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Because make no mistake: for a media personality such as Phil Robertson, doing press is part of the job. So making homophobic and racist comments during an interview, for him, is similar to a non-TV personality doing the same thing at the water cooler.
Which brings us to our lessons...
1. Don't make prejudiced comments at work.
A&E, the station that broadcasts Duck Dynasty, has come under fire for suspending Robertson for his comments. After all, he's just saying what he thinks, right?
Wrong. No one can police your thoughts -- or how you express them during your off-time. But when you're at work, whether you toil in a factory or on a reality TV show, you need to keep your comments to yourself.
2. First Amendment rights don't necessarily extend to the workplace.
Wait, what? This is a surprise to many people, but you don't have the legal right to say whatever you want when you're at work. Your employer isn't restricting your rights by requiring you to behave in accordance with company policy (within reason). Your employer is just saying that if you behave in a certain manner, you won't have a job anymore. That's perfectly legal.
Or, as Matthew Iglesias at Slate succinctly puts it, "You do not have a First Amendment right to a TV show."
3. The Golden Rule still applies.
When it comes right down to it, legality is the least important part of the story. Whether or not Phil Robertson can say those things isn't really the issue; it's whether or not he should. Civility goes a long way toward making workplaces productive -- or at the very least, bearable -- for people who work in them. Say about others, so to speak, as you would have them say about you.
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