“There Are Two Americas, And One Is Better Than The Other”

That’s the eye-catching headline of an item posted on a widely-read politics site this morning.  What is the author talking about?  He’s talking about the story about now-suspended “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson’s racist and anti-gay tirade:

there’s one America where comparing homosexuality to bestiality is considered acceptable, and another where it is rude and offensive….

There’s one America where it’s OK to say this about black people in the Jim Crow-era South: “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” There’s another America where that statement is considered to reflect ignorance and insensitivity.

In one America, it’s OK to attribute the Pearl Harbor attacks to Shinto Buddhists’ failure to accept Jesus. In the other America, that is not OK.

And the punchline (emphasis mine):

There are two Americas, one of which is better than the other. And it’s instructive who’s sticking up for the worse America….

When Sarah Palin and her cohorts [such as Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, and Sean Hannity] talk about the importance of “free speech,” they mean something much more specific: That the sorts of things that Robertson said are not the sorts of things a private employer should want to fire someone for saying. That they are, or ought to be, within the bounds of social acceptability.

But they’re wrong. The other America — the America I live in — has this one right. Racist and anti-gay comments and comments disparaging of religious minorities are rude and unacceptable and might cost you your job. It’s not OK to say that gay people are “full of murder.”

Wow.  It’s not unusual for someone to criticize specific comments that someone else has made.  But it is unusual for someone to declare that an entire American subculture is, essentially, inferior to another.  I mean, saying that one America “is better than the other” – why, that might even be thought of as elitist!  Shocking.

And this same commentator just today was pretty clear in explaining that Republicans actually don’t want poor people to have health insurance.

Republicans get angry when I say Republicans want the poor to not have health insurance. But it’s true!

It is literally the policy agenda of the Republican party to maximize the number of poor people without health insurance.

Which party has invested massive effort in getting states to decline the federally-funded Medicaid expansion? It’s the Republicans!

Again, wow.  Rudely telling it like it is.

What’s perhaps most remarkable about all this is that our truth-teller is not Rachel Maddow or some other bleeding heart lefty on MSNBC.  No, the author of all this commentary is Josh Barro, the politics editor at Business Insider, and himself a Republican.  There are actually some old-school conservatives out there who truly hate the direction their party is going, and are getting very blunt about how wrong-headed its leaders are.

Here’s hoping the voices like Barro’s get louder and louder.



Discuss

37 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Excellent Post!

    n/t

  2. "I support an America where one can say ignorant stuff on TV and not be kicked off that medium"

    That quote is from Jon Stewart, although he said world, not America. And I concur with Jon Stewart.

    I disagree with David when he states Phil compared homosexuality to bestiality. The entire quote is below, he clearly, IMHO, provided a list of sins, including adultery and drunkards, and did not compare homosexuality to bestiality.

    “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

    • You would be an expert on saying "ignorant stuff"!

      I am glad to see you have found the level of the bar at which you hope to perform, “Ignorance”. all mighty “ignorance”.

      Wow, this must be a wicked proad day for you, and the Westboro Baptists, and the KKK. You have finally found you “special purpose”.

    • is there...

      disagree with David when he states Phil compared homosexuality to bestiality. The entire quote is below, he clearly, IMHO, provided a list of sins, including adultery and drunkards, and did not compare homosexuality to bestiality.

      … a sudden and overwhelming tidal wave of bestiality afoot? ‘Cause I see drunkards and adulterers and prostitutes and the greedy and the slanderers and the swindlers all around… but I don’t know from bestiality.

      But, don’t bother answering… It is an explicit comparison to bestiality, tho’ I’ll grant that it certainly did not originate with Phil Robertson: the original prohibition against same-sex union (Leviticus 18:22) comes immediately prior to prohibitions against bestiality (Leviticus 18:23) and has long been a mainstay of conservative religious dogma. For the record, Lev 18:22 isn’t about sexuality at all but is about treating a man as one would treat a woman…. that is to say, it was a prohibition against the humiliation a man receives by treating him as one would treat property or livestock… that is to say a woman. That’s why it’s often conflated with bestiality: The Old Testosterone-ament made very clear distinctions between men and women and very few distinctions between women and animals.

      • err...

        the original prohibition against same-sex union (Leviticus 18:22) comes immediately prior to prohibitions against bestiality (Leviticus 18:23) and has long been a mainstay of conservative religious dogma

        Sorry, dropped a fragment there… the above should read (in part)

        and the conflation of the two has long been a mainstay of conservative religious dogma

      • Petr- is Phil misinterpreting the scriptures?

        As far as an outbreak of bestiality, I don’t know what goes on in the swamps and rivers of Louisiana, and I don’t care to find out….

        • non sequitur

          is Phil misinterpreting the scriptures?

          A literal reading means there is no interpretation going on at all. If you are not interpreting something then you cannot misinterpret it.

          As far as an outbreak of bestiality, I don’t know what goes on in the swamps and rivers of Louisiana, and I don’t care to find out….

          In other words…absent a comparison to homosexuality there’s not a reason to bring it up at all…

      • Very interesting

        It hadn’t occurred to me that the bestiality stuff might have derived from neighboring verses. I always thought is was some kind Foucault-esqe phenomenon whereby the sexual oppression of the righteous was paradoxically expressing its desires via condemnations.

    • And I support new legislation

      to make a$$holes a protected class.

      Merry Christmas!

    • wasn't Stewart the guy who torpedoed Cross Fire?

      eom

  3. Welcome to the free market of speech.

    You can say what you want, but it may cost you. Robertson gets paid as long as long as his contract is honored. He was hired for a reality show, not his opinions. A & E has no obligation, fiduciary or moral, to condone the exercise of his right to free speech.

    Remember all those conservatives upset about Ward Churchill being fired for exercising his free speech rights? Yeah, I don’t either.

    • And also, where were they when Alec Baldwin lost his MSNBC job...

      I don’t recall any of these flaming idiots defending the free hate-speech of Alec Baldwin. Am I wrong?

      • And, also, where was Sarah Palin when Martin Bashir lost his job?

        Martin Bashir lost his job for criticizing Sarah Palin. So, if she believes in free speech, why isn’t Palin asking MSNBC to give him his job back?

        • Bashir

          What he said was pretty vile. I understand the point he was trying to make, but he crossed a line. If I ran MSNBC I would have at least suspended him.

          • Bashir and Palin

            I watched a clip of Bahir’s comments about Palin; he was scathing and scatological. I am not questioning MSNBC’s decision. Here is the point that I am trying to make. If Sarah Palin wants to protect TV personalities’ free speech, even when that speech is vile, then Palin should be defending Bashir also.

            • And

              The conservative chorus that kicked Maher and Donahue off TV should either apologize to those individuals or extend that logic to this weeks homophobic poultry purveyor. Very interesting to find out what Maher has to say…

              • Rush Limbaugh defended Bill Maher in 2001 for his comments

                And Maher is doing quite fine on HBO.

                • A moment's reflection will reveal why

                  This is not because Rush Limbaugh is some kind of principled commentator. No, it is because there has been an ongoing effort to shame radio stations from carrying his show. If Maher and Donahue can be forced out, the Flush Rush Campaign can succeed too.

            • Palin accepted Bashir's apology

              Although next time he needed to apology to her, she said he would need to travel to Alaska and talk to Todd first. Palin never called for Bashir to get terminated, I don’t believe.

              Why doesn’t everyone accept Phil’s statement “My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together,” he says. “However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

    • If we are talking about the market of speech...

      Shouldn’t that be dictated by viewership? If people decide to stop watching Duck Dynasty to the extent it folds, then that’s one thing. People who don’t watch the show calling for it to be canceled seems to me to be quite another. The Dixie Chicks keep getting brought up. Wasn’t it the case that they angered their fan base? And Martin Bashir also seems to be slighly different in that the manner in which he conducted himself was outside the norm of his profession (and was done on his show rather than off-show). The same holds true for the twit public relations person who got axed for tweeting something about Africa and AIDS. A better example for people to use as far as showing hypocrisy on the right would be the cancellation of Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect show on ABC. Always enjoyed it, hated that it was cancelled.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politically_Incorrect

      Here’s a different example which I haven’t heard anyone bring into this. Recall the local woman who was fired because of facebook pic (meant in jest) that people were offended by and that resulted in her firing:
      http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/11/22/update-mass-women-fired-for-flipping-off-the-tomb-of-the-unknown-soldier/

      I found the concerted effort to get this woman fired to be deplorable. It’s one thing to voice your disagreement with someone. It’s another to attack the livelihood of a private person (otherwise thrust into the limelight). It highlighted for me the difference between freedom of speech as it pertains to the First Amendment versus freedom of speech the principle. One is a small subset of the other.
      http://www.volokh.com/2013/12/20/doherty-tolerance/

      “There may have been a good reason why classical tolerance of expression was summed up in the epigram: “I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it!”

      That has a different feel than: “I disagree with what you say, I think you are evil for having said it, I think no one should associate with you and you ought to lose your livelihood, and anyone who doesn’t agree with me about all that is skating on pretty thin ice as well, but hey, I don’t think you should be arrested for it.”

      • It's the free market of ideas and speech

        not the market, I’m referring to. In both markets, however, it’s not just the customers, or individuals, that make the decisions. In both markets, organizations have more power than unorganized individuals. First Amendment rights guarantee the right to speak, they don’t guarantee protection from the political consequences for doing so.

        From a legal and capitalist perspective, A&E owns Phil Robertson’s platform on Duck Dynasty. He’s entitled to his opinions and entitled to speak them. Beyond his contract with A&E, he’s not entitled to his association with A&E. That would be a violation of the company’s ownership rights.

        Like you, I prefer tolerance to intolerance. I don’t like to see people pay an out-sized price for speaking their opinions or, even worse, their mis-statements. (I have been the victim of the former when Rob “Dickwad” Eno published a blog entitled Democratic Granby Board of Selectman Chairman Bail attacks Cherokees for caring about heritage). Still even as an ally of LGBT people, I’m not particularly upset about Robertson’s comments. I think Ward Churchill got a raw deal, including death threats, but we live in an intolerant time.

        I said this below, but it fits here:

        My basic point is that the First Amendment isn’t absolute. If you have a contract with an organization, you may jeopardize it by talking. A&E’s decision was legal. Was it right? I think so. (I’m not talking about the actual content of his speech). There can be political consequences for what people say. Generally, I think this is a good thing.

  4. Interesting

    I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but I feel like this happens after every election cycle. Someone from whichever side took the thumpin’ rails against a faction his/her party. And it gets attention because one side is eager to assign blame, and the other side is eager to have some schadenfreude.

    But then, miraculously, the “Get back to basics” discussion ends up reaffirming whatever it wants to reaffirm.

    It is nice to hear from GOP moderates, though. They spend too much time hiding behind their loudmouth crazies.

  5. Corporations shouldn't be able to fire people for what they say off the clock.

    Although I admit that the Duck Dynasty guy used bad judgment. He should have posted his opinions under a pseudonym and pretended to be a state house insider.

    • Why legislating is difficult

      If the bank manager at your local bank contributed a column to your local paper advocating embezzlement as a legitimate means of earning one’s living and downplaying its consequences, you might be rather relieved if upper management let her go.

      The sentiment behind your statement is a nice one, but trying to define all the rational exceptions is going to be a large, thankless, and unachievable chore.

      Disclaimer: EB3 has never advocated embezzlement.

    • When you're an entertainment personality

      you’re always on the clock. Especially if it’s a “reality television” program.

      I agree with you for the most part, but as kbusch notes, there are just soooooooooo many exceptions.

  6. There are consequences for

    what you do and say.

    Robertson is out of step with history. Biblically justified prejudice against gays, never intellectually defensible, is becoming as socially defensible as biblically justified excuses for slavery. If Phil Robertson were talking about the Curse of Ham, would we be having this conversation?

    And about a$$holes: I’m not sorry to see Martin Bashir go. I don’t care much for Bill Maher, though we share the same side of the political spectrum. You live on the edge, you may end up dying on the edge. DFW and others want affirmative action for assholes like Phil Robertson. As a member of a protected class, he should have to pay the consequences for the free exercise of his right to say stupid shit.

    • Has your employer . . .

      been informed of your opinions?

      • I'm in a union, baby.

        But I expect I’d get in trouble if I started spouting Ward Churchillian or Phil Robertsonian opinions to my students.

        (I know you’re kidding, but I lost my wit Christmas shopping last night).

        • Mark- does Phil a member of a union?

          Is that why you said he is a member of the protected class of society? Or is it his wealth?

        • You're on the clock when you are talking to your students. . .

          but what if you spouted those opinions online, or in an interview in a magazine?
          I agree that you might still get in trouble. But the question is–would that be right?
          Your union, presumably, would grieve it, and argue that your opinions are none of your employer’s business.
          Your union would be right–that’s all I’m saying.

          • It's a judgment call.

            I remember way back an NYC teacher who was a member of NAMBLA. Should the school system try to get rid of the guy? Even if he wasn’t hitting on students? Or what if there was a teacher who makes white supremacy statements in my off-hours? Do they have a right to speak their opinions or belong to organizations that support?

            The NAMBLA guy was fired and courts upheld the decision.

            My basic point is that the First Amendment isn’t absolute. If you have a contract with an organization, you may jeopardize it by talking. A&E’s decision was legal. Was it right? I think so. (I’m not talking about the actual content of his speech). There can be political consequences for what people say. Generally, I think this is a good thing.

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