Friday, December 20, 2013

Does A&E Have Any First Amendment Values Responsibilty

Well Duck Dynasty is the news !

Lets talk about the first amendment and the head of the Duck CLAN

There was a post at Pastor Alana Rudick blog called Duck Dynasty, free speech, and persecution . I largely agree with him that A & E is not an Government actor and when people tsay the Duck Commander's first amendment rights are violated they are very legally incorrect from what we no so far.

 I do think there have been SOME that have are confused on that point.

However I think a good many MORE are doing what is actually quite commonplace . That is using the term first amendment to also represent the important role that certain guardians of this most important fight have .
That includes newspapers, private universities , the art world , and indeed the entertainment industry. None of these are Government actors but they are important stewards of the First Amendment. They have very much benefited from it that is for sure and there used to be at least some recognition that had a responsibility in this matter.

Now I am not sure where A&;E fits on this spectrum. I have not reviewed A&;E programs in a while to get a good sense how dedicated they are to the art world and the entertainment issues.

However I do think that with the history of censorship of arts and actors since time immemorial the issue is worthy of discussion among their heads. .

On the other hand a good bit of this depends on how A&E presents and sells itself.   We see this in the context of private universities. I would argue Vanderbilt has more first amendment value  responsibilities than say Liberty University. That is because place like Vandy sell themselves more as place where a wide range of political , religious , and social thought are more acceptable.

 So I get that A&E is not PBS . I understand  its a private actor like the New Orleans Picayune  and we expect more of one than the other .

However  where they fall on the spectrum of  " guardians " is worth discussing .


SJ Reidhead said...

Evidently the repulsive creature has a standard morals clause, that he can't say or do anything that reflects poorly on A&E. He violated his contract. Funny how the right cries about capitalism, but when a company tries to protect its bottom line, they're violating the jerk's freedom of speech. I guess there's consistency, some place, but not on the far right. I'm enjoying it. Can't stand these people, never have. I always thought they were repulsive.


Anonymous said...

I don't have cable TV, and did not know who these people were until after the marketplace was flooded with their merchandise. This whole controversy was likely manufactured to make martyrs out of them, and thereby to move that merchandise.

But Robertson's statements about vagina versus anus were just a small part of his offensive diatribe. He claimed that no black person had been harmed under the Jim Crow system of segregation or apartheid. He says the Blacks were happy and godly people before they were ruined by civil rights. This is, of course, a very common way of thinking in North Louisiana, just as Holocaust denial is common among Nazis.

If A & E wants to provide a platform for these people to promote these beliefs, then that is their business, and if they want to disassociate themselves from it, then that is also their business.

Rick67 said...

SJ's point about contract violations is a fair one, but has at least two other sides. First, who exactly decides what "reflects badly"? This is a weak point, because probably A&E does, and it doesn't matter whether they're right or not. Second, this will not protect their bottom line, if A&E loses the show to another network, they will *lose* money. Third, the "but capitalism" defense cuts both ways, I know people who are quite "progressive" and critical of "capitalism" (slippery and often ill defined term) who because of this incident suddenly turn into champions of the rights of corporations. (Are we seriously arguing Freedom of Business over freedom of speech? I'm not saying this is strictly speaking a First Amendment case, what amazes me is the sudden support for Capitalism over the Individual.) Fourth, why can't a business choose to be generous and support the *spirit* of freedom of speech? "We don't like what he said, but hey, we believe in freedom of thought, speech". Ace of Spades HQ makes this point nicely: "Yes, A&E has the right to suspend Phil Robinson. A&E also has the right to stand up for a broad and generous principle of Freedom of Thought and Expression." I refrain from noting the contempt that SJ displays towards Phil Robertson, calling into question whose rhetoric is worse.

Rick67 said...

Let me briefly respond to Anonymous as well. Without debating the merits of Robertson's comments on African-American life in the past, I think it's important to distinguish between what someone actually said versus how others *characterize* what was said.