UPDATE 1-A&E puts Phil Robertson back on 'Duck Dynasty' after anti-gay flap

Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:15pm EST

By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES Dec 27 (Reuters) - Cable network A&E said on Friday that Phil Robertson will be allowed to re-join his family in the hit reality show "Duck Dynasty," less than two weeks after the patriarch was suspended over anti-gay comments.

Robertson's remarks to GQ magazine and his subsequent suspension by A&E sparked a nationwide debate over tolerance and religion, with conservative politicians and fans saying that Robertson's beliefs were consistent with the Bible.

"As a global media content company, A&E Networks' core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect," A&E said in a statement released late Friday.

"We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people's homes and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principles," added the network, a joint venture of Walt Disney Co. and privately held Hearst Corp.

"Duck Dynasty" ranks among the most-watched cable television programs and averages about 8 million viewers per episode. Its fifth season is slated to begin on Jan. 15. The show's fourth season debuted in August to 11.8 million viewers, a record for a cable nonfiction series, according to the network.

By lifting Robertson's suspension after nine days, A&E assures that the 67-year-old will not miss production of the series' sixth season and staves off any mutiny by the remainder of the family.

Robertson, the leader of the backwater Louisiana clan on the reality show about hunting, fishing and domestic squabbles, was put on indefinite "hiatus" on Dec. 18 by A&E for his remarks to GQ characterizing homosexuality as sinful behavior.

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph from there," Robertson said when asked what is sinful. "Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

'COARSE LANGUAGE'

Although Robertson never apologized for his comments, his family did say they regretted his "coarse language," which included graphic descriptions of male and female anatomy.

A&E said at the time it was disappointed after reading Robertson's remarks, which it added were his personal views and did not reflect those of the network.

Robertson's suspension also elicited strong reaction from across the political spectrum, with conservative politicians defending Robertson as a victim of political correctness.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal lent his support to Robertson and his family, who turned their animal-call company Duck Commander into a hunting industry leader and helped boost tourism to the state.

"The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with," Jindal said in a statement last week.

Gay equality group GLAAD condemned Robertson's comments, saying he knows nothing about gay people.

"Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors, who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families," GLAAD said in a statement at the time.

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Comments (7)
GhostFX wrote:
Rightfully so. Glad to hear it. What happened to our constitutional right to free speach. If you can’t voice your beliefs in public without these people becoming outraged and using the internet and media to essentially try and destroy someone, that what kind of country are we living in? The most hateful comments I’ve heard weren’t from the Duck Dynasty family, but from the gay rights advocates!

Dec 27, 2013 6:37pm EST  --  Report as abuse
GhostFX wrote:
Personally, I think that an organization, private or not, that punishes persons for using their constitutionally awarded rights as citizens should be punished…and harshly. perhaps a nice class action lawsuit would prevent this in the future?? Also, this comes from the same network that brings the Nazi’s and KKK, and other REAL hate organizations right to the heart of your family–your living room. But god forbid they associate with someone who has firm beliefs that are complimentary to the normality and growth and procreation of our species. Rediculous, this is.

Dec 27, 2013 6:40pm EST  --  Report as abuse
McChalium wrote:
People have said that a company has a right to fire someone because they expressed their personal opinion in an off the job situation. This constitutes coercion, trying to force someone to conform to someone else’s point of view by threatening to or actually firing them for not conforming. This is a direct violation of a persons 1st Amendment right to free speech, for how can speech be freely uttered if some intolerant person may deprive them of their livelihood for doing so? A&E was wrong, dead wrong, to take the stance they did as would be any other employer doing the same. Now if Phil had offered up this opinion as an official spokesperson for A&E then they have cause for umbrage, however that was not the case. GLAAD has acted much like the brown shirts of Germany in the mid 1930′s. If someone voices an opinion that they don’t like then they stomp all over him or her. Frankly, they reinforce my already negative view of themselves by doing so. Political Correctness be damned.

Dec 27, 2013 7:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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