I'm tired of people getting in trouble for expressing their opinions, popular or not. A person should say what they believe, and we should support their right to say it, whether we disagree or not. This is America.

Then again, I don't own a company that depends on revenue generated by quirky Louisiana duck hunters, who look like ZZ Top and believe homosexuality is wrong and Southern blacks were a lot happier back in the good old days.

Of course, we didn't technically know that about Phil Robertson -- the patriarch of the "Duck Dynasty," which happens to be one of A&E's most popular shows -- until this week, when details of an interview with GQ magazine spilled.

Phil Robertson in A&E’s Duck Dynasty.
Phil Robertson in A&E's Duck Dynasty. (A&E Networks)

The world got its collective drawers in a bunch when Robertson told GQ magazine that homosexuality is an illogical sin, a vagina is "more desirable than a man's anus," (uh ...), and lumped homosexuality in with bestiality.

He also reportedly said, regarding growing up near black farmers in the Jim Crow South, "I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' -- not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say, 'Were they happy?' They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."

Right. No black people in the South sang the blues ... the blues probably came from Scandinavia.

To be fair, he also said he loves all of humanity and will leave the judging to God in the end.


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OK, so Robertson said things many people find offensive. A&E responded by suspending him from "Duck Dynasty." They probably want to give the situation some breathing room.

"Duck Dynasty won't get shot out of the sky over this and shall fly for many more years to come," says Eric Schiffer the chairman of Reputation Management Consultants in Illinois, who said the controversy may actually help the show. "Many viewers who agree with (Robertson), which is a not insignificant portion of the show's audience, will likely find the show even more consistent to their internal value orientation."

That's what my email inbox thinks.

I wrote a couple items for this publication, basically spelling out the news. Readers came back with biblical lessons, tales of Robertson being oppressed and denied his free speech rights, and accusations of my being a member of the commie media.

Actually, I think the guy should be able to say what he wants, even if I disagree with the message. But he's not being oppressed. His Constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of speech is not being squashed. And he certainly is not -- as some people have accused -- being censored. How else would we have heard the remarks?

As much as Phil Robertson has the right to say what he said, A&E also has the right to decide whether they want to be associated with him and his opinions. Companies exist to make money, not to allow employees to chase away advertisers and customers. If you stood in front of your office tossing around similar "opinions," would you be surprised if your boss came out and told you to hit the bricks?

You can't have it both ways. Some of us might not agree with the idea that corporations are people too -- a concept defended the past few years by people who are now screaming that Phil Robertson's rights are being trampled. But it's a no-brainer that a business has the right to associate itself with whomever and whatever ideas it sees fit, as long as it's not discriminating against individuals simply because of their religion, color, ethnic background, sexual preference (though that may not be true in all states), or physical disability.

Phil Robertson was not censored. Government officials didn't throw him in jail for what he said -- which Americans seem to forget happens in far too many other countries. This is America, where we can say pretty much what we want. Robertson did say it, he had the right to say it, he exercised that right and can keep saying it until the day he dies.

But where does it say that freedom of speech doesn't have consequences?

Ask Tiger Woods about what happened to his income once he was exposed as a perfectly legal adulterer. No one screamed about poor Tiger.

I don't necessarily think Robertson should lose his job, but both sides of that debate have merit. I do think A&E has every right to disassociate itself from him. That's also free speech, like it or not.

Contact Tony Hicks at Thicks@BayAreaNewsGroup.com, Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks or Twitter.com/insertfoot.