I’m not generally a morning person, but when one of my clients wants a consultation in my downtown office at 6:00 AM, it’s my professional duty to be there, and this morning, I was. Very few of my clients are like that, however, so after completing a ninety minute meeting with a ramrod stiff colonel from the Defense Intelligence Agency, there was another hour before my next appointment, which I intended to fill by working on an analysis of US coal trade with China.
No sooner had I loaded the data, however, than the phone rang – it went straight through to me, of course, because Gretchen doesn’t usually get in until 8:00. It seems that, like the fellow from the DIA whom I hosted at six, Phil Robertson, the patriarch of America’s Number One Cable Reality Television Show, is also a morning person.
Robertson: Hello? This Tom Collins?
Tom: This is he. With whom am I speaking?
Robertson: This here’s Phil Robertson, from Duck Dynasty.
Tom: It’s a pleasure to hear from you, sir. May I ask how you got the telephone number of my office here in Washington DC?
Robertson: Ron Paul gave it to me. He’s a big fan of the show, you know – loves duck huntin’, too.
Tom: I see, well, I must remember to thank him. How may I help you this morning?
Robertson: Uh, first of all, I guess I ought to check out what Ron told me, that you don’t charge nothin’ for the first… um… ah… whatchacallit…
Tom: Consultation. Yes, that’s correct.
Robertson: And you make money doin’ that?
Tom: Oh, definitely. My repeat business after free initial consultations is quite substantial.
Robertson: Huh. I hear you charge an arm and a leg for advice.
Tom: My clients get what you pay for, sir. What’s on your mind?
Robertson: You watch the show?
Tom: To tell the truth, sir, I don’t watch a whole lot of television. But I did sit through one episode of your show while visiting my sister’s home in Fairfax, Virginia. She has a large family, and one of the kids fell out of a tree and had to be taken to the emergency room, so she asked me to watch the other children who were home at the time while she took care of the situation. While she was gone, I watched an entire episode with several of the kids.
Robertson: Which one?
Tom: The one where Duck Commander, Incorporated shipped off one thousand of the wrong model duck calls and only had three of the correct models in stock; however, nobody but your son Willie was at the factory because everybody else was out catching Opelousas catfish and breaking up beaver dams.
Robertson: Oh, yeah, that one – and then we went out catchin’ frogs that night, for Miss Kay’s Commander’s Kitchen Cookin’ DVD.
Tom: Yes – the kids just loved it.
Robertson: How many of them were there?
Tom: Eleven of them.
Robertson: Oh yeah? How old?
Tom: Between the ages of four and nine.
Robertson: What? They all your sister’s?
Tom: No, five of them were her sister-in-law’s kids.
Robertson: Sounds like a pretty large family you got there.
Tom: This is true – in addition to the ones I was minding at the time, there are a number of infants, toddlers, tweens and teenagers, too.
Robertson: Y’all are Catholics, aren’t you?
Tom: As a matter of fact, we are. But be that as it may, I confirm that I have viewed one episode of Duck Dynasty, under the circumstances I just described.
Robertson: You said the kids liked it. How’d you like it?
Tom: I consider Duck Dynasty to be an excellent illustration of Sarnoff’s Second Law.
Robertson: What’s that?
Tom: Well, Sarnoff’s First Law is that the value of a broadcast is directly proportional to its number of viewers.
Robertson: Which makes Duck Dynasty pretty valuable, right?
Robertson: So what’s this feller’s Second Law say?
Tom: That nobody ever lost a dime underestimating the taste or intelligence of the American public. Could I ask again, sir, why you called?
Robertson: ‘Cause the A and E Network done thrown me off the show! You have heard about that, ain’t you?
Tom: I suspect that the only people who haven’t heard about it all live in the upper Amazon, the Namib desert or in the interior valleys of New Guinea. The story goes that you gave an interview to GQ Magazine, in which you stated, with respect to your days as a youth in Louisiana, quote, “The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field together and they’re singing and happy. 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.” And, it is said, that when discussing gay rights issues with the interviewer, you declared, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men – don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Robertson: You got one of them photographic memories or something?
Tom: Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. But I won’t quote exactly what you said next, however, referring to the relative attractions of various parts of the male and female anatomy, only note that you followed that comment with, “I’m just thinking, there’s more there. She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: it’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Robertson: Okay, well, we got the right of free speech in the country, ain’t we?
Tom: We do indeed – but just because you have the right to do something doesn’t necessarily mean that doing it is a good idea, and it apparently wasn’t in your case. Now I know that the Arts and Entertainment Network is partially owned by Disney, and one would think that would imply a family-values orientation. Besides, nearly half of Americans agree with your assessment about homosexuality, or at least that’s what the latest polls show. But the gay lobby is very powerful these days, and what you said about gay people is tantamount to proclaiming that they’re all equivalent to criminals and God Almighty is going send all of them straight to hell. Maybe you would be surprised to learn how many gay people work for Disney and the Arts and Entertainment Network?
Robertson: And maybe I wouldn’t. All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists? Zero. That’s eighty years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.
Tom: That analysis tends to overlook a number of things, among them the Inquisition, the Thirty Years War, the Tudor persecutions, the Czarist pogroms, the…
Robertson: That’s the History Channel! Duck Dynasty is on A-and-E!
Tom: So it is. What about that assertion you made concerning how happy black people were in the South when you were a young man, working in the cotton fields alongside them? First of all, you have to realize that even though you are sixty-seven years of age, a lot of people who read or hear what you said simply aren’t going to believe that anybody, anywhere in the United States of America hoed cotton by hand when you were young, even if you began farm work at the age of ten, which would have been about 1956. I believe it, though, because you’re from Louisiana, where I know that, even in the 1950’s, there were still plenty of small cotton farms using hand labor. But I also know that in Louisiana in the 1950’s, if a black person so much as said a word against the whites, that black person would end up beaten senseless if not murdered outright by the Ku Klux Klan, the local Citizens’ Council, or similar local white supremacist organization. So did it ever occur to you that the reason you never heard any complaints about white people from your black coworkers was that they were afraid of what might happen to them if they voiced their thoughts of what they really felt and believed about life in the Jim Crow South and you, a poor white, were to tell other poor whites – or worse, rich ones – what they said?
Robertson: What do you think?
Tom: I think it’s obvious you didn’t, or you would never have interpreted the situation the way you did. You’re not alone, of course – Paula Deen is about the same age as you, she grew up in the Jim Crow South, and she, likewise, never heard any black people complain about anything.
Robertson: Paul Deen is a really good cook!
Tom: So she is, and if a person is willing to run fifteen miles a day, or, as you do, engage in ten to twelve hours of strenuous manual labor in a swamp, they will burn off enough calories so that eating food made from her recipes doesn’t kill them.
Robertson: Well, irregardless of all that, I’m no hater. Maybe some of my unfiltered comments to that GQ reporter were coarse, but my beliefs come from the Bible. I’m a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments, you gotta love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor like you love yourself. And besides, lots of folks have been stickin’ up for me.
Tom: They have indeed. Bobby Jinal, the governor of your home state of Louisiana, declared that, “the politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with,” and Sarah Palin wrote, in her own inimitable way on Twitter, “Free speech is an endangered species: Those intolerants hating and taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all,” which I’m sure most people understand as a supportive statement of some kind or another. Sean Hannity said, “What Phil Robertson expressed was probably more old fashioned, traditional Christian sentiment value – whether you like it or not,” and Ann Coulter’s analysis is that your suspension actually hurts the gay cause.
Tom: Well, Coulter’s reasoning is that to have what she calls “an angry gay mafia” gang up on you and demand your suspension was so extreme it makes them look like bigots.
Tom: And Megyn Kelly is calling for a debate on the decision. Glenn Beck said that if Arts and Entertainment doesn’t want to keep Duck Dynasty, then his own Blaze television network will be glad to host it. And Rush Limbaugh called the backlash “another case of mock outrage,” and asked, if there is no God, as he says the liberals all believe, then “why worry about what some backwoods hick on a duck show says?”
Robertson: That’s good, but I kinda wish that Limbaugh guy coulda put that another way, though. Plus, you forgot – there was Stephen Colbert, who said it was a terrible day for Americans and “we are all Phil Robertson.”
Tom: Um… yes… ah… there was that, too. Furthermore, you’re trending on Twitter and your Facebook page has twenty million Likes.
Robertson: All of which is good, but what I called you about is, this idea I had – if I can’t get back on the show, could I be one of them there commentators like Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh?
Tom: You mean, have your own show on Fox or some other, similar ultra-conservative media outlet which would let you voice your fundamentalist, evangelical Christian and unreconstructed Confederate southern viewpoints without restriction or censure?
Robertson: Yeah… I guess… yeah, that’s what I mean, uh-huh. You think I could do it?
Tom: Well, you’re smarter than Hannity.
Robertson: I am?
Tom: Definitely. And you’re better looking than Coulter.
Robertson: Oh, go on, now!
Tom: No, seriously, and you’re more ethical than Limbaugh – he used to be a junkie, after all.
Robertson: Hmmm… now that you mention it, you might be right.
Tom: And more talented than Glenn Beck or Megyn Kelly.
Robertson: No kiddin’? Gee, thanks.
Tom: And funnier than Stephen Colbert.
Tom: In a good way.
Robertson: Oh. Okay.
Tom: So, yes, by all means, go for it. But just remember, if you get a show like that, you’ll have to go on every day, practically, and rant for at least an hour about a lot of subjects, some of which, most likely, you currently know little or nothing about. So trust me, getting on the air or going on television and raving about how wrong the liberals are, how misguided the minorities are, and how the country’s going to perdition in a hand basket isn’t as easy as it looks. In fact, it involves quite a bit of very hard work, and by that, I don’t mean lifting, trudging and toting, either, like you do now. I mean spending eight to ten hours a day reading and writing.
Robertson: Readin’ and writin’?
Robertson: Eight to ten hours a day?
Tom: Perhaps more. And at least a couple of hours of thinking, too.
Robertson: Um… yeah… okay… thanks, Mr. Collins.
Tom: You’re welcome.