The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

Phil Robertson did not deserve to be suspended from Duck Dynasty.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2013 Category: People
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 909 times Debate No: 42689
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)




In this debate, I'll be arguing that it was wrong and inexcusable for Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty to have been suspended by A&E for his personal remarks of homosexuality.

Round format shall be structured like this

Round 1 - Acceptance
Round 2 - State your case for or against
Round 3 - Refutation to opponent's arguments and conclusion.

Thanks for advance. And please, I'd prefer it if an experienced member of DDO would accept this debate . The past three debates I've done have been forfeited by people who never got back on.



Hello, and thank you for this interesting topic! I may not be the experienced DDO member that you're looking for, but I assure you that I'll be here until the end of the debate with relatively quick responses (hopefully), and while I don't have any DDO experience, I have debated a bit in real life, so I'm not totally inexperienced. I too have been waiting for a while on MIA opponents, so I hope this debate actually ends unlike my others. Certainly not a preferable topic for me to debate, but I think I can manage. Looking forward to the first construtive argument!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting my debate.

I want to start out and be clear that I do not particularly agree with what Mr. Robertson stated, and my assumption is that you did not either. Phil expressed his viewpoints on his opposition to gay marriage and his experiences with blacks during the Civil Rights era that led to the network A&E indefinitely suspending him from the show. Here is what he said:

“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.”

“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 went on to say:

"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.”

As Phil has stated that he does not agree with gay marriage and homosexuality, he also goes on to say that he would not disrespect anyone who associates themselves with that as Christ would.

The bigger issue here is a problem with violation of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

If what A&E did was okay, then if I were a TV network, I could suspend anyone for

-Owning a book collection by atheist Richard Dawkins
-Explaining why it's okay to read the Quran every day and make the journey to Mecca.
-Quoting Malcolm X or Dr. King and why the Civil Rights movement was important.
-Quoting any part of the Bible in any form or manner.
-Saying abortion is wrong
-Saying abortion is right
-Disagreeing publicly with President Obama

The list can go on for ages.

I feel personally and countless others feel that this is a violation of their freedom of religious expression and religion. This problem is not about whether what he said was wrong or right, or whether he was ignorant to the surrounding circumstances. This is a problem about civil liberty in the workplace and The United States' first amendment right, that he seems like he was punished for exercising.

His family is a religious family. I find it very unusual that A&E would act NOW as if they were outraged and surprised at what Phil said. This is about preserving free civil discourse while off work (which he was when he said what he said) as well as free expression of religion or nonreligion for everyone who has this right. This violates YOURS and MY given constutional rights and this could be used as a precedent for future constutional issues.

I don't watch this show, I don't care for it, but this man had his religious expression show down and was then punished for using it.



Hello, and thank you for your response.

This round will primarily be dedicated to deconstructing Pro's argument and displaying that suspension was justified by the circumstances. I'll offer a few independent points to support this argument:

1. Freedom of Speech

Essentially, Pro's only argument is that freedom of speech protects Phil in this case. However, this argument is hopelessly flawed and is based on an unwarranted extension of a federal limitation into the private sector. So rather than examining this debate from the viewpoint of an objective, impartial actor or a federal institution, it would be most prudent to examine this debate from the perspective of A&E. This point serves to establish A&E's right to suspend Phil over the controversy. A private outlet has every right to suspend or release employees if they feel that their words will damage viewership or product sales. All the first amendment protects you from is government censorship. Many stars have been fired or suspended for their comments, including Paula Deen, Alec Baldwin, Martin Bashir, Don Imus, The Dixie Chicks, Rush Limbaugh, etc [1]. This has been going on for quite some time...if it truly is a violation of their first amendment rights, we would expect to see a court case about it, but we don't because everyone who understands what the Constitution entails knows that rights aren't always absolute. But at this point, all that Pro has left is his misplaced reductio ad absurdum argument, extending this event to many other instances.

2. Image

Networks are naturally concerned with their image. The image of a network is vital to maintaining viewership, and we must examine what image networks would most likely want to project. Recently, the gay rights movement has made many strides and far more people are sympathetic to their cause than, say, 10 years ago. Phil was essentially insinuating during his interview that homosexuals are grouped with people who have sex with animals as well as terrorists. It is not shocking that A&E wanted to repudiate these views right away. They hired Phil in the first place because, like all networks, they saw the potential for money to be made. But insofar as they have the power to get rid of Phil whenever he says something that may offend viewers, they used this power appropriately in this instance, as quick repudiation is often necessary to ensure that the network is not chastised for this debacle. Phil was just stating his views, and he had every right to do so, but nothing protected him from the adverse effects on his status as a member of the show. A&E is a private company, and their goal of maximizing profits fall in line with a quick repudiation of comments that group potential viewers with terrorists and people who have sex with animals.

3. Sending a Message

We now must examine what message A&E tried to send by suspending Phil. By quickly renouncing what can and will be viewed as very hateful speech, despite your own opinions on it, A&E is able to exemplify their openness and acceptance of all Americans, mitigating network backlash and relegating those lashing back to people angry about the Phil's suspension instead of people angry that they've been compared to terrorists as well as supporters of those marginalized peoples. It displays the networks desire to be friendly to all people, no matter their background. It also sends a message that networks will not stand for those who go on bigoted rants and marginalize groups of people, showing that the network is tough rather than lenient on bigoted speech.

4. Phil's Contract

Many contracts have what is known as a "morals clause". This clause prevents someone from saying or doing certain things, because, after all, the contract is essentially the purchase of an on-air personality, and the contract can in fact dictate the way the personality is to behave to an extent if the personality wishes the contract to remain solvent. Why do you think few people in the past, such as the ones I mentioned above, sued for their suspensions or dismissals? Because morality clauses are rather ubiquitous when it comes to reality show personalities, and when they exist, nothing can be done about punishments incurred as a result of what one has said or done. " Often, such morals clauses note that, if talents speaks or acts in a way that insults or denigrates people, the producer reserves the right to suspend or terminate that talent [2]." So really, A&E may have been acting in accordance with Phil's contract when they suspended him. If this is true, Pro's argument is null. If it isn't, then the rest of my argument still stands, rendering Pro's argument entirely contingent upon this morals clause, which is likely to exist, making it rather speculative at best. Did A&E act as they were contractually obliged to do? Most Likely. Did A&E have the right to suspend Phil either way? Most definitely.

Pro must contend with these arguments if he hopes to win the debate. His rather perfunctory analysis of what A&E has the right to do and what is doesn't no longer remains solvent, and he must either reconstruct his argument and refute my independent points or forfeit the debate.

As for his list of other things that would be acceptable, we need only to subject each one to my analysis to test his claims. Would disagreeing with Obama, owning a book by Dawkins, talking about the Quran, quoting the Bible, or talking about abortion denigrate a specific group of people? NO! None of these things would be covered by a morals clause; they would have to be separately listed, most likely specifically mentioned as well. My opponent acts as though Phil Robertson was suspended because of the religious implications of what he said. But in reality, it is the marginalization and denigration of a specific group of people that got him suspended. It is this effect that would fall under a morals clause. And according to my second source [2], Eugene Volokh, professor at UCLA Law School, states that "It doesn’t sound like they were taking him off the show because they don’t like the fact that his message is religious; I think they don’t like the fact that his message is anti-gay And people of various religions and no religions, some of them are anti-gay. and I imagine if an atheist on an A&E show said things that A&E thought disapproved of homosexuality, they would deal with it the same way." Sorry if the grammar seems a bit off inside the quote, but you get the point. If, in those other instances, networks believed that their viewers would take great offense to such comments and that repudiation would actually help their image, then they have the right to take action. However, none of these acts fall under a morals clause, none of these acts denigrate a specific group of people rather than bolstering a specific group, and none of these examples actually prove whether or not Phil himself should have been suspended. They're mere red herrings used as unwarranted extensions that cannot be taken as true examples for the meaningful difference I've noted.

So let's examine the resolution. Did Phil deserve to be suspended? Because the suspension was carried out by A&E and not the government or the people, we must examine the suspension through the eyes of A&E, and, as I've shown, A&E has the right to suspend him, they are likely obligated to do so, and, because a lack of action could mean plummeting ratings, they did what networks have been doing for decades. They repudiated opinions that they did not want to be associated with. Pro must contend with these notions if he is to have any hope of making a comeback in this debate.


Debate Round No. 2


Greematthew forfeited this round.


Pro has forfeited the round, and thus the debate, despite his initial desire for a debate in which rounds were not forfeited. Extend all arguments and vote Con!
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by ModerateLiberalism 3 years ago
I actually feel terrible now. You have my deepest sympathy and no one in their right mind would expect you to take part in such a trivial debate with such a loss.
Posted by Greematthew 3 years ago
I very much apologize to my opponent for forfeiting when it was my concern. My mother passed away these past few days and I have not had the time to post. Congrats on the debate win though my friend.
Posted by notscared2 3 years ago
I forgot to mention that I do not believe in imposing my beliefs on others. Freedom of Religion also means freedom FROM religion. We're living in a Democracy, not a Theocracy. Americans need to stop thinking that they have to impose their will and beliefs on others. Get over yourselves, already!! I keep my religion to myself so much that most people do not even know I'm Catholic.
Posted by notscared2 3 years ago
Well, what else should we expect from boorish hillbillies? Their views are definitely NOT mainstream American. Ain't it a miracle where a 6th grade education can take you? But, I support free speech for all Americans. Through our pocketbooks, we can send a message that this level of intolerance in the 21st Century is unacceptable. As a gay man myself, I'm not offended by "Uncle Jed's" anti-gay, anti-civil rights comments. The only comment missing from his sermon was a reference to African Americans as being "Happy Campers", circa "Dan Quayle". I stop by Wal-Mart every so often, and I see all this "Duck Dynasty" merchandise around. I've even picked a few items up as gag gifts. As a Catholic, I am pleased with Pope Francis' comments on this topic. Perhaps these hillbillies should listen to those words. Oh, but wait. They're probably Catholic-haters also. Oh, well. I know I would never watch Duck Dynasty. If it goes off the air, so be it.
Posted by justthefacts 3 years ago
I am interested in following this debate. Are you looking to condemn A&E's stance from a moral position, constitutional position, or a legal position?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.
Vote Placed by Zaradi 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Such FF