For many pundits, this time of year is usually all "War On Christmas," all the time. But Phil Robertson's anti-gay comments and consequent suspension from Duck Dynasty has given the slow-pre Christmas news cycle some life.
Among other things, Robertson told GQ: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men... Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
In response, a remarkable number of conservatives have jumped to Robertson's defense, arguing that A&E violated his First Amendment rights by suspending the reality TV star. Others took it a few steps further. Here, some of the most eyebrow-raising reactions.
1. First you've got Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, who in true Bryan Fischer form argued that Robertson's suspension is very literally a sign of the Antichrist. "Anytime you have regulation like that, that prohibits people of faith from buying or selling, and this is what's happened to Phil Robertson...that is the mark of the beast," Fischer said on his radio show. Fischer has also said that "[w]hat we need is about a hundred and fifty million Phil Robertsons out there."
2. When it comes to internet maelstroms, there's always at least one person who offers up a ridiculous and in-no-way-comparable comparison to describe the situation. Usually, it involves condemning a relevant party as Hitler- or Stalin-esque. This time, Illinois congressional candidate Ian Bayne went in the opposite direction: In a fundraising email to supporters, Bayne praised Robertson as a modern-day Rosa Parks. "In December 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people, and in December 2013, Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians," Bayne wrote, continuing: "What Parks did was courageous. What Mr. Robertson did was courageous too."
3. If you were wondering whether, like all good controversies, Miley Cyrus would somehow be involved, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has you covered. "Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the State of Louisiana," Jindal wrote in a statement. "The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with. I don't agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV." He continued: "It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended."
4. Mat Staver, of the social conservative group the Liberty Counsel, agreed: "Duck Dynasty's unashamed displays of faith and traditional values are a breath of fresh air in this Miley Cyrus culture, where flagrant displays of sexuality permeate entertainment."
5. And then there are those who took an appropriately Duck Dynasty-themed approach to their reactions. First there's Ralph Reed's social conservative group the Faith & Freedom Coalition, which asked supporters to grow beards in solidarity and as a sign that they "deplore discrimination and anti-Christian bigotry against those who express their faith and Christian beliefs in the public square."
6. Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes, last seen complaining that an Indian woman won the Miss America pageant, went on a Twitter rampage decrying "intolerant, anti-straights" who are targeting the show. "Mainstream Media STUNNED to find out that Duck Dynasty staff believes in the teachings of the Bible," he tweeted. And, in keeping with the very important tourism motif that has for some reason become part of this scandal, Starnes offered up this tidbit to his readers: "Families and church groups planning vacations might be interested to know A&E is co-owned by Disney."
7. Then there were those that blamed the gay and lesbian groups for targeting Robertson, as well as other Christians. "There's a new level of bullying on the part of these militant activist groups, who if anyone says something that holds to the same position that Barack Obama held in 2008 when he… made it very clear that he opposed same-sex marriage and he said he did so because he was a Christian and because of his biblical views," Mike Huckabee said. The group Americans For Truth About Homosexuality was also outraged at this display of "homo-fascism," saying, "There's far more truth and wisdom in what Phil Robertson told GQ than in the everyday pro-'gay' pablum that is pumped out daily by the liberal media."