It should come to no one's surprise that noted freedom fighter Sarah Palin would come to the defense of Phil Robertson, the Bible-thumping patriarch of A&E's smash hit, Duck Dynasty. The reality TV star has been indefinitely suspended this week for his offensive remarks, which have been well-documented in the latest issue of GQ. Though writer Drew Magary was more than happy to sample the duck hunter's nuggets of bigoted wisdom, Robertson has been hit with a media backlash — a gross infringement on his freedom of speech, according to Palin.
Free speech is endangered species; those "intolerants" hatin' & taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) December 19, 2013
She then went on Facebook to post the same quote and a photo of herself with the Duck Dynasty crew:
What's interesting about Palin's choice of words is the way she equates criticism with censorship. She doesn't call out A&E's decision to suspend Robertson, but rather attacks the "intolerants" who are trying to silence a man for simply stating his opinion. But Palin's blanket endorsement of the First Amendment seems to apply only to her friends — and not to her critics, like Martin Bashir.
The response was overwhelmingly negative. After two weeks of deliberation, Bashir decided of his own accord to leave the program. When Palin was asked about the outcome, she had some choice advice: "Those with that platform, with a microphone, a camera in their face, they have to have some more responsibility taken," she said on Fox & Friends.
But Palin apparently doesn't feel as though this "responsibility" applies to Robertson. While he is not a professional commentator like Bashir, he arguably has a bigger platform than the MSNBC host, who at his peak still could not reach a million viewers. (Duck Dynasty regularly pulls in around 14 million viewers a week.) And though Bashir's comments were certainly vile and inappropriate, they were directed at a single individual, whereas Robertson made wildly offensive remarks that ranged from racist to homophobic.
Most importantly, Bashir took responsibility for his actions, writing a public mea culpa and resigning from the network. Robertson, for his part, issued a non-apology to FOX411: "My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together," he wrote in a statement.
While the actions of both of these men are reprehensible, the point is that Palin should apply the same standard of free speech across the board: she cannot condemn the words of a misogynist then condone the words of a racist/homophobe, and expect people to take her crusade seriously. If she actually believes that offensive words should never be challenged, then her critics should not be stopped either.