Andrew Sullivan supports Phil Robertson


Andrew Sullivan is one of the world’s best bloggers, he is certainly an inspiration for some of my work. He is also gay.

He as written a piece at The Dish supporting Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty.

I have to say I’m befuddled by the firing of Phil Robertson, he of the amazing paterfamilias beard on Duck Dynasty (which I mainly see via The Soup). A&E has a reality show that depends on the hoariest stereotypes – and yet features hilariously captivating human beings – located in the deep South. It’s a show riddled with humor and charm and redneck silliness. The point of it, so far as I can tell, is a kind of celebration of a culture where duck hunting is the primary religion, but where fundamentalist Christianity is also completely pervasive. (Too pervasive for the producers, apparently, because they edited out the saying of grace to make it non-denominational and actually edited in fake beeps to make it seem like the bearded clan swore a lot, even though they don’t.)

Now I seriously don’t know what A&E were expecting when the patriarch Phil Robertson was interviewed by GQ. But surely the same set of expectations that one might have of an ostensibly liberal host of a political show would not be extended to someone whose political incorrectness was the whole point of his stardom. He’s a reality show character, for Pete’s sake. Not an A&E spokesman. So here’s what he said – which has now led to his indefinite suspension (but he’ll be in the fourth season, apparently, which has already wrapped):

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong … Sin becomes fine. 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 … “  

Phil Robertson is entitled to say what he likes, yes some people will  be offended, people always are. But should he be banned? No. We should hear what people’s idea are so they can be mocked and scoffed if they are batshit crazy. Same goes for holocaust deniers…don’t ban them mock them.

Andrew resists the mocking and instead uses logic and reason.

This is a fascinating glimpse into the fundamentalist mind. You’ll notice that, for the fundamentalist, all sin – when it comes down to it –  starts with sex. This sexual obsession, as the Pope has rightly diagnosed it, is a mark of neurotic fundamentalism in Islam and Judaism as well as Christianity. And if all sin is rooted in sex, then the homosexual becomes the most depraved and evil individual in the cosmos. So you get this classic statement about sin: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.”

This emphasis is absolutely not orthodox Christianity. There is nothing primary about sexual sin as such in Christian doctrine. It sure can be powerfully sinful – but it’s not where sin starts. And to posit gay people as the true source of all moral corruption is to use eliminationist rhetoric and demonizing logic to soften up a small minority of people for exclusion, marginalization and, at some point, violence.

If you think I’m hyperventilating, ask yourself what the response would be if in talking about sin, Phil Robertson had said, “Start with Jewish behavior …” The argument would be totally recognizable, once very widespread, and deeply disturbing. What we’re seeing here – and it’s very much worth debating – is how fundamentalist religion seizes on recognizable, immoral minorities to shore up its own sense of righteousness. You can gussy it up – but it’s right there in front of our nose.


Andrew Sullivan (left) and Aaron Tone arrive at the White House for the State Dinner for British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha in March, 2012.

I think this is the literalists problem…the original sin apparently started with Eve and sex…therefore sin starts with sex.

Then Robertson says something that tells us nothing except he has never had an honest conversation with a gay person about what it is to be gay.

He simply assumes that all men must be heterosexual, and that making themselves have sex with another man must be so horrifying it mystifies him:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

No, it isn’t logical if it were a choice for a straight guy. But it isn’t. All we’re seeing here is the effect of cultural isolation. The only thing I find objectionable about it – and it is objectionable – is the reduction of gay people and our relationships to sex acts. Mr Robertson would not be happy – indeed, rightly be extremely offended – if I reduced his entire family life and marriage to sex with a vagina.

I have had much the same discussion with more than a few people, where they reduce gay people and their relationships to sodomy. My answer is usually “So, you’ve never given it to the missus in the chokka then?”

But look: I come back to what I said at the beginning. Robertson is a character in a reality show. He’s not a spokesman for A&E any more than some soul-sucking social x-ray from the Real Housewives series is a spokeswoman for Bravo. Is he being fired for being out of character? Nah. He’s being fired for staying in character – a character A&E have nurtured and promoted and benefited from. Turning around and demanding a Duck Dynasty star suddenly become the equivalent of a Rachel Maddow guest is preposterous and unfair.

What Phil Robertson has given A&E is a dose of redneck reality. Why on earth would they fire him for giving some more?


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • drummerboy

    I’m glad he is supporting his right to free speech… But he also compared him to hitler. Phill Robertson says they love all people and don’t judge weather they go to hel or not… Hitter on the other hand though Jews ran the world and wanted to destroy Germany and European culture.

  • blairmulholland

    God help us, with friends like these…

    Sullivan is a vile turd – completely twisting what Robertson said. He sounds like a sociology professor. He’s reading things that simply aren’t there. And as a Trig-truther, he has no right to talk about obsession with sex or genitalia. Saying that conservative Christians are obsessed with sex is a ridiculous straw man. It is secular society that is obsessed with sex. Robertson is simply presenting an alternative way of being, and it horrifies all the sex-obsessed folk out there.

    It’s also part of the narrative that the gay community like to propagate that being gay is a whole lifestyle and that Christians are condemning the whole lifestyle. But there’s nothing sinful about liking musicals or pitching up the end of your sentences. It’s sinful, if you are a man, to fuck anyone other than a woman whom you are married to. It’s not rocket science!

    Personally, I will treat everyone with tolerance and respect, but I am not going to pretend that up is down and left is right just because someone chooses to live in a foolish way and gets all butthurt if I disagree with their choices.

    • Orange

      Great post BM

    • timemagazine

      Spot on, thanks for that. Have a merry Christmas.

  • LesleyNZ

    Andrew Sullivan is wrong. Don’t know where he got the idea that all sin starts with sex. Sin started with blatant disobedience to God not sex. Go and read Genesis.

    • Meep Meep MEEEEP!!!

      I was just going to post that… you took the words out of my mouth :)

    • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

      So if you were in Abraham’s position at the top of Mount Sinai you would do as god demanded of you?

      • blairmulholland

        Abraham never went to Mount Sinai. You are thinking of Moses. I’m assuming you mean would you attempt to sacrifice your own son. Well it’s not a specific task for emulation – it’s a story of Abraham’s faith and obedience, which was LesleyNZ’s point. When you start communicating with God, you can worry about what He is going to ask you to do then. Until that time, relax ;-)

  • mick le prick

    As a gay guy im pretty open minded and hate PC shit I mean the Closet Lesbian Hellen Clark years and her PC shit made me sick. And this over the top gay Nazis shit. Irang an event in NZ and i got shit from the gay PC Nazis all the time. Im pleased i moved on. This red neck’s comment is not hate speech its FREE speech. For fuck sake my old man is old school he is red neck as hell hates the Maori loving we do in this country and is aint gay marriage and gay adoption but he still loves me as im his eldest son.
    For your real nutter/haters i agree with gay marriage cos like you poor sad married sad cunts why shouldn’t a coupe of fags be sad and miserable like the rest of ya. LOL

    • johnooz

      Great post Mick

    • Meep Meep MEEEEP!!!

      So true! Free speech means you are free to speak your mind, and I am free to agree or disagree.

  • Dick Brown

    Sullivan is, of course, absolutely correct. Great article.

  • Meep Meep MEEEEP!!!

    It’s great to live in a world where we are free to speak our red neck mind without worry about being fired from our job where our employer has made a ton of money from our red neck perspective… oh hang on…

  • Shazza

    Did A&E fire him because what he said was offensive (not a legit reason for firing re “freedom of speech”, in my books) or because advertisers called for blood (a legit reason). TV is a businesses, advertisers are the clients, not the public.