James Gill: Robertson just as smart as Sarah Palin

This is no time to take a man to task for bigoted and idiotic remarks quoted in the public prints.

Not only is it the season of goodwill toward all men, but the future of “Duck Dynasty” hangs in the balance. Besides, a man’s views depend to a large extent on whence he came, so let us cut some slack. Nobody should have been shocked on this occasion to encounter a backwoods mentality.

And this guy is fiercely devoted to the First Amendment, although he is incapable of understanding it. If that doesn’t make him a patriot, I don’t know what would.

Compliments of the season, then, to Gov. Bobby Jindal. It is meet that we give him the credit he deserves.

Nobody can deny, for instance, that he appears to be every bit as smart as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Most of the time, that might be regarded as faint praise, since Palin was named the GOP’s candidate for vice president before discovering, for instance, that Africa is not a country. But, with everyone feeling so warm and fuzzy today, it may be taken as a compliment.

Jindal and Palin demonstrated their intellectual kinship by advancing identical arguments in defense of Phil Robertson, who comes by a backwoods mentality naturally, since that’s where he hangs out. Too much time in the wilderness can play tricks on the mind, so maybe Robertson, head of the clan featured in the hottest reality TV show ever, has an excuse for the deranged notions he put forth in that interview with GQ magazine.

At all events, Robertson’s belief that gays will graduate to sex with animals suggests he has led far too sheltered an existence.

Robertson was quite a boozer and pill popper before he found the Lord, which may explain his recollection that black people were all “singing and happy” in pre-civil rights Louisiana. It is appropriate that all the Robertson men, with their long, luxuriant beards, should look like participants in a Civil War re-enactment. Robertson is spiritual heir to the Confederates who remembered slaves gamboling under the benevolent gaze of their masters.

But let us take a seasonal delight in noting that all reasonable people will be in perfect harmony with Robertson on other issues. When he described himself as a Bible-thumping redneck, for instance, the truth came shining through. Indeed, he became a national star largely because that is what he is, although “Duck Dynasty” would probably have not pulled in so many viewers if it were merely a freak show. The Robertsons are pretty engaging characters, too.

When A&E suspended Robertson indefinitely, thousands protested, demanding his reinstatement and threatening boycott. Jindal, who never shies away from espousing a popular cause, declared it a twerking shame that Miley Cyrus “gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.” He called the “Duck Dynasty” family “great citizens of the State of Louisiana.”

Jindal and Palin both suggested A&E had infringed Robertson’s First Amendment rights, which, if we weren’t still full of the Christmas spirit, would have to be dismissed as half-witted. The First Amendment protects citizens only against government interference, and Robertson’s right to express his views was not challenged anyway. A&E merely asserted a right to choose who appears on its shows, and Jindal, unless he opposes free enterprise after all, should be jake with that.

Still, we must all be proud to have a governor who will stand up and proclaim that “this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views.” When it comes to state workers, however, he would prefer that they express his views. He probably did not send cards this year to all those he canned for not preaching the gospel according to Jindal.

By no means was all the reaction to the GQ piece pro Robertson. Charlie Sheen, for instance, declared Robertson stupid.

He did so in a pre-Christmas tweet that was as illiterate as it was vituperative. Robertson did not note the irony, possibly because he believes in turning the other cheek.

James Gill’s email address is jgill@theadvocate.com.