Woody: Ducking the Dynasty flap

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As I followed the recent Duck Dynasty uproar, it occurred to me how simple it would be to duck it -- and other similar squabbles:

If you don't like something or someone on TV, turn the channel.

If you don't care for Phil Robertson, his particular notions or his scraggly beard, turn him off. Don't watch the TV show on which he sometimes proselytizes.

I'm fairly sure Phil won't climb through your window, duct-tape (or duck-tape) you to your recliner, and force you to listen to him spout off.

The same goes for PETA and all the other animal-rights activists who keep bellyaching about the Robertsons shooting ducks. If you don't want to shoot a duck, stay out of the duck blind.

But of course that's not good enough for the perpetually-offended. Their idea of tolerance is to tolerate only what they agree with.

Some critics called Phil and his bearded boys "ignorant rednecks," apparently unaware that they hold Masters Degrees and are self-made millionaires. I suppose ignorance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Understand, I don't agree with some of the more extreme views Phil expressed during the GQ Magazine interview that got him in hot water. But I was surprised that his bosses at the A&E Channel seemed shocked.

Did they somehow mistake Phil Robertson for Miley Cyrus, and expect to see him twerking ducks and swinging naked from a wrecking ball?

Has anyone ever confused the Robertsons with the Kardashians?

I suspect that most of Duck Dynasty's 10 million faithful viewers have long been aware of Phil's conservative sentiments. He has never made a secret of -- or apology for -- his fundamentalist beliefs and traditional social attitudes. Each of the episodes concludes with Robertson offering a prayer as his family gathers around with heads bowed.

I was equally surprised to see Lebanon-based Cracker Barrel plunge head-first into the controversy, like a retriever going after a downed mallard. Officials announced they were pulling some Duck Dynasty merchandise from the stores, then, like A&E, backed down in the face of a public backlash.

The wise thing for Cracker Barrel would have been to keep its beak out of the squabble, because any side it took would be the wrong side for some. The Duck Dynasty stuff was already on the shelves; let their customers choose whether they want to buy it or not.

I've never met any of the Duck Dynasty cast, but hunting buddy Barry Stricklin had Phil and son Willie as guests on a Nashville radio show he co-hosted. Barry said he's never met more delightful, insightful, down-to-earth folks.

After the early-morning show, Barry and fellow host Mike Ridings invited Phil and Willie to breakfast at any restaurant of their choice. Instead of some fancy big-city eatery, they chose Waffle House. And they said a prayer over their scrambled eggs. The Robertsons don't tie their religion to the Nielsen Ratings.

The Duck Dynasty show is, of course, totally scripted. But the characters are genuine, and that's why I've always been a fan.

Is it corny? Sure. But it's also funny -- most of us have wacky hunting/fishing buddies like the Robertsons. And beneath the cornball humor and staged antics runs a more serious underlying theme about the bonds of faith and family.

If someone doesn't care for the message or the messenger, there's an OFF button on their remote control. It will solve their problem.

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Larry Woody
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