Phil Robertson is an old fart I'd never heard of on a show I never watched ...

... but I think it's a shame that he was removed from the popular "Duck Dynasty" for his homophobic comments. Yes, they were idiotic things to say. And no, I'm not arguing that we should live with it. Quite the opposite: I find the pushback fierce and often funny. But I draw short of celebrating when a homophobic offender is punished by removing them from the conversation.

The removal of Mr. Robertson is a disservice to the cause of gay equality. It's minor, but a disservice. 

For a ripping argument we must allow the opposing view. If the opposing view is removed, we are denied the ability to fight. We're put in the winner's seat too early. This allows conservatives to wail about oppressive "elites" (because after all, their monkey brains can only understand status).

Let me note that I don't give a shit about Fox News (and their ilk) calling us the "thought police." They're so entry-level human it's not worth lowering my standards to engage. If my side is tweaking reactionaries, hooray! Watch them go!

But I do care about the conversation.

I believe homophobia should be aired and examined, not given a showy, corporate-inspired "time out." To punish people for expressing strikes me as very right-wing. We are the side of self-expression. Self-expression includes being a homophobic dick -- as well as protest, parody, and, if it comes to it, boycotts. The power to remove Mr. Robertson should come from a groundswell of public antipathy leading to the devaluing of his product. Instead the gays were saved by a cautious corporate conflict-avoider from above. We're letting ourselves be put in protective custody. Return us to the general population, please. 

Having an enemy is indeed unpleasant. But our faithful enemies often prove our friends in the long run. I'm grateful to the "God Hates Fags" Phelps clan for being so HONEST all these years. They expose a bigotry that straight culture would keep hidden. They're a homophobic Dorian Gray painting pulled from the attic and given access to a Kinko's. 2008's Prop 8 in California encouraged a national conversation about gay marriage -- without it, where would gay marriage be now? (And word to Anita Bryant: if I sent out Holiday Cards I'd send one to you every year. Thank you, dear.)

By letting them speak freely, our enemies never fail us. They provide the argument on which a gay rights platform can be built. We know we're right. So leave the bigot mike on. Bring back the old fart I'd never heard of on the show I'll never watch. Sit him by me.