Robertson’s threaten end of Duck Dynasty, which will air with Phil in January

Phil Robertson’s suspension from Duck Dynasty will have no impact on the nine episode of the show that will air starting January 15, though the family suggests that A&E’s decision may impact future episodes.

The New York Times reports that “it will be a long time before any viewer even notices the suspension” because the new season “has already been completed and the episodes will begin next month. Phil Robertson will be prominently seen in all of them,” and “The suspension will affect only future episodes, which have not yet been shot and will not be seen for months.”

The paper also reports that “one A&E executive, who asked not to be identified, said the network had no second thoughts about ordering the suspension based on references” and “cited the graphic language that Mr. Robertson used to talk about homosexual acts and said the overt comparison he made between bestiality and homosexuality prompted the suspension.”

Whether or not there will be future episodes after the ones that have already been filmed is up in the air, as the Robertson family released a statement that said,

“We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Phil would never incite or encourage hate. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.”

Dear Robertsons: The Constitution only protects Phil, and everyone else, from being able to speak without interference or punishment from the government. Phil’s right to free speech was not infringed at all; actually, he was so able to express himself freely that his speech was distributed in such a way that it is accessible to the whole world. That’s why there is a controversy: His words were published, and now he and you are facing the consequences of those words.

You can believe and say whatever you want; A&E can do whatever it wants with its show; fans can stop watching A&E and go buy your Robertsons’ Christmas album, sales of which are expected to rise because of all this. Ironic, isn’t it, that this alleged censorship is benefitting you?

PS He doesn’t “incite or encourage hate” by equating “homosexuals, drunks, terrorists,” or by saying gay people are “full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, god haters, they are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless, they invent ways of doing evil”? REALLY?

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.