Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal outside the White House in Washington, Feb. 25, 2013.
Evan Vucci/AP

A letter to Bobby Jindal on ‘Duck Dynasty,’ and freedom of speech

Updated

In next month’s GQ magazine, readers are treated to a very different version of the Louisiana duck hunters who star in A&Es megahit, feel-good reality show “Duck Dynasty.”

Not the highly edited, apolitical portrayal of a family who are all about eatin’ squirrels and shootin’ ducks. Oh, no. The GQ interview with “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson gave us all the stuff that gets left on the cutting room floor, raw and uncut. 

Like this gem on growing up in Jim Crow Louisiana: 

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person…. They’re singing and happy….Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” 

Or his equating homosexuality to a sin, on par with bestiality, and any manner of: 

“adulterers, idolators, male prostitutes, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers.” 

Now, a reality star doing or saying off the wall things shouldn’t come as much of a surprise by now. But an elected official jumping in and high-fiving him? That is what you call political dynamite. 

So this week I’m sending a letter to the guy who just blew himself to smithereens. 

Dear Governor Bobby Jindal: 

It’s me, Joy. Mind if I call you Bobby? 

We’ve corresponded with you so much here on “MHP,” I feel like we can be familiar. By now, we’ve become pretty well acquainted, so I’m just going to level with you: Bobby, you’ve changed. 

Weren’t you the guy–who after the GOP shellacking in the 2012 election–issued this mandate to your party going forward: 

“We’ve got to stop being the stupid party… It’s no secret we’ve had a number of Republicans this year who damanged the brand this year with bizarre comments. I’m here to say we’ve had enough of that.” 

“Stop being stupid.” Your words, Bobby, not mine. 

But then this week you went and dived right into “the stupid” when you felt the need to issue a statement about A&E’s decision to suspend Phil Robertson, saying

“The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with…. this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”

Bobby, I’m not sure how you managed to get picked to run an entire state without understanding the very first item on the founding document of the country that state is a part of. 

The First Amendment to the Constitution does not guarantee the inaliable right to be on a reality-TV show. 

It is meant to protect the free speech of American citizens from being silenced by an act of Congress. And A&E is a company–owned in part by other, larger, publicly traded companies. It does not in any way qualify as Congress, or “the government,” or an agent of the state. 

So it doesn’t really matter whether or not TV networks believe in the First Amendment. Because they are not, in fact, bound by it. Look it up. It’s right there in the Bill of Rights, right at the top. 

But do you know who does count as the government Bobby? You. 

And you just used your position as governor of Louisiana to condemn a corporation for making a business decision it deemed to be in the best interest of its bottom line.

And here I thought Republicans were supposed to be against big government telling businesses what to do. 

Or is there an exception when you’re the one doing the telling? 

Besides, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. Phil Robertson learned that lesson this week. And my guess is, should you run for President, ‘round about two years from now, you will too. 

See, just because we won’t ever hear Robertson’s comments on Duck Dynasty, doesn’t mean we have not heard them. And Bobby, let’s be clear–you just spoke out in support of the guy who fondly recalls happy black people singing while working in the Louisiana fields and who equates LGBT Americans with people who have sex with animals. 

So don’t be surprised if your words–and his words–come back to haunt you in an opposition ad in 2016. But hey maybe you can convince American voters that you were just, you know, expressing your views. 

Once those voters are at the ballot box, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to exercise that same right, and express their views about you too. 

Sincerely, 
Joy

Melissa Harris-Perry, 12/21/13, 1:05 PM ET

‘Stop being stupid,’ Bobby Jindal

In an open letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal, Joy Reid urges him to “stop being stupid” after he issued a statement defending Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson after A&E suspended his show.

Bobby Jindal, Duck Dynasty, Gay Rights, Melissa Harris-Perry, Melissa Harris-Perry Open Letters and Racism

A letter to Bobby Jindal on 'Duck Dynasty,' and freedom of speech

Updated