  The First Amendment may very well cover your right to say it or write it.  But, you will most likely find yourself accountable for what you said or wrote at some level. 


If you choose to speak poorly about your employer, you may be terminated.  If you choose to speak against another, you may be sued for slander or liable.  Our right to free speech doesn’t free us from being accountable for what we said and how we said it. 


Celebrities, regardless of their level of popularity, are frequently in front of a microphone and often speak their opinions.  If they are thoughtful of their fan base, and savvy to the ways of influencing people and earning more fans, they will choose their words wisely and deliver their message with respect and meaning.  If, however, they speak without the filter of common decency, they will most certainly be held accountable for their statements. 


I have never watched an episode of Duck Dynasty nor do I have any desire to do so.  I have no idea who Phil Robertson is or what he stands for.  I don’t need to know.  I respect his right to express his opinion.  However, I also respect his employer’s decision to suspend him.  A&E is a business and is in business to make money.  They know the stats and understand over 70% of Americans support gay rights.  Which also means a large majority of those Americans would be offended by those comments.  Ignoring disparaging remarks like those could mean loss of viewership and revenue to A&E.  For those who are calling for a boycott of A&E – what do you hope to gain?  Viewership of your beloved Duck Dynasty will drop and the show will be cancelled.  Is that your intention? 


Yes, we have the right to share our opinions and express our sentiments.  And, we must be willing to be accountable for sharing them as well.  Freedom of Speech is not Freedom From Accountability. 

9 Responses to “Duck Dynasty’s Freedom of Speech”

  1. Timothy O Back says:

    Tell me were you got number from 70% and are you atheist

    • Barbette Spitler says:

      The statistic was recently published and share on the news this week. The use of the number was just to show the business decision A&E made was a financial one. I am not atheist…actually quite the opposite. However, I did not speak to my religious views. The blog was specific to free speech.

  2. Tony Bowman says:

    The loss of Viewership is coming when Duck Dynasty goes off the Channel. That was I Believe the Number One Cable Show! Now that’s a loss of Viewership. Also, Yes I do wish to gain my Viewership of the Show back and they resolve this.

  3. Kim Stamper says:

    I teach sixth graders that with our rights, we have responsibilities. With freedom of speech hopefully comes the responsibility of speaking respectfully and mindfully. I will add in that accountability comes either way. I like that.

    • Barbette Spitler says:

      Understanding accountability at the young age of 6th grade will help as they mature into adulthood. It seems silly that we have so little understanding of it in our culture.

  4. So true. Many only get the “rights” part of the equation.

  5. Crystal Kline says:

    Nicely written, nicely expressed. Freedom of speech means that you can speak your mind about anything you like without fear of the government throwing you in jail for your opinions. It does not mean that you can’t be held accountable for what you say. Your point about A&E being a business is well-stated. I recently found myselfat a business dinner gathering where the talk was all about Phil Robertson and A&E. Due to my location in the buckle of the Bible Belt, it was not a surprise to me to hear that most of the people at my table (and I daresay in the room), took Robertson’s side, threw the phrase “freedom of speech” around, and spoke of boycotting A&E. I said nothing, though I am highly opinionated, and felt I had logic and reason on my side. Then why did I say nothing? Because I was at that dinner representing my employer, whose opinions I most definitely did not represent. I wasn’t about to embarrass him, or endanger my job, and in no way did I feel that my right to freedom of speech was being restricted. Phil Robertson, as an employee of A&E, represents them when he speaks publicly. He should expect that what he says reflects on them, and choose his words more carefully, unless he doesn’t care about whether or not he loses his job.