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Duck Dynasty’s Freedom of Speech

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.