Duck Dynasty, Duck Commander Wines, and the Freedom to Discriminate

Duck Dynasty has caught the imagination of millions of viewers. I’ve only seen a few segments, so I can’t speak to the attraction, although I’ve read a number of articles that explain why the show is so popular.

But with popularity comes differences of opinion. The latest is over wine.

“Despite his devotion to dinner time prayers and Christian values, ‘Duck Dynasty’ star Willie Robertson has been axed from speaking at a benefit in Bristol, Tenn. for the faith and bible-driven organization, Family Ministries.”

Robertson was disinvited because of the family’s new business venture — Duck Commander Wines.

This isn’t anything new. Charlton Heston had been invited to speak at Mars Hill Bible School in Florence, Alabama, for its annual fund-raising banquet. Controversy erupted after Heston was seen doing a Bud Light beer commercial that aired during the 1996 Super Bowl.

Millions of Christians are taught that the Bible prohibits drinking alcohol. I’m not going to take up the argument here. If you want to study the issue, you can pick up a copy of What Would Jesus Drink? For whatever reason, Family Ministries and Mars Hill Bible School had the right to invite or disinvite anybody they want.

Heston’s response in a released statement to the controversy is important:

“If my lighthearted commercial broadcast during the Super Bowl offended anyone, I respect their beliefs. I would not dream of holding the organization to their commitment if they would prefer I would not appear.”

There’s a political lesson that needs to be discussed. The Christian Ministry and the Bible School and the Duck Dynasty folks and Charlton Heston hold a particular set of beliefs. No government agency is involved in the transaction in the maintenance of those beliefs. Each of the participants is free to act in terms of those beliefs. This is the way it should be, even if you and I might vehemently disagree with their reasoning.

This is no longer the case. With the passage of new legislation created to carve out special rights for politically designated groups, certain types of business transactions are now the legal domain of the State.

A business is an extension of the business owner. If a business owner wants to sever a business relationship with someone because of the customer’s personal views (no matter what they are) or behavior, then so be it. It’s not the government’s business.

Homosexuals have now been given special legal status. Business owners are now being forced to engage in business practices that are contrary to their beliefs. For example, a photography company in New Mexico was sued because it would not photograph a same-sex wedding. A bakery was sued because it refused to make a cake specifically designed for a same-sex wedding.

These special legal carve-outs are just the beginning. When the State declares certain behaviors and viewpoints to have special legal status, there is no end to the tyranny.

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