Many Americans are justifiably angry over the way the Arts & Entertainment Network (A&E) has treated Phil Robertson, patriarch of the top-rated reality show "Duck Dynasty," for bluntly expressing his personal preference for heterosexuality and marital fidelity in an interview with GQ. Here's what he said:
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men." Then, paraphrasing Corinthians, he added: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Robertson was suspended indefinitely from the show after homosexual advocacy groups complained, and now the show's future is up in the air as his family weighs whether they want to go forward without him. Meanwhile, Robertson's supporters have launched a boycott of the network, which has already drawn 1 million "likes" on Facebook and thousands of followers on Twitter.
It's a nice gesture, but a futile one — even if it does have some effect on ratings or scares advertisers away. That's because people may stop watching A&E, but they can't stop paying for it without giving up cable entirely. The federal government won't allow consumers the choice of buying cable channels individually instead of in massive — and expensive — multi-channel "bundles."
Unbundling has been a popular idea with consumers for years, but it's never gained the political support needed to become a reality, even though cable and satellite operators have long complained about it. The entertainment industry hates unbundling and lobbies hard to block it because they make more money by forcing consumers to pay for dozens of cable channels they don't watch.
And the Democratic politicians preferred by — and financially supported with campaign donations by — most cable industry leaders are happy to make sure the shakedown continues, justifying it by saying that unbundling would harm the diversity of cable offerings.
So the practice continues, forcing people to pay for MSNBC and CNN so they can watch Fox News — or vice versa — and providing steady income for actors, writers, producers, directors, musicians and studio executives who produce "entertainment" that routinely ridicules conservative and religious Americans and shows contempt for their values.
When A&E executives showed Robertson the door for expressing views shared by many in his audience they knew they didn't have to care because they enjoy a government-enforced cash flow that will continue, boycott or no. Why should they care? It's a captive audience, after all.
This doesn't have to continue. Legislation, introduced in May by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would allow cable operators to sell channels on an "a la carte" basis, and penalize content producers who refuse to allow it by putting their FCC licenses at risk. So far, like past efforts, McCain's bill has gone nowhere. Maybe conservatives and religious Americans should take their anger over the issue and put it to good use. Hit Big Hollywood where it hurts and force Congress to approve unbundling.