On Phil Robertson and A&E

I am sure that I was happier when I didn’t know that ducks have dynasties, and I am equally sure that I have better things to do with my time than to write about the social/religious views of a TV star who has more beard hair than I have ever had any hair. But since sleep is not all that important, I’m going to pontificate anyway.

1. A&E is a television channel. They produce and air shows.

2. Producing and airing shows is expensive business. You gotta find a way to pay for all of it.

3. The way to pay for all of it is to attract advertisers. The more viewers a show has, the more popular it is. The more popular a show, the more willing advertisers are to advertise during that show in order to reach as many people as possible. As a consequence, it behooves television channels like A&E to have shows that are as popular as possible, so that it can attract as many advertisers as possible, thus paying for the production and airing of shows, contributing to A&E’s bottom line, and perhaps leaving it in the black. The foregoing analysis is nothing more complicated than anything that anyone would learn in any Marketing 101 class, and since Phil Robertson himself is a quite successful businessman, and got himself on a television show, I presume that he is smart enough to know Marketing 101–and beyond. In fact, I am quite certain that he is smart enough to know Marketing 101–and beyond.

4. Given the foregoing, if someone in A&E’s employ, or someone associated with A&E in any significant or consequential way chooses to say something that might turn off a significant portion of A&E’s audience, thus causing a decline in A&E’s viewership and thus, a decline in advertising revenue, then A&E is up fertilizer creek without a paddle. A&E, not being a collection of sub-morons, would rather not be up fertilizer creek without a paddle, and as such, they are going to move to mitigate any damage done by someone in A&E’s employ, or someone closely associated with A&E who says or does something that may cause a decline in viewership, a decline in advertiser revenue, and a trip up fertilizer creek without a paddle. That something may be to either condemn the words/actions of the damage-causing person, or to suspend the damage-causing person, or to fire the damage-causing person.

5. The damage-causing person likely knows, or ought to know that in exchange for receiving (in Robertson’s case) a significant amount of money from A&E, s/he will have to publicly behave in a manner that will not cause A&E discomfort or embarrassment. I trust that this does not come as a Mt. Sinai-type revelation to anyone.

6. Given 5 above, the damage-causing person ought not to be surprised in the least if after having done something that threatens A&E’s popularity/viewership/advertising revenue/profitability, A&E will take action in its own interests to protect itself. If the damage-causing person actually does claim to be surprised by this, then either s/he is acting, or s/he needs to have a baby grand piano dropped repeatedly on his/her head until ratiocination skills are fully and completely restored. In related news, if one makes one’s employer look bad, one may have to look for a new gig–and this goes for non-television-related industries just as surely as it goes for television-related industries. In still further related news, water is wet, ice is cold, night is dark, fire is hot, and I am being more than mildly snarky.

7. The First Amendment is not at play here. The First Amendment applies to government efforts to suppress speech. A&E is many things, but it is not a governmental actor.

8. This part is just my opinion, but given the fact that we have over 7% unemployment (still), an economy whose growth is at best anemic (still), kids who are receiving lousy educations (still), wars abroad (still), threats to American national security (still), threats to American economic primacy (still and growing), currently-incurable diseases (still), the possible diminishment of the power of antibiotics to prevent diseases we once thought were vanquished (holy fertilizer), and a host of other problems I don’t have time to list because at some point, sleep actually does become important, then maybe, just maybe, we have better things to do with our time than to treat a group of human beings like scum and vermin simply because they are attracted to members of the same sex. Your mileage may vary. I really hope that it doesn’t, though, because your help is very much needed to deal with all of the problems (and more) listed in this last section of my blog post.

Comments

  1. “Given 5 above, the damage-causing person ought not to be surprised in the least if after having done something that threatens A&E’s popularity/viewership/advertising revenue/profitability, A&E will take action in its own interests to protect itself.”

    Then A&E should be aware that 3.5 MILLION of it’s viewers have signed a petition to BOYCOTT A&E due to their infringement upon Phil Robertson’s first amendment rights.

    If you are asked, “What, in your mind, is sinful?” you have the RIGHT to answer that question with honesty and integrity without repercussion for stating your OPINION. A&E has the right to do what every tv show does and put out the disclaimer, “the commentary expressed does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of A&E!

    • As pointed out in my blog post, the First Amendment is not at issue here. The First Amendment only applies to the government and to government efforts to suppress speech. A&E is not the government and it is not a government actor.

  2. I agree with most of what you say here, particularly with respect to the fact that this is not a First Amendment issue. However, it most definitely is part of an ongoing effort to intimidate those who adhere to the traditional teachings of Christianity (and some other religions) concerning same-sex relations into keeping their mouths shut on the subject, at least while in the public square, lest they suffer adverse consequences. I’m not so much concerned about Phil Robertson as about people who aren’t involved in popular reality TV shows and aren’t the subjects of magazine profiles, but who may be at risk of losing their jobs if they say the “wrong” thing to the wrong person.

    Also, to regard same-sex relations as sinful acts, or even to publicly so state, is not quite the same thing as treating those who engage in such acts as “scum and vermin.” I would even venture to state that opposition to state sanctioning of same-sex marriages does not automatically equate to treating same-sex couples as “scum and vermin.”

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