Obscured in the kerfuffle over Mr. Robertson’s coarser comments on the Fairer Sex is a simple fact that any five-year-old can tell us: Adults say the darnedest things.
This has since been confirmed by the comments of many other adults, critiquing the original notes on the female form offered by the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch — responses as predictable as they are misguided.
Because the second fact of the matter is in some ways less simple (and in some ways not) and more far-reaching and profound: When saying the darnedest things, Americans have the particular privilege of legal protection.
More than mere permission, in fact, is that’s where the Constitution starts. It’s its default position. It isn’t simply OK. It’s assumed.
OK, that much we know. It’s obvious. People say it all the time. Except then we go off on each other anyway.
But our best response, whatever our beliefs, may be … nothing.
Meaning whether we agree with Mr. Robertson or not, we can say nothing of it.
Support free speech? Let him speak, that others may here — and that speech remain free.
Think him a fool? Then let him speak, that others may see — and that speech remain free.
Instead people on both sides of the question dive into the shallow end head first, and then we’re paralyzed by all the usual suspects shoveling up all the common critiques.
Christians absolutely affirm certain truths, in this case about marriage. Those who oppose us in this do the same: affirm certain truths. And both as Americans correctly also defend the U.S. Constitutional privilege of saying stuff, even if it’s stupid or silly.
For example, in expressing bafflement over certain beliefs, Mr. Robertson seems mainly to have affirmed this one —
women are beautiful, and men appreciate this.
Or, in his argot —
chicks are hot and dudes dig that.
And of course his special ways of saying stuff was until this point one of the chief attractions to Duck Dynasty viewers, and therefore his cable channel. A&E has made a lot of money off the Robertson clan’s way of seeing the world — what they believe, because of what/who they are, and then saying stuff about it.
It was quaint at the time, I guess. And of course profitable. Which explains their otherwise odd expression of shock and outrage at these views and their colorful expression. When it became that public and the money river was threatened … well.
Up ‘til now they’ve been — literally — banking on them.
Then, too, A& E’s response is entirely predictable.
Then, too, that’s entirely protected by law, as well.
Because we’re banking on it, too, and that’s more vital.
Because all of this is to gently remind all of us that, unlike what we seem to do with so many other things today, this isn’t a ‘something’ rights issue. It’s foundational and basic. This is a rights rights issue.
He may be right, he may be crazy, and he just may be the lunatic … well, you know. Because if free speech is not simply a permission but an assumption, several things are so:
Anyone gets to. Including Christians, non-Christians, anti-Christians and Oldsmobile men.
Anyone else gets to do it back. Including that same list, in reverse. Or don’t.
Anytime we Americans assume, sometimes … well, you know.
Adults say the darnedest things, and here we get to.
And sometimes the best response is none.