updated 11:15 p.m.
Republicans rushed to defend Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson after the reality TV star was suspended from the show over an anti-gay rant.
Meanwhile, the family’s official statement said that “while some of Phil’s unfiltered comments…were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible.” They said they “cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm,” and that they were in discussions with A&E over the show’s future. The show is a moneymaker for the network, which may be torn between viewers who were offended by Robertson’s comments to GQ magazine, advertisers worried about alienating those viewers, and right-wingers defending the reality star’s right to express his personal views.
“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,” Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal said. “Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the State of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with.”
Former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol also jumped to defend Robertson, releasing statements on Facebook condemning the network for removing Robertson from the show.
Bristol Palin released a photo of the reality star with white and red text over it declaring, “I support Phil Robertson and his right to express is faith and his beliefs. Shame on A&E.”
Sarah Palin released a photo of herself with the cast of Duck Dynasty, including Robertson, writing “free speech is an endangered species. Those “intolerants” hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us,” she added.
This isn’t the first time Sarah Palin has rushed to defend those whose free speech is–in her eyes–being violated.
When radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger apologized and eventually closed up shop after a rant where she repeatedly uses the N-word, Palin tweeted, “Don’t retreat…reload!”
And Faith Driven Consumer, a Christian group, has started a pledge at IStandWithPhil.com asking A&E to reinstate Robertson; it has more than 1,800 signatures as of writing.
The Duck Dynasty clan apparently has fans on both sides of the aisle. Before Robertson’s controversial remarks were published, President Obama was asked about the Louisiana crew.
“The Duck Dynasty family seems like a pretty fun bunch, so I can see how that would be pretty fun,” he told People magazine in a forthcoming interview, according to Time.
Duck Dynasty follows a Louisiana family that sells hunting equipment and has become both a cult favorite and a ratings juggernaut for A&E—11.8 million people watched the August latest season premiere, making it the most watched nonfiction cable show ever.
In a recent interview with GQ magazine, Robertson ranted about homosexuality, comparing it to bestiality.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina – as a man – would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me,” Robertson told the magazine. “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.”
He continued: “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.”
A&E released a statement placing Robertson on an indefinite hiatus following the outrage the remarks garnered.
“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community,” the network said in a press release.
The show will continue filming without Robertson.