As we told you last night, A&E has put the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family on indefinite leave following the anti-gay comments he made in an interview with GQ magazine. Setting aside how it's possible to suspend someone from a "reality show" about their own life for the moment, a handful of Republicans and conservatives are already making hay out of what they (wrongly) think is a First Amendment issue. Out in front is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who released this statement, complete with a Miley Cyrus reference:
"Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the State of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with. I don’t agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended "
Not to be outdone in the umbrage-taking or Constitution-misreading department, Sarah Palin took to Facebook where she made a similar case, complete with something of a written twang: "Free speech is an endangered species. Those 'intolerants' hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us."
It's a safe bet we'll see similar opinions echoed by conservative talking heads for days to come. Just so we're clear, here's the text of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." As you'll notice, there's no mention in there of an employer-employee relationship. (For more on the First Amendment issue, or lack thereof, head on over to Moneybox where my colleague Matt Yglesias has more.)