Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson may be back on the show thanks to a sudden reversal by A&E, the network that airs the popular “reality” program, but some conservative fans say simply reinstating the Robertson clan patriarch is not enough.
They want A&E to embrace the biblical values and respect faith-based consumers.
Robertson was suspended from Duck Dynasty after he was quoted in GQ Magazine making controversial comments about homosexuals.
But, rights such as free speech outlined in the U.S. Constitution are protected only from infringement by governmental entities. Private employers may generally punish employees for speech they deem objectionable and regulate speech on their private property.
The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” The actions of a privately owned cable television network against a contract employee were not the same as a law passed by Congress.
A&E is part of A+E Networks, which in turn is jointly owned by two giant media corporations, the Hearst Corporation and Disney-ABC Television Group.
However, the conservative Christian group that started an online petition in support of Robertson, istandwithphil.com, now says it wants A&E to do more than simply put the Duck Dynasty star back on the air.
“Despite our celebration, we remain uncertain of A&E’s true intent,” wrote Chris Stone, the founder of the petition group Faith Driven Consumer.
“Do they (A&E) also now embrace the biblically based values and worldview held by the Robertson family and millions of Faith Driven Consumers?” Stone wrote in a statement cited on the ABC News website.
In A&E’s statement announcing Robertson’s reinstatement after a suspension that lasted only about a week, the network said it had consulted with “numerous advocacy groups.” But Stone was skeptical that those groups included conservative Christian organizations such as his own.
“We eagerly anticipate A&E’s naming of those groups to ensure that our community was included,” he wrote.
On the other side, the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD called on A&E to make the Duck Dynasty star available to be questioned about his views on the defamation of gay people.
“If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A+E has chosen profits over African American and gay people — especially its employees and viewers,” the group said in a statement of its own.