'Duck Dynasty' patriarch Phil Robertson will be back on the reality show. A&E lifted his suspension--he'd been placed on "indefinite" hiatus after making comments about race and homosexuality to GQ magazine. The show will resume filming in the spring. Robertson didn't miss any filming.
Robertson's remarks had set off a fresh battle in the old culture wars, with Sarah Palin and others defending his right to free speech, and critics condemning him for racial insensitivity and homophobia.
Among the prominent conservatives who condemned the A&E star’s suspension included Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who released a statement Friday after learning Robertson’s suspension had been lifted.
“I am glad to hear that the folks at A&E came to their senses and recognized that tolerance of religious views is more important than political correctness,” the governor said. “Today is a good day for the freedoms of speech and religious liberty.”
The Republican governor, whose home state the reality show takes place in, attacked “the left” for undermining Robertson’s constitutional right to express his views on religion.
“The left is going to have to get accustomed to the fact that it does not have a monopoly on free speech and is not the only group who is permitted to voice its opinion in the public square,” Jindal added in his statement. “The left may control Hollywood, but they don’t control the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans.”
A&E echoed the “freedom of speech” argument posed by Robertson’s defenders in their statement Friday, noting Robertson’s interview reflected “his personal views based on his own beliefs.”
A&E added that it will air PSAs “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people” to respond to the controversy.
Here is the network’s full statement to The Hollywood Reporter:
As a global media content company, A+E Networks' core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals.
That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the “coarse language” he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would “never incite or encourage hate.” We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold.
But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family… a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.
So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.
We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.
Those on social media were quick to respond.