I can’t believe I’m writing about the Duck Dynasty Thing.
Yesterday, one of my former students pinged me about the Duck Dynasty petition on Change.org
— Tim Lowden (@tdlowden) December 19, 2013
Here was my response:
@tdlowden no. comment. Except… If Change elevates this to the front page, I will probably have an aneurism. But they won’t. They won’t.
— davekarpf (@davekarpf) December 19, 2013
At the time, the petition talked about how Phil Robertson’s first AND second amendment rights were being violated. That’s a silly misreading of the first amendment (the constitution does not guarantee your right to keep your tv show if you say something offensive. No really, I just double-checked. It doesn’t.) and a non-existent reading of the second amendment. But Change is an open platform, and if fans of the show want to offer an inarticulate defense of their favorite bigot, I don’t particularly care.
Change.org has now elevated the petition to the front page*. So now I’m stuck blogging about it.
There’s a business-upside to this decision. The petition has 89,000 signatures so far. A lot of those are probably new signups. The Christian Right is getting an introduction to Change.org, and that has to be good for the bottom line.
The downside is that it runs directly counter to Change.org’s feel-good creation story. Ben Rattray’s inspiration for starting the organization came from a younger brother who came out to him. He wanted to empower people like his brother, so he switched from an intended career in investment banking to a career in social change.
Now look, this whole controversy is pretty dumb. Chris Hayes had a great segment about this on his show last night (see below). The appeal of Duck Dynasty is that it shows charming, self-proclaimed “rednecks” saying charming redneck things. The show is overwhelmingly popular. A&E is sure to un-suspend the guy so it can produce the next season. In the meantime, a lot of commentators are going to jump on the bullshit bandwagon. There are much more important things to care about. Unemployment insurance is going to expire 3 days after christmas, endangering 1.3 million people and hurting the economy. But that issue is a downer, and you can attract way more pageviews by focusing on the Duck Dynasty outrage.
My thinking yesterday was that (1) Change.org is an open platform that can be used by pretty much anyone, (2) it adds value to petitions by promoting them to the front page and putting organizers in touch with petition-creators, (3) those limited organizing resources tend to be focused more on cultural issues than political issues, and (4) the company has to hold true to its identity, so jumping on this particular bandwagon doesn’t make much sense.
I guess I was wrong about (4). I have no idea what this company stands for.
It appears they’ve also reached out to the petition-creator and helped clean up the sloppy language. The second amendment stuff is now gone.
[correction: nope, I was wrong about this footnote. The second amendment stuff is still there.]