In a thoughtful piece, Brandon Ambrosino wonders about GLAAD’s involvement in the Duck Dynasty fiasco, and either intentionally or unintentionally blames GLAAD for what transpired. I have been critical of GLAAD before, and every large organization is going to catch criticism from time to time, but this seems different. Here are some thoughts and questions, Ambrosino’s post raises for me.
The Timeline of involvement.
Before many of us even learned that Phil Robertson was interviewed by GQ, GLAAD had already convinced us that Phil’s words were vile and offensive, and called upon A&E “to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.” (I still wonder how many of us – commentators included – have read the actual story in GQ.) A&E offered its own knee-jerk response to GLAAD’s knee-jerk response, and placed Phil on “indefinite” hiatus, which then prompted some Evangelicals to offer up their own knee-jerk response which had something to do with the freedom of speech and now
This wasn’t my take on it at all. I thought GQ interview was published, the A&E CEO suspended Robertson, and the whole story took off. After this happened, GLAAD weighed in. Going back over all of the media and GLAAD releases, it is less clear. There are two time points important to GLAAD’s engagement here. There first release, which was directed towards A&E following the GQ release, and then the GLAAD follow up after the A&E suspension.
Now, should GLAAD have chimed in originally? Indeed yes! Was their initial message off track, or as Ambrosino argues, failed to represent the “community’s best values”? Those are interesting questions.
Ambrosino misses a really important piece of this. GLAAD merely suggested that A&E reevaluate their relationship with Robertson. A&E could easily have issued their statement without the suspension. The suspension is what caused all the trouble, not the GLAAD release itself.
GLAAD and the Community’s values.
I’d be interested to know what values Abrosino is alluding to. I think he is having his own knee-jerk reaction, because frankly Wilson Cruz/GLAAD was 100% right in their initial statement. Where I think they went wrong was the speed with which they applauded A&E’s quick action. It was not wise to say:
What’s clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value.
This comes across as arrogant and self-righteous. Worse, it is just plain wrong! Heck anyone with half a brain can tell that Christians are fighting tooth and nail to maintain the right to discriminate!
True, many in the LGBTQ Community are way past done with crazy Christian zealots and what some would call hate mongering. So I’d say cut Cruz a little slack if he got a little uppity. He was right, he just would have been smarter to not express it so directly or so quickly.
And it would have helped to be sure that A&E wasn’t going to back down and reverse their decision.
The truth is Ambrosino has the same problem that GLAAD displayed by thinking it is all about us (LGBTQ persons)! True, Robertson said hateful things about homosexuals. Heck anytime you hear “homosexual” and “sin” in the same sentence, you know it is going downhill fast. What made Robertson’s comments so horrific however, is how evenly the bigotry covered race, religion, as well as sexual orientation. THAT’s what Cruz missed addressing. And so did Ambrosino.
The attitudes expressed in support of Robertson’s bigotry illustrate how racism, homophobia,and selfishness are interwoven. This is the battlefield upon which the culture war is being fought.
My take on Abrosino? The guy is freaked out at the magnitude of the rebellion expressed and the lines it drew in the sand and he fears it will negatively impact our advances for same-sex marriage. We have seen this type of response before on numerous occasions. Some think if the LGBTQ Community simply acts nice enough, we will charm everyone into liking us. In other words, if we have the right values they will approve of us. But that is ludicrous. It is the Far Right Religious who have drawn the line in the sand surrounding gay rights. And we can expect one heck of a battle no matter what we say or what we do.
My take on Cruz? It wasn’t only the homophobia that got him so riled up. Yet, he didn’t speak as a person of color. He didn’t speak personally at all, and that was a mistake. Though even that may not have made the difference. Look at the flack Oprah received about her comments.
What we need.
We don’t need folks like Ambrosimo taking shots at a valuable organization, that’s for sure. Rather, we need more voices within the LGBTQ Community speaking out against racism and bigotry of all types. In this instance we saw that from folks like Michaelangelo Signorile and Dan Savage. Hey Ambrosino, take note, and learn!
And, I also want to chime in about how much was said by many without having even read the interview.
I became engaged in this in a thread on Facebook on the morning of December 19th. The person who started the thread didn’t read the interview till about four days later. He’s a pastor, and has a vested interest in the “Christian/ free speech” argument. I wasn’t really surprised at his perspective. But I know him to be a thoughtful person, so I was surprised that he had started the thread on nothing more than a reaction to a Far Right blog he linked.
The reality is this situation touched on issues surrounding Religious Liberty, and the timing followed Marriage Equality victories in New Mexico, Utah, and Ohio. Context and timing is as important as anything else. These things say as much about the outcome and the severity of the backlash as anything else.It is conceivable that on a different day in the midst of other (or missing) some of the other events the outcome could have been totally different.