(2013-12-19) — Calling A&E’s suspension of ‘Duck Dynasty’ patriarch Phil Robertson “a chilling crackdown on free speech in an artistic community that should value individual expression,” President Barack Obama today urged the Arts & Entertainment network to reinstate Robertson immediately, and to apologize for its “hypocrisy.”
“There are no bigger fans of Duck Dynasty than Michele and me,” Obama said. “And while I have my disagreements with Mr. Robertson’s views on homosexuality, as expressed in GQ magazine, I’ll defend with my last breath Robertson’s right to express those views.”
The White House acknowledged that the private company has the right to fire Robertson for expressing his opinion, based on the Bible, that homosexuality is one kind of sin among many.
“But the president felt compelled to speak out,” said press secretary Jay Carney, “because his silence might be perceived as assent among his many entertainment industry supporters who hold freedom of expression in the highest esteem.”
Indeed, the Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild of America and dozens of A-list movie and TV stars issued news releases or held press conferences echoing the president’s call to let Robertson return to the highest-rated show in the history of cable television.
“A chill wind is blowing in this nation,” said actor-director Tim Robbins. “It’s great to see President Obama speaking out against ideological intimidation that masquerades as tolerance and diversity.”