Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has risen to the defense of his state's embattled megamillionaire duck call magnates: He thinks Miley Cyrus is offensive, but she didn't have her First Amendment rights trampled. "It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended," Jindal tweeted on Thursday. It's not a super great argument.
Jindal was noting the suspension of Phil Robertson from the television show Duck Dynasty, following Robertson's descriptive declaration to GQ that he opposes gay sex. A&E, the show's home, stated that Robertson's views don't reflect the network, which has "always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community." On the official governor's website, Jindal posted this statement:
Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the State of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with. I don’t agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.
Jindal — who is, after all, a politician — surely understands that including discussion of Miley Cyrus is an attention-getter. But the situations aren't really comparable. Robertson compared gay relationships to bestiality, drunkenness, greed, and idolatry. He made graphic comments about the process of anal sex. He said that "homosexual behavior" is "not right." Miley Cyrus danced provocatively. Robertson suggested that a number of other people were going to Hell for their behavior. Miley Cyrus didn't look into the camera and say that people like Bobby Jindal were like people who have sex with dogs. The offensiveness isn't really comparable.
Also, for the 22-millionth time, the First Amendment says you can say what you like. It does not say there will be no commercial repercussions for doing so, or that every comment must be "tolerated" without response. If A&E didn't believe in the First Amendment, they would demand that GQ cease publication of the Robertson article. They would call for a law demanding that no one be allowed to disparage gay relationships. That's not what they did. They distanced themselves from someone that they thought would cost them money.
If Robertson wants to stand at the 50-yard-line of the Super Bowl at halftime and say horrible things about white people or A&E executives, he's welcome to do so. And white people and A&E executives can get mad and end his show or stop buying the Robertson family's duck calls. The Supreme Court suggests that commercial activity is its own free speech, remember?
Jindal's statement is just politics. It's waving his conservative flag, calling troops to the front lines. Fine. Anyway, it's nice to talk about Miley Cyrus again. It had been a while.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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