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Wednesday 9:30 PM on A&E

Because Kaitlin was off saving orphaned kittens in impoverished slums and I was too lazy to get out of bed, we didn't get to all the newsy items that happened over our holiday break. And maybe you spent too many hours doing the backstroke in your eggnog swimming pool and weren't as hardwired as usual to the TV news cycle. So in this special edition of News Briefs, we'll all play catch up on all the important things we missed. Let's go!


THE SOUND OF DUCK CALLS IS ALSO THE SOUND OF CASH REGISTERS

... Before we took off to worship the almighty Christmas tree, A&E's reality megahit Duck Dynasty was in a whole heap of trouble. Phil Robertson, the bearded one LOL, said in an interview with GQ that homosexuality was terrible and A&E didn't know exactly what to do because you aren't supposed to say things like that and the network would look like supporters of hate if it let Phil go unpunished. So A&E suspended Phil from the show. But then the rest of the Robertsons were like, "F to the U, if Phil is out then we're all out!" So of course A&E stuck by their guns and the show was canceled. Except that didn't happen at all, because on December 27, A&E said, "My bad," and reinstated Phil so that the hit series could continue. That was savvy business by A&E, which used the cover of the holidays to get itself out of a crummy situation with as little press as possible. It brings up the idea of the reality star double standard: We want these people to be as "real" as possible for our entertainment, but lose our minds when they say something controversial that we knew was part of the persona we wanted to watch in the first place but were too scared to admit it. A redneck hunting fanatic who lives in the woods and eats frogs? It would have been more surprising if he didn't have a problem with homosexuality. And once the argument of Phil's supporters went from "Free speech!" to "Freedom of religion!" Phil's reinstatement was all but locked up. [TV Line


BUT CAN HE PASS IT BACK TO THE ANCHORS?

... Polarizing football person Tim Tebow finally found a team that wants him! The "quarterback" and former Heisman Trophy winner will now play for... the SEC Network. Tebow, who is still actively looking to join an active NFL roster, will serve as a college football analyst for ESPN and the soon-to-launch SEC Network. [THR]


SALLADHOR SAAN WOULD BE PROUD

... Congratulations, Game of Thrones! You were the most pirated show of 2013, according to illegal-download experts Torrent Freak. The HBO drama's Season 3 finale was stolen 5.9 million times, making it the clear-cut winner (about 5.4 million viewers watched the episode the old-fashioned way in its first run on HBO). Breaking Bad finished in second place, The Walking Dead was third, and rounding out the top 10 were, in order, The Big Bang Theory, DexterHow I Met Your MotherSuitsHomelandVikingsand Arrow. TV.com does not condone illegal downloading except in the cases where no one would find out. [Torrent Freak]  


GOODBYE, UNCLE PHIL

... This is sad. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor James Avery passed away on New Year's Eve following complications from open-heart surgery. Avery, who was 68 years old, played the lovable disciplinarian Uncle Phil, father to Carlton and uncle to Will. As a child raised by television, Avery was an on-screen father figure to me who did it right. [CNN]


LUKE GRIMES IS MORE OF AN ARTIST THAN I WILL EVER BE

... Actor Luke Grimes has abandoned the best role in all of television over creative differences and what I might call a brainfart. Grimes joined True Blood's sixth season as James, a vampire who got to romance and get busy with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll, hence the "best role in all of television"). But after reading some Season 7 scripts and seeing where James is headed, Grimes decided to bounce. The role is currently being recast and I would like to volunteer myself if it involves being within 50 yards of Jessica Hamby. [TV Line]


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As for Game of Thrones being the most pirated show of 2013, I blame The Red Wedding.
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Very sad about James Avery passing away, he was a talented guy and a big personality.

I honestly thought you referred to Duck Dynasty as "megashit". Personally, I figured A&E would cave, and would immediately stop watching their network... if they had anything I was interested in watching in the first place. So, fuck 'em all - just not in the asshole, right Phil? Enjoy A&E standing behind a message of hatred towards gay and black and underage women people (and watch out gay black people!).

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I still can't believe James Avery is dead, it was so soon...
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Where exactly is the hatred towards underaged women...? Cite it precisely as it has to breaking the laws , right? Show the law for Louisiana for under 18 men and women marrying where Phil is proclaiming this hatred...
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The message of hatred towards underaged women is that Phil thinks they shouldn't enjoy the same freedom to grow up, that at 15 years old they should be forced to be a married slave to some guy, that even though they are developmentally still in flux their lives should be forfeit in place of being married off. And whether or not the law allows 15 year olds to marry doesn't make it right, that's not a viable argument for whether it's wrong.
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So the state law that gives the right of under 18 men and women to marry with parental consent is hatred because Phil goes by it?...that's hate for the sake of hate. Don't agree with a law, any law? Advocate its abolishment...but demonizing someone who follows that law undermines whatever moral grounds you stand on.
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The law used to allow for the ownership of other human beings, that didn't make it right. We also used to have laws allowing Native Americans to be removed from their land, and we had laws rounding up Japanese Americans putting them into concentration camps, and the USA was the world's go-to example of eugenics.

There are currently laws permitting bestiality in 12 states, laws allowing first cousins to marry in most states, laws allowing an armed man to get away with killing an unarmed boy and abuse his girlfriend, laws allowing for discrimination, laws allowing violent criminals to get out of jail very early, laws allowing corporations to act unchecked to poison land and destroy economies, laws that let rapists to get away with just a slap on the wrist, laws that allow prostitution, laws that allow gerrymandering, laws that allow child brides.
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Note to self: It is okay to be hateful and ignorant as long as you are making someone millions. Then all will be forgiven.
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James was the best new addition to True Blood for a long, long time - I hope they don't mess too much with his character, and that they get someone that's at least close to as hot as Luke Grimes

Oh and the spam level in comments is just ridiculous today!
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Did anybody doubt the PR stunt by Duck Moronic Dynasty wasn't .... well, a PR stunt?

There's too much money in them thar fake Duck Moronic Dynasty hills and there're too many drooling troglodytic imbeciles out there in American television-land to throw this animal killing show off the air.

Oh darn, there goes my New Year's resolution to be nice and all. Ah, fuck it.
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Animal killing, huh?...well, enjoy your strict vegetarian meals and tolerance for any opinion that doesn't mesh with your own perfect world.
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Uncle Phil was 65, FYI. He was initially listed as being 68, but that was corrected almost right away.
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"And once the argument of Phil's supporters went from "Free speech!" to "Freedom of religion!""


That was always the argument, although freedom to speak about one's religion is certainly part of that. If A&E's lawyers didn't know that firing someone because of their religious beliefs is against the law, A&E needs better lawyers.
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A&E did not break the law when they suspended Phil Robertson. They were well within their rights as employers to fire him for the things he said in the interview. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion applies to the government. It's illegal for the government to infringe upon your rights to free speech and religion. The government wasn't involved in A&E's decision.
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So given the citations below (or above, depending on you have it set to view :) ), have we at least agreed that anti-religious discrimination laws apply to any employer, not just the government?
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For instance, here for an example of someone being fired from a private company because of their religion/nationality, and the EEOC filing suit against the airline company.

Basically, you're saying that since the U.S. is mostly an at-will employment country (except for Montana, I believe), an employer can fire you at will. That's mostly correct, but there are exceptions. Firing because of illegal discrimination is one of those. For a more thorough discussion of the issue, see here.
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No, that would be incorrect.

Really, check out the government laws on religious discrimination.

You can't fire someone because they're a Christian, a Muslim, an atheist, etc. All based on Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964. If you look under Definitions, c), you'll see that private companies are in no way excluded.

That's like saying that only the government is forbidden from firing someone because they're a woman.
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A&E didn't fire Phil because he is Christian, though. They (pretended) to fire him for what he said in the interview. They did not break the laws regarding religious discrimination. They didn't back down and let Phil come back on the show because they suddenly realized they were breaking the law (because they weren't).

If you are Christian working at a store, as a cashier for example, and decide to start telling the customers that they're going to hell because they're gay, then the store can fire you. Your religious and speech rights have not been infringed upon. You can still tell gay people they're going to hell, but the store is not obliged to give you a platform.

A&E's main concern is to continue making money. If you work for A&E and do something that they think harms their brand, then they can legally fire you. I don't know what's in the contract that you sign before going to work for them, but I imagine A&E have covered all their bases.
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The problem isn't you explaining it. It's you providing any proof, expert citation, or case laws, to substantiate your opinion of why it isn't true.

Yes, the EEOC protects people from the consequence of being fired because of their out-of-the-workplace "religious dogma." Really. Read it.

"Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs."

Did A&E treat Robertson unfavorably because of his religious beliefs, however unpleasant, yes or no?
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Gislef

I don't see the point in explaining this to you again. You seem to think that you can wrap everything you say up in religious dogma and suddenly everything is magically protected from consequences. Speech, religious or otherwise, has always had consequences.



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And again, I'm open to proof that what you say is true. But you haven't provided any proof that the EEOC fails to protect those who express controversial/derogatory religious beliefs outside of the workplace. You haven't provided any sources: the distinction you're making so far seems to be based on your opinion. If you're using yourself as a source, are you speaking as a lawyer? a HR representative?

I'm not, which is why I'm providing links to laws and cases. Nothing I've read says that an employer can fire an employee because they or their customers disagree with what the employer outside of the workplace says about their religious beliefs. But if you have read that somewhere, direct me to it and I'd be glad to consider it.
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They fired him because he expressed his sincerely held religious beliefs, yes (and outside of the workplace), quoting the Bible. The EEOC protests controversial and derogatory religious beliefs as well: it makes no distinction.

You can certainly suffer consequences for expressing your religious beliefs. However, the EEOC is clear that being hired or fired because of them are not consequences you have to suffer. If people refused to watch DD because of what Robertson said, or buy their products, those would be consequences he would receive no protection against.

"The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs."

If you feel otherwise, again, could you provide some citation to indicate that you receive no protection if you choose to state your religious beliefs? Right now you keep saying that at-will hiring overrides the EEOC, but you haven't provided any source to back that up.

I'd agree with you that the suspension was a joke.
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Gislef, you keep saying A&E fired Phil simply because of his religious beliefs (outside the workplace), when that simply isn't true. If A&E had fired him simply for his religious beliefs then all the laws you linked to would certainly apply. He was not discriminated against because of his religious beliefs, if that was the case then the entire family would never have been hired in the first place. He was "suspended" for the insulting derogatory comments he made about gay people in the GQ interview.

We don't have a right to speech without consequences. This is why it was legal for the Food Network to fire Paula Deen, and for CNN to fire Alec Baldwin, and for A&E to suspend Phil Robertson. Claiming religious belief isn't a free pass to say whatever you like without facing the consequences.

It seems you believe that as long as what you say is backed up by your religious beliefs then there can be no consequences. That isn't what those laws you linked to mean at all.

I don't have anything else to add about this, other than I think A&E are hypocrites who have known all along that Phil was likely to say something embarrassing, and that the suspension was a joke.

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Plus, while I don't mind a good appeal to authority, at least let's know what that authority is, and what they did. We don't know if A&E consulted with their lawyers initially, if they consulted with new lawyers later who reminded them about anti-discrimination law, if Robertson's lawyers who also know about contract and employment law made the case it was religious discrimination, or... what. All we know is the results, and we don't know from that if A&E feared a discrimination lawsuit, a loss of revenue, both, neither, or something else.

So I don't think we can rely on the omniscience of the lawyers :) until we know which lawyers said what, and the real reason for why A&E rehired/unsuspended Robertson. Until then (i.e., probably never), IMO let's stick to existing law and case history. If there's a citation that supports a company firing someone for their religious beliefs outside of the workplace, I'll be glad to reconsider.
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Well, yes, you can prove to me I'm wrong by providing citations to reputable sources showing that you can fire someone for stating their religious beliefs outside of the workplace. If you can do that, you certainly will go a long way to convince me that A&E had the legal right to do so.

I've cited both general law, and specific instances where the EOOC filed suit for someone simply because of their religion, when it had no impact on their workplace. So far you haven't cited any law involving legally firing someone only because of their religion. You given hypotheticals about termination because the employee was harassing and going beyond reasonable accommodation (didn't happen with Robertson), and appealing to authority by saying that the A&E lawyers must know what they're doing, without providing any citation to back up what they did or didn't doi

Paula Dean wasn't fired for her religious beliefs outside of the workplace. Alec Baldwin wasn't fired because of his religious beliefs outside of the workplace. Martin Bashir wasn't fired for his religious beliefs outside of the workplace.

There are specific laws against illegally firing someone because of religious discrimination. If we can agree that's what A&E did, or you can provide the case law showing that it was permissible in Robertson's case, then I'll be glad to move onto the new topic and discuss relative degrees of importance between religious discrimination and free speech.
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Gislef, I can't directly reply to your latest comment because there's no reply button so this will be out of order...

I can't prove to you that you're wrong about all this because you're sure that you're right, and that's alright. I can't force you to understand the law. I can't make you understand that A&E are well aware of employment laws, and contract laws. I apparently I can't convince you that an employer such as A&E has the right to fire an employee that reflects badly on their brand.

I wonder if you think the Food Network broke the law when they fired Paula Dean? She didn't make racist comments on the air. Or when CNN canceled Alec Baldwin's show because of the anti-gay remarks he made? He didn't make them on the show. Or when CNN fired Martin Bashir for the comments he made about Sarah Palin? Do you think religious speech is more important (in the eyes of the law) than other speech?
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As I noted in another post, I'd agree with you if Robertson had done something on the show involving his beliefs. If he himself discriminated against or harassed someone because of his beliefs (the example you're describing), then yes, they'd have legitimate grounds to fire him. That's not what happened.

And no... you can't fire someone if their religion in and of itself harms your "brand." Again, that's discrimination and the Civil Rights Act makes it illegal. At the very least, by firing Robertson for stating his religious beliefs outside of the show itself, they were getting into very sticky legal ground. IMO, they had a kneejerk reaction because of GLAAD's complaint and then later talked to their workplace lawyers, and had their change of heart.
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What he said in the interview were his Christian religious beliefs. His statements outside of the show were their stated reason for suspending/firing him.

By the same token, if I posted at home on Facebook that I was a Muslim, and expressed Muslim views, then my employer couldn't legally fire me for being a Muslim. If I gave a local newspaper an interview and expressed my Muslim views, my employer couldn't legally fire me.

A company can't legally fire you because you express religious beliefs outside of the work environment. Inside of it, they have to make reasonable accommodations. In your example, the employee harassed a customer: that would go beyond reasonable accommodations. But that's different then the situation with Robertson. He harassed no one. If he had, for instance, harangued the camera crew with his views, A&E would have had just cause.
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Looked up a picture of Debora Ann Woll, can I volunteer?
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RIP James Avery. Growing up with Fresh Prince, Uncle Phil taught me more than a few life lessons.
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Grr, fuck you, A&E
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"James, a vampire who got to romance and get busy with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll, hence the "best role in all of television")."
I whole-heartedly agree with this.

"I would like to volunteer myself if it involves being within 50 yards of Jessica."
Sorry Tim, but this would be in breach of the restraining order!
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Next, A&E will give Phil Robertson a talk show to host in which he'll present in details his views on religion, homosexuality and other controversial topics. And if people really have a problem with that, well, I suppose nobody will watch it.
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"It brings up the idea of the reality star double standard: we want these people to be as "real" as possible for our entertainment, but lose our minds when they say something controversial that we knew was part of that persona we wanted to watch in the first place but were too scared to admit it."

Eh. If he had said it on the show, A&E might have had a case to stand on. At least they could say the suspension-cum-firing was show-related. When you start firing people because of what they do off the show, particularly when it involves their race, creed, or color or statements of belief about same, it's a problem...
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You suck A&E.
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Pretty much either way you look at it, yup.
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Why?...cause it made a business decision first and foremost? You can push all the negativity you want on the Duck Dynasty show but the fact is, the show is a huge cash cow for the network. People aren't abandoning the merchandise, the show's ratings are enviable for a cable network, etc...
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Because they have no integrity. If what you say was their bottom line all along they never should've suspended him. This is cynical and callous.
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I don't think we should look to corporations for integrity... ;)
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They probably would have left Phil suspended indefinitely (see how they handled Dog: The Bounty Hunter) but public opinion pushed back and yes, the bottom line...every show deals with it whether its a star looking for a pay raise (CSI) or a celeb going off the deep end of a shallow pool (Charlie Sheen).
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