Duck Dynasty controversy hits Knoxville

Duck Dynasty controversy hits Knoxville

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A&E suspended Phil Robertson from its popular series "Duck Dynasty" after he made comments about homosexuality to GQ Magazine. A&E suspended Phil Robertson from its popular series "Duck Dynasty" after he made comments about homosexuality to GQ Magazine.
Maryville-based Clayton homes features the family larger than life on some of their models named for the Duck Dynasty stars. Maryville-based Clayton homes features the family larger than life on some of their models named for the Duck Dynasty stars.
"I think it's probably a PR nightmare for everyone involved," said Rick Laney, a local marketing consultant. "I think it's probably a PR nightmare for everyone involved," said Rick Laney, a local marketing consultant.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A member of the "Duck Dynasty" clan has been suspended indefinitely from the top-rated reality show after condemning gays as sinners in a recent interview. A&E airs the series and announced the hiatus of Phil Robertson, 67, Wednesday.

Robertson told a reporter from GQ magazine that being gay "isn't right." He also said African Americans were "happy" before the Civil Rights movement.

Robertson's family released a statement Thursday night:

"We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil's unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." Phil would never incite or encourage hate. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family."

Gay rights groups are praising A&E for its fast response, but Robertson also has a lot of supporters, some of whom are planning to boycott the network.

Knoxville residents packed the civic auditorium in October for a fundraiser featuring two members of the Robertson clan, Alan and Si.

Maryville-based Clayton homes features the family larger than life on some of their models named for the "Duck Dynasty" stars. 

"I think it's probably a PR nightmare for everyone involved," said Rick Laney, a local marketing consultant.

"Doing business with any type of celebrity endorsement and aligning your brand with a celebrity is always a major gamble," Laney said.

When the celebrity causes controversy, any company with an endorsement deal has to take a stand.

"It doesn't really matter what your own belief system is, whether you agree or disagree with him. From a business standpoint, it's a financial move. Does it benefit us?" Laney said.

Walmart carries a full line of "Duck Dynasty" products from clothing and jewelry to board games and beach towels. 6 News asked a few shoppers to weigh in on Robertson's controversial interview.

"He should keep it to himself. It's not for the public. It's kitchen table talk," said Deborah Mallory

"I respect his opinion, but I think it hurts a lot of people to say things like that," said Becky Ball.

"I don't necessarily agree with viewpoint, but I'll stand behind his right to say it as long as I live because that's America," said Frances Lee.

"Some of the reactions to the controversy make it clear that there are fundamental misunderstanding about what is covered by the First Amendment and what Biblical values are.  At a time of year when we are talking about peace on earth and good will, I hope we will take a step back and reflect on the ways we misread the Constitution and our sacred texts in order to justify demeaning others," said Chris Sanders, Executive Director of Tennessee Equality Project and Tennessee Equality Project Foundation.

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