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Phil Robertson and Freedom of Speech!!
Duck Dynasty guy was asked his opinion and when he gave his opinion apparently A+E suspended him from the show. Phil isn’t apparently in favor of gays, and certainly not everyone is. We routinely see people bashed for any type of negativity to any group involving minorities or the LGBT crowd, but even many LGBT have stated that Phil’s freedom of speech is the issue, and no one has to agree or disagree.
UPDATE: After about 2million people decided to boycott A/E TV due to the suspension, A/E decided to get Mr. Robertson back on the show.
TheWrap spoke to multiple legal experts who said that, if Robertson’s contract contained a morals clause — as if often the case with on-air talent — than the reality TV star has little in the way of legal recourse.
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. And typically, defining such language or actions is left to the discretion of the studio — basically, “if we say it is so, it is.” Tough to mount a legal argument against that.
While some — notably, failed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin — raised the issue of free speech in defense of Robertson, the “Duck Dynasty” star isn’t likely to find legal recourse under the banner of the First Amendment, as that only protects citizens from infringement on the government’s part.
PD Note: While we realize as to freedom of speech, it wasn’t the government that has tried to silence the duck guy’s speech, the media is very quick to bring controversy forward on issues that involve people getting bashed for saying their opinion. In any event, even if the duck guy had no cause of action against A and E, we don’t know what his contract says, but the backlash for speaking out is worthy just because we (and millions of people) feel that he can express his opinion. Whether he gets canned for it–that’s another issue.
“He has no First Amendment [complaint] against A&E,” Eugene Volokh, a professor at UCLA School of Law told TheWrap. “The First Amendment, the first word of the First Amendment is Congress: ‘Congress shall make no law.’”
And what of the possibility of arguing religious discrimination? While it’s true that Robertson’s anti-gay comments were couched in the context of Robertson’s religious beliefs, Volokh doesn’t see that as a likely success.
“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,” Volokh said. “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.”