3/27/15 Defending The Duck Commander

I read an interesting editorial in THE NATIONAL REVIEW which said a lot about what I think of Phil Robertson and the reality red-breasted-merganser-male-flying_3262show, Duck Dynasty. It chided those who want to defend Phil and his controversial remarks. Here is a link to the editorial:


Phil Robertson is Phil Robertson. I was a conservative, evangelical Christian and had a full and complete life before I ever heard of Phil Robertson. I still have one, without any input from Phil. Phil can stay, or Phil can go. I am not moved by Phil. I don’t wish him any bad luck, either.

I am not being critical of Phil; I don’t know him or even watch the show. I wish all the Robertson clan good health and great success as they are a family of human beings just like the rest of us. They don’t need me to defend them, since they haven’t needed me to get to where they are now. Frequently, though, Phil gets himself into a bit of a jam because of his statements, which stem from his beliefs, however heinous others may think them. Remarkably, Phil and I share a number of beliefs. Were I to utter the ones I hold that are politically incorrect, I doubt Phil would be any more inclined to come to my rescue as I am inclined to his. I just try to avoid inserting my foot in my mouth, which is not always possible, particularly if one comments on anything that is micro-aggressive, triggering, or anti —nay, not even anti, but far less— anything that is held to be offensive by those who feel it necessary to protect grown up, adult college students from ideas that may be counter to what their professors are telling them. Phil offends them a lot. I could, too, but mainly choose to be offensive by telling them I can be offensive while choosing to remain silent on many issues that I don’t think are important enough to make a declaration. I suppose I don’t have to, thanks to Phil Robertson.

What I like most about Phil Robertson is NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw’s remarks about him. The famous Pittsburg Steeler Bradshaw was a second string quarterback behind Robertson at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana. He got the chance to become the team starter when Robertson quit the team, telling Bradshaw that Football was interfering with his first love, duck hunting. Bradshaw said that Robertson just wanted to live his life so he could duck hunt. In case you didn’t know, there are thousands of people who like duck hunting that much, Robertson is just one of them. They arrange their whole lives around their passion for the sport.

I’ve been duck hunting a few times, always upon invitation from someone who shared Robertson’s passion. I will likely do so every time I am invited. I enjoyed my duck hunts and am looking forward to the time I get invited again (hint–hint) since duck hunting does not consist of merely awakening in the morning and going out and shooting ducks by the hundreds; it’s not quite that easy.

First you must have a place to duck hunt, which can be incredibly expensive. Then you must have blinds built, a boat to get to the blinds, decoys to lure the ducks in, duck calls (preferably the Duck Commander Brand) to entice them, dogs to retrieve them, state hunting licenses, state waterfowl endorsements to those licenses, federal waterfowl tax stamps affixed to those licenses, hunting camps near the place where the ducks are (on the water since ducks are particularly fond of it), pickup trucks to haul the boat, dogs kennels, dog food, dog training devices, veterinary bills, decoys, and gear, camouflaged clothing, and a camouflaged, expensive Benelli or Berretta shotgun to go with your certified environmentally friendly steel-shotted shotgun shells, a backup gun in case the first gun malfunctions, and  plugs for your guns so that they cannot hold more than three shells, expensive optical devices so you can look at ducks coming in to alight from afar and be able to determine exactly what types of ducks they are as shooting the wrong kind, or too many of the right kind can result in the seizure and forfeiture of all those expensive items previously mentioned. It is a bewildering variety of things that are necessary and must be complied with, and no one can pass muster if inspected too closely by a state or federal game agent. One’s chances of getting off without a ticket are even more remote than getting out of an IRS audit without owing more money. That is pretty remote.

Phil Robertson loves all this. Apparently, so does the rest of his family. It is not uncommon in Louisiana, or Arkansas, or Mississippi, where lots of water and lots of ducks in the marshy flyways bring ducks south in the winter. They don’t duck hunt much in Denver, but they sure do in West Monroe, on the beautiful Ouachita River, which joins up with the equally beautiful Tensas River and meanders its way down to the mighty Mississippi, a bit north of Natchez, all near to the spot where the Red River joins in, just north of the spot where the Atchafalaya river is born, threatening to turn Morgan City, Louisiana, into the new New Orleans. Louisiana is abundantly blessed with water. Where you have water, you have ducks, and where you have ducks, you will find those who take great sport in shooting at them, sometimes with no effect, which mostly excludes Phil Robertson, as he seems to be pretty good at it, much to the dismay and detriment of any duck that comes within the effective 75 yard range of Robertson’s shotgun, and 75 yards is a long shot.

Just think about it: A duck has to fly all the way from Canada and randomly choose, somehow, to get himself within 75 yards (50 is much better…or worse) of Phil Robertson for the honor of being shot at by him, perhaps with no effect other than exhilaration for both Robertson and the duck. Robertson will be the first to admit that he hasn’t killed every duck he’s ever shot at. If the truth were known, he has shot far more shells than he has ducks to show for them. That’s why they call it duck HUNTING. The word HUNT implies that there may be the opportunity to come back empty handed.

In America, we go shopping at the grocery store. We don’t go hunting at the grocery store. Hunting at grocery stores is what long lines of people did in Soviet Russian state-run stores.

“Vladimir, I am going hunting at the store,” said Aniskova to her husband.

“Good luck, dear,” said Vladimir.

“I am hunting for a chicken,” Aniskova later said to the store clerk after standing in line for hours.

“Today, we have rubber overshoes in size XXXXL. Nyet on the chickens,” said the store clerk.

“The overshoes have no flavor, are hard to cook and digest, and taste like sand-infused petroleum distillates,” replied Aniskova.

“When properly cooked, they taste just like old merganser to me, but they are so large you can use them for a duck boat if you are going after old mergansers,” said the clerk.

“If that is the case, one just might eat the overshoes. I see you have some millet over there. Maybe I could get a cup of the millet,” said Aniskova.

“The millet is not for human consumption. It is for ranking party members who carry it with them to their dachas to use as duck bait. Apparently they like the taste of old merganser,” said the clerk.

“If they like the taste of old mergansers, would it not be much simpler for them to boil up the overshoes?” asked Aniskova.

“Sure,” said the clerk, “But there would be no duck hunting in that.”

“I’ll take a pair of the overshoes, then,” she said.

“A pair!” said the clerk. “The allotment is one per person. Besides, they are all left feet.”

Aniskova turned to head home in the snow, told Vladimir that all she bagged on her hunting trip was a single left-foot overshoe far too large to wear, and not a single chicken, not even so much as a chicken feather, nor even the scent of chicken. The only part of chicken similarity she had managed to secure was the part that’d blister everything in your garden except for tomato plants, but in her Moscow winter, there were no tomato plants, nor any gardens, only left-footed overshoes big enough for oafish duck hunters hot after old mergansers when all the delights of old mergansers could be had at the state store. As she chopped up the overshoe and placed it in the pot to boil, she had no thought of Phil Robertson. She didn’t even know who Phil Robertson was as he was still the first string quarterback on an obscure Louisiana college football team, missing practice and class so he could duck hunt, much as he may have likely missed out on an NFL career so he could duck hunt, since Terry Bradshaw says hands down Robertson was a far better quarterback. We’ll never know. We just know he liked to duck hunt.

“I just want to duck hunt,” Terry Bradshaw said Phil Robertson said. There is a simple beauty in sincere, modest goals and the desire for a modest life that is appealing to more than a few of us. In the end, Robertson can be said to be of that class that found something they really love to do and figured out how to make a successful living at it. He is a manifestation of the American dream. He is one of us, even if he is not one of us.

So why does he need me to defend him? Why does he need defending at all? He took his very personal love for duck hunting and chose to have it paraded, along with his conservative political and evangelical views, on an international, televised forum. He says controversial things simply because he is an educated, eccentric controvert. Eventually, he will exceed his own controversy recoverability and get gotten by the thought police, the sensitivity police, or cause too many trigger alerts as he refers to duck hunting, which itself is a trigger alert, those timid souls offended by thoughts of him pulling the trigger on fine Eye-talian shotguns will trigger too many alerts on those who want to see him fail, and they will retreat to the safe-spaces college campuses seem to be throwing up everywhere. Those safe spaces will look nothing like a duck blind, maybe like a tornado shelter, concreted, dark, steel-doored, and mausoleum-like. There is safety from being offended in the grave, which is about the only place I can think of that is offense free. Perhaps the safe space has the strong, pleasant smell of carnations. There is safety in carnations, but no one wants to have folks sending hundreds of them in their memory. Death is the ultimate safe haven.

Guess what Robertson will do when he finally exceeds his lifetime bag limit of sensitivity-demerits and is penalized by banishment from reality TV?

He will likely spend more time duck hunting.

How can he lose?

©2015 Mississippi Chris Sharp

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