Phil Robertson’s message is aimed at us all

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Added: Thu, 01/30/2014 - 8:09pm
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Before the holidays, a continent-wide debate over tolerance and religion was unleashed after popular A&E series ‘Duck Dynasty’ star, Phil Robertson, made several derogatory statements concerning homosexuality in an interview for the January issue of GQ Magazine.
With this largely negative    public backlash, A&E temporarily suspended Robertson from the series, but decided to allow him back for the 2014 season. 
Regardless of whether Robertson should be allowed to express his personal beliefs or whether his comments were   unacceptable, justifying his       temporary suspension, we must remember that derogatory beliefs are not only possessed by a single person, nor are they only directed towards homosexuals.  
Television is littered with      programs that frequently stigmatize homosexuals, women, minority groups, those who are obese, etc., yet this programmatic behaviour receives little or no media attention and rarely causes a    public outcry. Why the disparity?
A&E clearly stated that Robertson’s comments were based on his "personal beliefs" and "in no way reflect those of A&E," and, in light of the public outrage, said they would launch a nationwide public service         campaign "promoting unity,       tolerance and acceptance among all people." And then the network aired several television series’   promoting the exact opposite of their announcement, singling out and isolating certain groups,      presenting them as flawed and                    different from others.
This channel airs Hoarders and Intervention, programs that invite viewers to gawk at drug addicts and the mentally ill for their own amusement -- and these shows’ ratings prove that viewers are happy to be gawking!
During the audition stages of the American Idol series, the show purposely focuses on people deemed the most untalented or abnormal, whether it be because of the way they dress, or the way they act, to entertain the audience. And as intended, countless people do laugh at those who are singled out. 
Why is it that no one stands up to this degrading treatment of the people in these shows? Is it because there is no live person    sitting in front of the viewers, translating into words what the shows are actually implying? Does the writing need to be in flashing neon before we can recognize it as prejudicial? Does it need to be shoved right in our faces before we decide to act out against it?
To launch a campaign against Robertson’s prejudices, we first need to pull out our magnifying glasses and take a closer look at television in general.
Sexist, racist, derogatory and degrading messages are everywhere, and there is no lack of TV shows subtly suggesting that      certain people are flawed or       different, or that their behaviour is sinful. The over-all effect of these shows subtle prejudices sends the same twisted message Robertson expressed in words. The only thing differentiating the two is the   manner in which the message was delivered. How is it that we are so blind?

Allyson Beauregard, Editor