I don’t watch Duck Dynasty, nor do I care what some random guy on a strange reality show thinks. But I do care about our collective understanding of the First Amendment and what it means. The First Amendment protects our individual right to say what we want without intervention or recourse from the government. This is a fundamental right in our nation, and sets us apart from many countries and cultures that would imprison someone for their words, or censor them before they say it.
The guy from Duck Dynasty said what he said. He exercised his right. He was not prevented from saying it, nor does he face any sanctions from our government for his words or his thoughts. He is free to say it again.
However, everyone should understand -- especially former vice presidential candidates -- that the First Amendment does not protect you from all the negative consequences of your words, no matter how public those consequences may be. You are free to say it, but the public is equally free to react.
If you chose to say something stupid, or bigoted, or idiotic, or even just something others disagree with – even if it’s something you strongly believe -- other free people have the right to disagree, to publicly condemn you, to boycott you, and to stop listening to you. Private companies often have the right to fire you. Commercial sponsors have the right to drop your show. And, television networks have the right to cancel your program. That’s our freedom, no matter what it is you believe.
So, whatever you think about Duck-gate, what has happened in reaction is not a trampling of First Amendment rights. In fact, it’s an expression of that freedom as everyone else exercises their rights, too. Isn’t freedom great.