Regarding the Duck Dynasty Debate and Happy Holidays from Muncie Free Press

Notes from Your Friendly, Neighborhood Publisher

By K. Paul Mallasch

MUNCIE, INDIANA (OPINION) - If you haven't heard, the senior Robertson on A&E's hit show Duck Dynasty has stirred up quite a debate after remarks he made in a recent GQ interview. As same sex marriage is becoming a hot issue in Indiana - with many Mayors standing up to say they oppose changing Indiana's constitution to stop people of the same sex from getting married - I thought I'd bring the issue up this week.

If you haven't heard about the Duck Dynasty debate yet, you should go check out the GQ interview that's available online. After comments he made about homosexuals and African Americans began to go viral, he came forward last night and said that he has a respect for everyone. Is this a case where Phil Robertson is catching flack by utilizing his right to free speech and to believe in what he wants?

Looking back in time to the Declaration of Independence in America, you'll notice the phrase all men are created equal. It took over a hundred years for this statement to include people of color and women, of course, but the times are changing. Americans have a history of intolerance whether it's racially or religiously based. That has changed a lot in the last few decades, but we still have a long way to go in many respects.

Around the world, many governments have taken a stand against "hate speech," saying that freedom of speech doesn't protect people from being hateful. In Canada, for instance, it's a crime to say that the Holocaust didn't happen. In other countries, free speech has certain limitations. I'm curious if anyone thinks that Phil Robertson's comments were hate speech or if he was just expressing his opinion. 

A&E is trying to distance themselves from the comments he made in GQ and has even gone as far as to remove him from the show indefinitely. Duck Dynasty has been very popular since it first hit the airwaves, and at least some people online are petitioning that Phil Robertson be allowed back on the show next season - if they have one. In a world of political correctness, speaking your mind may not be an option for everyone.

Locally, Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler has joined other Mayors around the state of Indiana to say that HJR6 is not a good idea. Personally, I agree. When you look around and see that over one million Hoosiers don't know when or if they're going to have their next meal, there are a lot of other more important issues that should be discussed and worked on. What two people want to do on their own is up to them. This is the spirit of freedom in America.

And this brings me to my next point. I used the phrase Happy Holidays in the title of this post. Some people hate that phrase, thinking that it's meant to remove the phrase Merry Christmas. This is also a bit ludicrous in my opinion. Others have a problem with the phrase Xmas, but if you do your research you'll find that the X was a way that early Christians - who were persecuted and put to death violently - could let others know they were a follower of Jesus Christ. By drawing a line in the dirt, a brother in Christ could draw another line and make an X, letting both people know they held the same beliefs. 

I realize a lot of people in Indiana (and throughout the world) celebrate their own holidays - be it Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or even the Solistice. Saying Happy Holidays - to me - is just a way to include other people who may not believe the same things I believe. This is a matter of practicing love and not hatred. I'm reminded of Jesus being asked why he was talking with a whore. He drew something in the dirt and told the people around him to let the first person who is without sin to cast the first stone. This is backed up elsewhere in the bible with phrases like judge not lest ye be judged.

One of my favorite sections of the bible is when the disciples asked Jesus what was the most important thing in life.

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a]38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Love God and love others like you love yourself. That seems like a wonderful holiday message to me - even for those who don't believe in God. Treating others like you want to be treated could solve a lot of the problems in the world if people followed what they said they believe in or thought about other people more than themselves.

The backlash against Phil Robertson got me thinking and I wanted to bring the issue up to see what the readers of Muncie Free Press think. At the end of the day, love is more powerful than hate.  Leave your comments below or on Facebook if you have some time - no matter what you believe.

Your friendly neighborhood publisher,
K. Paul Mallasch