'Duck'

December 23, 2013 

Phil Robertson is not an obvious quack. He presents himself as the real deal — a true believer — unkindly referenced by non-supporters as an ignorance driven, self-made, white trash, super rich, unrepentant, full-blown, mega-star bigot and damn proud to be one. The genuine article.

Like that "Okie from Muskogee" Merle Haggard once sang about, but times 10.

A&E's "suspension" of Phil from his phenomenally successful "Duck Dynasty" series is as ludicrous as it is unfair.

For the sparsely informed — Phil put down his Browning Auto-5 semi-automatic and shot his mouth off in the January 2014 issue of the ever-so-elegant GQ "Gentleman's Quarterly" with remarks regarded by many as racist, homophobic and sacrilegious — quickly perceived in certain circles as a taunting trifecta.

Phil made the cut for such a high-tone publication after this season's premiere of "Duck Dynasty" recently drew more than 11 million viewers — the most-watched nonfiction cable telecast in history. When you're hot, you're hot.

The man's self-definition couldn't be more clearly conveyed. No one should be even slightly surprised by what Robertson rapped, particularly his partners at the Hearst Corporation and Disney-ABC, both 50% owners of A&E. And the fact remains he didn't utter his nonsense during any of the "Duck Dynasty" episodes, all of which are subject to extremely heavy editing to extract the most out of what normally starts out as a mushy mess.

Here comes that overused, but ever true cliche: While I deplore much of what Phil had to say in GQ, I equally and unequivocally support his right to say it and for others to react accordingly. If honesty is a virtue, Phil might be granted points for that as well, yet only to a limited extent, for honesty untempered by wisdom signals the folly of a fool.

For someone holding a Master of Arts Degree in Education from Louisiana Tech, as does Patriarch Phil, one would normally expect a bit more sophistication than displayed in his chronically crude and widely quoted pronouncements, both on and off the air. By example, comparing one's wife to a Labrador Retriever is not generally recommended as persuasive foreplay in all but the most canine of cultures.

Did you know Phil was also a school teacher ... Willie has a Bachelor's Degree in health and human performance from the University of Louisiana and Korie is a graduate of Harding University? This is why I herein propose that "Duck Dynasty" — for all its down home, by golly, gee wiz charm — is pretty much a great big act.

So is A&E's supposed punishment of Phil, who's already completed most of his fourth season work and isn't even due back on the set till March, by which time all will be amicably settled to everyone's contractual satisfaction, leaving issues of unresolved morality and propriety for others — elsewhere — some new day.

"Reality Television" is a contradiction in terms — like — "Military Intelligence" or "The Vegetarian Tiger" or "A Fish Camp Socialite."

And if all this hasn't made you want to duck and cover — I hope you're sitting down.

A few days ago, Sierra Star columnists Dr. Bill Atwood, J.R. Froelich, Alan Cheah and I were sitting around the bar at Crab Cakes amicably and festively conversing about all sorts of things, when Dr. Bill came up with an outstanding idea. You might only read about it here this one time, since part of the concept is to maintain confidentiality as a critical aspect of the initial exercise until we see what happens during and after our first "session."

The genius of the proposed intellectual adventure rests in its simplicity.

Just the four of us will pick a certain time and place and sit down together. Each will summarize our basic thoughts and generalized philosophy without interruption, contradiction or debate in any form. There will be no note taking and nothing discussed may be used in any future columns by anyone present other than that which may be, in time, unanimously agreed upon.

That's it. If you don't believe me, ask any of the others.

In a phrase, it would be quite cool individually and collectively discovering "where each of us is coming from."

I think that would be an extraordinarily positive way to begin a New Year and congratulate Dr. Atwood for his proposal, as well as Alan and J.R. for their enthusiastic endorsement of the basic concept.

Happy 2014.

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

Imagine.

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