Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson gave a bizarre talk this past Friday at a Christian event called the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast. What started as a rant about health care veered into a grotesque stream of consciousness, during which Robertson described a hypothetical scenario that befell an atheist man and his family.
According to Robertson’s perverse narrative, the unbeliever’s punishment involved watching his “little atheist wife” and “little atheist daughters” as they are raped, shot, and decapitated by two intruders. Oh yeah, the intruders also hack off the man’s penis and show it to him. But perhaps it’s best to let Robertson speak for himself on this matter.
“Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him,” the reality star said. “Then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them, and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now, is it dude?’ But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun.”
That’s some pretty acid rhetoric to digest with your scrambled eggs, but the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast was certainly not the first time that Robertson has attracted criticism for an inflammatory screed. In the past, Robertson has compared homosexuality to bestiality, encouraged adult men to marry teenage girls, and offered to personally gun down ISIS fighters if they don’t find Jesus.
It’s tempting to dismiss Robertson’s words as the ramblings of an off-the-rails reality hack, but the Duck Dynasty patriarch is massively popular and his influence is surprisingly vast. Though the show’s ratings are on the decline, as many as 11 million people have tuned in to watch Robertson and Co. shoot ducks and plod their way through flagrantly scripted plot lines.
A&E temporarily suspended Robertson from the show after his comments about homosexuality, but a huge outcry from fans (including Sarah Palin) prompted the network to lift the suspension before it impacted a single episode. In 2013, a relatively unknown Louisiana politician beat out the state senator in a runoff election, possibly thanks to Robertson’s endorsement.
All of this is to say that when Robertson talks, people listen. He shouldn’t be allowed to encourage violence towards women—believers and nonbelievers alike—with utter impunity. When Paula Deen, another Southern reality darling, admitted to using racial slurs in private conversations, the Food Network dropped her faster than you can say, “Fried Butter Balls.” It’s time for A&E to take similar measures with Phil Robertson, who seems to have no compunctions about airing his hateful views in public. The network sent a pretty watery message about Robertson’s homophobia. Perhaps they will draw the line at rape.