Now that the Duck Dynasty uproar is over -- the A&E Channel has ended Phil Robertson's "hiatus" -- here's a suggestion about how such future flaps can be avoided:
If you don't like something or someone on TV, turn the channel.
If you're miffed by Phil's personal beliefs, don't watch his TV show and don't attend the churches where he proselytizes.
The same goes for PETA and other anti-hunting, animal-rights activists who for years have lambasted the Robertsons for hunting ducks. If you don't want to shoot a duck, stay out of the duck blind.
But that's not enough for the professionally-offended. Their idea of "tolerance" is to tolerate only what they agree with.
I don't agree with some of the more extreme views Phil expressed during the GQ Magazine interview that got him in hot water. But he has a right to his beliefs, and I was surprised that his bosses at the A&E Channel seemed shocked. Did they really mistake Phil Robertson for Miley Cyrus?
Since he didn't make the comments on the A&E Channel, should he be held accountable by the station and suspended from the show? I suppose A&E has the right to suspend him or fire him or do whatever it wants. But I'm sure that most of the show's 10 million faithful viewers have long been aware of Phil's conservative sentiments.
He has never made a secret of -- or apology for -- his fundamentalist beliefs and traditional social attitudes. Each of the Duck Dynasty episodes concludes with Robertson saying a prayer as his family gathers around with heads bowed.
Everybody knows the Robertsons aren't the Kardashians.
As the controversy spread, it drew in Lebanon-based Cracker Barrel. Officials announced they were pulling some Duck Dynasty merchandise from the stores, then, like A&E, reconsidered.
Seems to me the wise thing for Cracker Barrel would have been to keep its nose out of the controversy. Any side they took would be the wrong side for some. The Duck Dynasty stuff was already on the shelves; let their customers choose whether they want to buy it or not.
I've never met any of the Duck Dynasty cast, but my hunting buddy, Barry Stricklin, had Phil and son Willie as guests on a Nashville radio show he co-hosted. Barry said he's never met two nicer, more down-to-earth people.
After the early-morning show, Barry and fellow host Mike Ridings invited Phil and Willie to breakfast at any restaurant of their choice. Instead of a fancy eatery, they chose Waffle House. And they said a prayer over their scrambled eggs. The Robertsons don't turn their religion on and off, according to whether the TV cameras are rolling.
The Duck Dynasty show is, of course, totally scripted. But the characters are genuine, and that's why I've always been a fan.
Is it corny? Sure. But it's also funny -- most of us have goofy hunting/fishing buddies like the Robertsons. And beneath the cornball humor and staged antics runs a more serious underlying theme about the bonds of faith and family.
Phil has a right to express his beliefs, and those who disagree with them have a right to ignore him. Seems like a reasonable compromise to me.