Monday, December 23, 2013

Dusty's Ducks

A fellow named Dusty has posted a video on the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle (h/t Louis Proyect). Mr. Proyect offers it without comment, but he labels it under humor, among other categories. That does seem apt.

A more vituperative, angry response to a TV show is hard to imagine. That said, there are a couple of points where Dusty and I agree.

1) This is not a free speech issue. A&E certainly has the right to schedule its programming as it wishes.

2) It's not actually a reality show. The Robertsons are actors playing a cartoon version of themselves. Like actors the world over, they get into costume before appearing on camera. Dusty calls that "fake," but it's no more fake than any other TV show.

Beyond this, ironies abound.

The duck gang has expressed irritation with A&E for bleeping the soundtrack, as if there were profanity. They deny that they ever use profanity, and I'm inclined to believe them. Devoutly religious people don't use swear words.

Contrast that with Dusty, whose vocabulary consists mostly of profanity. A&E would have to bleep his entire speech! His favorite word is douchebag--that's the term he uses to describe Phil Robertson, all his kin, and Christians in general. This is an odd term: it's related to douche, which refers to "the cleansing product for vaginas." It's hard to know who's being insulted here: Christians because they're like dirty vaginas, or women because they're like Christians.

So Dusty claims that "nothing brings out the Christian love like hating us gay people." That's the felony, but for good measure he adds two misdemeanors: Christians (in the person of Phil Robertson) are ignorant and bigoted. Now I agree with him--Phil Robertson is ignorant. He's poorly educated and not widely traveled. And he's probably bigoted as well.

But he's not hateful. Phil does not threaten violence against gays, or even their civil rights. He just thinks that gays are tempted by their unique version of sin. As I said in my last post, "[i]f a gay man were to encounter a Robertson, the worst that could happen is he'd get an earful about the need for repentance and the saving power of Jesus Christ. And then he'd be invited over for dinner..."

Dusty is the man who is hateful, as the language, anger, and vitriol he directs against the Robertsons demonstrates.

A second irony is that Dusty sports a Darwin fish tee-shirt. I assume he refers to Phil's creationist views. As I said, Phil is not an educated man. He is an entertainer, and not an intellectual or political leader. In this he is similar to any number of other Hollywood airheads, like George Clooney or Prince Charles. You can't take them too seriously.

The irony arises because Dusty ignores the consequences of his own professed belief. As readers of this blog know, there aren't many people who can out-Darwin me, so let me school Dusty.

We live in an environment where birth control is cheap and widely available. It appears that people who use birth control have fewer children and grandchildren than people who don't use birth control. Thus any combination of genes and memes that inhibit using birth control will be favored. On the other hand, more permissive gene/meme combos will be less fecund.

My observation is that devoutly religious people tend not to use birth control. This includes not only fundamentalists Christians, but Mormons, devout Muslims, Amish, orthodox Jews, etc. The Robertson family is a case in point: Phil, at age 67, has thirteen grandchildren, and his parents have around 50 great-grandchildren. (Reproducing the species requires an average of four grandchildren.)

Compare this with a secular crowd. Take elderly Trotskyists for example, and even include some elderly ex-Trotskyists, such as Mr. Proyect or me. Put a random sample of such folks in a room until they, collectively, accumulate thirteen grandchildren (to rival Phil). How many Trotskyists would it take? I'll hazard more than thirteen. The median Trotskyist likely doesn't have any grandchildren, much less thirteen.

Phil Robertson's religion is crackpot--Dusty and I agree--but it is very successful in the Darwinian sense, measured by how many grandchildren you've got. I anticipate getting a few, but from what I know, Dusty's prognosis is not good. I think that's why he's so mad. If present trends continue, religious people will win the demographic culture war.

Duck Dynasty is not popular because of Phil's views about gays or creationism. That might be important to Phil, but its not what makes the show tick. It appeals to middle-aged women because it represents an aspirational ideal for them. Women want 1) a stable marriage with a faithful husband, who 2) is wealthy and has 3) earned his money in a He-Man profession. And while he engages many man-child hijinks, when in the presence of the ladies he 4) behaves like a gentleman.

And on the fourth point, Phil Robertson and I agree. No gentleman would ever call anybody a douchebag.

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