If you think the A&E Network’s decision to indefinitely suspend the star of its cash cow “Duck Dynasty” made bad business sense, wait until you hear what Cracker Barrel did. Yesterday the restaurant chain that made its name and fortune on the appetites of Southern folk like Phil Robertson and the rest of his duck-calling entrepreneurial family decided to pull some “Duck Dynasty” merchandise from its stores.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Cracker Barrel cited its “pleasing people” motto and its commitment to “the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people.” The company then explained why “Duck Dynasty” no longer may reflect those ideals:
It didn’t take long for “Duck Dynasty” fans to voice their outrage to Cracker Barrel, which has more than 67,000 employees at its 600-plus stores. At last check, the Facebook statement had sparked more than 27,000 comments, most of them from regular diners who said they won’t be any longer. The post also has been shared more than 4,900 times, presumably by those same former customers telling their friends to boycott Cracker Barrel in the future.
All of which made me wonder: Why would Cracker Barrel take this stand? The executives and corporate board members who run the chain surely know that most of the people who shop and eat at an “old country store and restaurant” are the enlightened rednecks who sided with the Robertsons. Yet Cracker Barrel decided to cast its lot with A&E, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the Human Rights Campaign.
I found the answer in Cracker Barrel’s corporate history — not the filtered, flattering version the company tells but the version you can find via Google. The key finding: Cracker Barrel has been in trouble with homosexual rights activists before.
How much trouble? Enough that The New York Times emphasized the controversy in its 2012 obituary for Cracker Barrel founder Dan Evins. The paper mentioned the issue in the headline and lead, and expounded on it at length in its coverage:
Filed under: Business and Culture and Food and Hatin' On Rednecks and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and Religion
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A deadbeat dad, a prodigal son and a suicidal grandson — meet the Robertsons of “Duck Dynasty” fame who you don’t get to see on the popular A&E television series every week.
In a video produced for the “I Am Second” movement, family patriarch Phil Robertson, his youngest son Jep and his grandson Reed share stories from their darkest days and how faith and family pulled them through the spiritual turbulence. The half-hour film features several powerful anecdotes that illustrate the crushing weight of sin and the great relief that Jesus Christ freely offers to all men who seek forgiveness and then obey Him.
At one point, Phil Robertson explains the difference between rednecks and “river rats” — and why he gave the fish that fed his family to one group of thieving river rats in particular. He recounted the story while recalling the Bible’s teachings about being good to your enemies, praying for those who persecute you, not returning evil for evil and feeding those who are hungry.
“These river rats would steal my fish; I’d caught several of them before,” he said, adding that he always threatened them with death by shotgun. God’s commands didn’t make any “earthly sense” to him, but Phil Robertson decided to try it God’s way.
Filed under: Family and Parenting and People and Rednecks and Religion and Video
For the record, Vice President Joe Biden did not invite a biker lady to sit on his lap. He did the gentlemanly thing and pulled up a chair so she could get her picture taken with him. A smart photographer captured the candid moments after the posed picture, and people on Twitter started a rumor about something that didn’t happen the way they saw it.
Sadly, I fell for the Twitter hype about the photo. I’m glad to have heard the rest of the story.
Also for the record, pizza entrepreneur Scott Van Duzer did hug President Obama during a campaign trip to Van Duzer’s Florida restaurant — and people are protesting the pizza shop over the hug. Obama haters flocked to the website Yelp to give Big Apple Pizza negative reviews for political rather than culinary reasons.
As an American, I support people’s right to register any political protest they desire, but I also reserve my right to expose some such antics for what they are — petty politics. Van Duzer, a Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and plans to do so again, is right: “There’s no middle line anymore, and that’s exactly what’s wrong with our country right now.”
Scott Van Duzer appears to be a good man, and he is doing good work through his own foundation. He shouldn’t be catching business grief for hugging, or even voting for, President Obama. Disagree with his political views if you want — I do — but leave his business out of it.
If I lived in Fort Pierce, Fla., I would be heading to Big Apple Pizza to buy a pie and show my support for the right of small businessmen to freedom of political speech and action. As a conservative, I cannot expect the same — remember the Chick-fil-A uproar — but this is a clear opportunity to “treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31).
Filed under: Business and Food and Human Interest and News & Politics and People and Photography and Religion
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There may be a few rednecks rooting for President Obama, but the president’s Democratic Party certainly isn’t a welcoming place for rednecks. Behold the “party of inclusion” and “tolerance” when its members are asked just how big their tent really is:
Let’s recap that dialogue for posterity:
Filed under: Hatin' On Rednecks and Hunting & Guns and Just For Laughs and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and Religion and Video
Once upon a time, the family newspaper and its local broadcast equivalents cared enough about wholesome conversation to filter the profanities lest they offend the sensibilities of their readers, listeners or viewers. Either news executives don’t care anymore or their audiences have no sensibilities, or both, because the cussing is everywhere in journalism.
The latest evidence: The a-word is all over NPR. It has appeared in NPR coverage 22 times in the past year, most often when sources say it on air.
Worse, when a publication has a fit of common sense by not assaulting readers with vulgar, suggestive language, it faces ridicule for being puritanical. That’s what happened to the Los Angeles Times and other publications that showed discretion in not publicizing the name of a certain Russian punk band that has been in the news recently.
Filed under: Culture and Education and Media and News & Politics and People and Religion
This morning as I rounded the corner to depart the Metro station in our nation’s capital, the man behind me uttered a four-letter word devoid of any apparent context. For a moment, I wondered what I had done to offend him, and then I looked forward and realized why he cursed. Both escalators were broken, so he was going to have to walk up 72 steps to get to the street level.
My first thought was that his vulgar, one-word outburst is proof that America truly is plagued by an “obesity epidemic.” We’re so fat and lazy that we can’t even bear the thought of walking up the stairs. But another thought came to me as I read an article about how coarse our discourse has become. People are cursing so much that government officials feel compelled to punish it:
Language isn’t the only evidence of a country headed over a cliff into the abyss of spiritually defiant vulgarity. At our 12-year-old son’s soccer tournament over the weekend, I saw the kind of soccer mom who gives rednecks a bad name. She had a bare-breasted woman tattooed onto the back of her right shoulder — a shoulder that she proudly bared so hundreds of young children could see her body porn. She’s an embarrassment to soccer Moms, all Moms and all womankind, and sadly, she doesn’t care.
We can’t regulate bad words and bad behavior like hers out of existence, nor should we necessarily even try. But decent people who say nothing as filth continues to saturate American culture — and parents who tolerate it among or, worse, teach it to their children — should be ashamed.
We, the people, have allowed a great nation to become the United States of Profanity, and only we can steer our children and our country onto a more wholesome path.
UPDATE, 6/12: Residents of Middleborough voted 183-50 for the fines on public profanity. Ideally, Americans would take the hint and wash their own mouths out with soap so their neighbors or the government don’t feel compelled to act. But that’s unlikely.
Filed under: Culture and Government and History and News & Politics and Parenting and Rednecks and Religion
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The Bible clearly teaches that you reap what you sow, and if you play with rattlesnakes and refuse medical treatment after being bitten, eventually the poison will win.
So it was with Mark Randall (Mack) Wolford, the leader of a snake-handling church in West Virginia who, like his father decades ago, died this week after a timber rattlesnake bit him during worship. His sister’s account of what happened: “He laid [the snake] on the ground and he sat down next to the snake, and it bit him on the thigh.”
Wolford is the subject of a forthcoming documentary called “With Signs Following.” You can see his biblically ill-informed, ritualistic snake-handling practices in the trailer, which was released in December:
The saddest part of the story is that Wolford died thinking that God endorsed his method of worship and that his family and followers still believe it. “I’m proud of him and don’t want to see him die … but if he does, it’s still the word,” his mother says in the opening of the film’s trailer.
But hopefully filmmaker Kate Fowler’s analysis will prove prophetic about the impact of Wolford’s death: “He’s kind of been the person who kept the faith alive. I think we’ll see a sharp decline [of snake-handling worship] in West Virginia, at least of people openly practicing the faith.”
The sooner this redneck tradition disappears, the better it will be for the reputation of West Virginia because reporters no longer will have material to write stereotypical features like The Washington Post Magazine did on Wolford last fall.
Filed under: News & Politics and People and Religion and Video and West Virginia and Wildlife
Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen created a firestorm of rhetorical protest last week after she chided first-lady-wannabe Ann Romney’s credentials. In a CNN appearance Rosen said that Romney can’t possibly identify with the economic concerns of women in America because she “never worked a day in her life.”
Proctor & Gamble knows better. A sponsor of the 2012 Olympics, the company just released a video that captures the hard-working essence of motherhood — being there for your children:
The video’s storyline focuses on mothers of future Olympians, but the closing message is a reminder to the Hilary Rosens of the world that stay-at-home mothers do real work and have valuable insights into the economics of life. “The hardest job in the world,” the video says, “is the best job in the world. Thank you, Mom.”
Josh Romney and his brothers know that about their own mother. “She could have pursued a career in teaching, business or science,” Josh Romney wrote of Ann Romney in the book “Life Lessons from Mothers of Faith.” “But she always knew that the profession that would bring her the most happiness and fulfillment was that of a mom.”
Let’s hope the power brokers in Washington now see the value of mothers, too.
Filed under: Culture and News & Politics and Parenting and People and Religion and Video
“They can’t see past their prejudices.” That’s what misogynistic, hate-spewing and hypocritical HBO talker Bill Maher said right after airing this prejudicial portrayal of Mississippi voters:
Slate’s Dave Weigel is right that it’s fair game to expose “stupid voters” for what they are by accurately reporting what they say and believe. Video producer John Ziegler did a great job of exposing the civics ignorance of Barack Obama voters on Election Day 2008 in his brilliant short video “How Obama Got Elected.”
But the video on Maher’s show revived the same predictable redneck-bashing stereotypes that liberal elites have embraced for decades to malign people who don’t think like they do. You knew the video was going to be bad because Maher tried to rebut the inevitable outcry of Mississippians, other “real Americans in the South” and their conservative brethren before his producers even hit the play button.
“She did not cherry-pick these people,” he insisted of video producer Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “… We are not making fun of anybody. She did not seek out people who look like what some people would say rednecks [look like].
Maher repeated that defense after the video aired — “[Pelosi] said she cut out 20 people who also did not have teeth” — but the disingenuousness of that claim became apparent as he, his guests and the audience laughed about the physical appearance of the people featured in and cut out of the video. The video was so obviously designed to perpetuate a myth about toothless, ignorant redneck voters in the South that even liberals are criticizing it.
Filed under: Culture and Hatin' On Rednecks and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and Religion and Video and West Virginia
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Our family just finished watching a marathon of last season’s “Top Shot” on the History Channel, and we were all thrilled to see Dustin Ellerman, who runs a religious camp in Texas, win the $100,000 prize. He was probably the only competitor on the show who didn’t need to be bleeped for vulgarity.
After watching the season finale, I decided to poke around the Internet to learn more about Ellerman and found this post-”Top Shot” interview with him on CBN:
What an excellent role model!
For a while today, I wasn’t so sure I had made a wise choice in picking “Top Shot” for quality father/son and male-bonding time with our 12-year-old. Although the History Channel bleeps most of the bad language from its reality shows, it’s fairly easy to interpret them visually, and the bad guy of “Top Shot,” Jake Zweig, uttered the f-word so many times during a couple of the episodes that I almost turned off the show.
But after seeing Ellerman win, I’m glad we watched to the end. The bad guy revealed himself to be a total loser in every respect, and the good guy won convincingly, after weeks of demonstrating both sportsmanship and humility. He stayed true to his faith and quietly let his light shine before people who clearly don’t put God first.
Those are lessons I’m glad our children had the opportunity to learn. Who’d have thunk they could learn it by watching reality TV?
Filed under: Entertainment and Hunting & Guns and People and Religion and Video
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