I have played the coward, and, to my chagrin, I will probably play this role again. However, this doesn’t mean I’m about to make peace with cowardice. It’s shameful and represents the triumph of compromise over character and integrity. It’s also provides only a short-lived triumph.
After the media began to trumpet Phil Robertson’s “homophobic” remarks, Cracker Barrel played the coward and pulled Duck Dynasty’s products:
· One company, Cracker Barrel had dropped the Louisiana family. But after threats of a boycott, they almost immediately reversed their decision, releasing a statement, saying:
· “You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores. And, we apologize for offending you.”
Offending Duck Dynasty is only a secondary issue. The real issue is the underlying principle – free speech and the protection of our 1st Amendment rights. A&E and Cracker have proved themselves unwilling to protect these and instead cut the Duck’s throat for having the courage to express his sincere beliefs, even when offered in a context of love. In essence, they have warned:
- You do not have the right to express your convictions, even off the job. If your opinions do not conform to ours, we will punish you.
It is bad enough to play the coward. However, it is even more contemptible to dress cowardice with a cloak of social concern and sensitivity, as if Cracker’s prime concern was for its clientele, instead of its own welfare, as if to say:
- We were just trying to serve you, our valued clients, by not offending you with Duck products. Please understand that we made this move on your behalf, but now that you have expressed yourselves otherwise, we want to show you how responsive we are to your concerns!
In contrast to Cracker’s cowardice and compromise, Phil Robertson has stood firm in his convictions, even when faced with the prospect of loosing millions. In a recent magazine interview, he affirmed: “I will not give or back off from my path.” In this Sunday’s Bible class, he restated his stance:
- I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater
- I have been immoral, drunk, high. I ran with the wicked people for 28 years and I have run with the Jesus people since and the contrast is astounding.
- I tell people, "You are a sinner, we all are. Do you want to hear my story before I give you the bottom line on your story?"
- We murder each other and we steal from one another, sex and immorality goes ballistic. All the diseases that just so happen to follow sexual mischief… boy there are some microbes running around now.
- Sexual sins are numerous and many, I have a few myself. So what is your safest course of action? If you’re a man, find yourself a woman, marry them and keep your sex right there.
- When you look back at the human race, the sins have always been the same: We get high, we get drunk, we get laid, we steal and kill.
- Has this changed at all from the time God burnt up whole cities because their every thought was evil?’
You might disagree with Phil’s remarks. You might think him crude. However, if he does not have the right to express such sentiments without fear of loosing job and reputation, then none of us are safe. At some point, most of us will run afoul of the thought police and the cowards who support them. Besides, the elimination of free speech becomes an invitation to any bully to take control and enforce his own totalitarian scheme.
We are all responsible to defend the liberties that have made this nation what it is. If we are willing to deny rights when their expression runs counter to our inclinations, then these rights will eventually disappear, and we will all suffer. The temptation to be a Cracker is within all of us and must be resisted. No society can long endure if focused only on self-interest at the expense of the higher principles.
At Gettysburg, Pa, Abraham Lincoln spoke out against physical slavery. We are confronted with another form of slavery – the slavery of thought and words. Although this latter form makes no use of iron chains, its chains are equally threatening to freedom and integrity.