Tuesday, September 23, 2014

STAMPER BROWN: Free speech, ducks and double standards

By SUSAN STAMPER BROWN, Cagle Cartoons Syndicated Columnist | 12/24/2013

Driving around last week as I finished my last bit of Christmas shopping, it seemed like Duck Dynasty merchandise was everywhere. Who would have thought, in 2013 the hottest gift ideas would involve rednecks from Louisiana? What’s more, I never would have believed anything the “Duck” family said would be a source of national controversy.

Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s interview with GQ magazine sparked an all-out assault on him, his family and of course, Christianity. This overreaction underscores the double standard of those who applaud free speech, as long as they approved the message. And if you dare talk about something like abortion or homosexuality, then it is all-out war, and those decrying intolerance become the very thing they claim to hate.

Driving around last week as I finished my last bit of Christmas shopping, it seemed like Duck Dynasty merchandise was everywhere. Who would have thought, in 2013 the hottest gift ideas would involve rednecks from Louisiana? What’s more, I never would have believed anything the “Duck” family said would be a source of national controversy.

Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s interview with GQ magazine sparked an all-out assault on him, his family and of course, Christianity. This overreaction underscores the double standard of those who applaud free speech, as long as they approved the message. And if you dare talk about something like abortion or homosexuality, then it is all-out war, and those decrying intolerance become the very thing they claim to hate.

To be fair, it is dangerously myopic to not realize tolerance is a two-way street. There are those like the Westboro “church” crowd who think it is OK to cherry-pick scriptures like the one Phil Robertson referred to in 1st Corinthians 6:9-11, gathering mentioned sins like stones to hurl at everyone but themselves. Jesus had an answer for that: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

While that scripture lists specific sins, including homosexuality, it does not say homosexuality is worse than slander or greed. Quite honestly, the first sentence of verse 11 indicts everyone: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?” In other words, we’re all wrongdoers, including the openly admitted former drunkard, Phil Robertson, and hence, the desperate need for that baby wrapped in swaddling clothes whose birth we celebrate this time of year.

After getting things in context and because this is not a sermon, let’s get back to the non-stone-throwing Phil Robertson and his interview with GQ. In a seemingly obvious attempt to generate a controversial response, the interviewer asked, “What, in your mind, is sinful?” My response would have included something about eating that creme-stuffed cupcake drenched in dark chocolate icing last night. Phil’s response was a bit more pointed, offering his own southern-drawled translation of 1st Corinthians. Those offended by his response should take it up with God while at the same time thanking him for the First Amendment.

People became so unglued over the idea that the Bible calls their type of sexual behavior “sin” they refused to listen to, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story: “We never, ever judge someone,” said Phil in the same interview, “who’s going to Heaven, Hell — that’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ‘em, give ‘em the good news about Jesus — whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ‘em out later...”

You may not like the way he put it, no more than I cared for now-former MSNBC host Martin Bashir’s comments about Sarah Palin, but the First Amendment is meant to cover us all, no matter how offensive. As a Christian, I tire of the constant theme of homosexuality or casual sex which is woven into more prime time shows than I can count, but I simply can change the channel.

Political correctness has many tentacles, and unless we tear it out at the roots, it will adhere itself throughout our culture until the First Amendment becomes obsolete. The gift of free speech is more valuable than any present one will find under the tree this year and should be cherished.

Susan Stamper Brown is syndicated columnist. Email her at writestamper@gmail.com

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