The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

December 28, 2013

Look for better times in 2014; politicians will need our votes

By Lynn Saternow
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- — HAPPY NEW YEAR! Well, at least we can hope it’s a happy 2014.

We faced a lot of problems here in the United States in 2013, adding to the superstitious beliefs that the No. 13 is unlucky.

However, as a guy who wore the No. 13 for his entire long, long softball-playing career, I can tell you luck has nothing to do with it. Many of the problems were caused by an inept United States Congress and a president who obviously was greatly misinformed by his advisers concerning Obamacare.

The people of this country are tired of the political abyss as every poll shows. Even stink bugs have a higher popularity rating than Congress.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent, the problems in Washington are hard to accept and there is plenty of blame to go around for everyone.

But look for it to improve in 2014. No, not because the elected officials are really willing to work together. It’s only because with mid-term elections coming up next year, they need to make a good impression before people go to the polls.

However, there’s another problem that has the attention of everyone in this country, far more important than the woes of Washington. And it has stirred a great sense of fear sweeping across the country.

That’s right. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Everyone is worried if Phil Robertson will be returning to “Duck Dynasty.”

OK, I’m kidding and actually I don’t care. And many others don’t. Or shouldn’t. But for some reason, that TV reality series has captured a lot of viewers.

I’ll admit I’ve never seen it. And I probably never will because reality shows hold no attraction for me. But I’ve seen all the hype and photos of those guys who appear to be “ZZ Top Gone Redneck.”

In case you haven’t followed the story, Phil Robertson is the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family.

Phil was suspended from the show after he reportedly told a magazine reporter that gays are sinners and African-Americans were happy under Jim Crow laws.

The family claims that he was just following what is taught in the Bible and that he has a right to free speech.

OK. How many times have we heard that line about free speech? Paula Deen had a right to free speech also. In fact, everyone in this country has a right to free speech.

However, there are repercussions to everything you say. Or in the case of people like me – what we write.

And when a TV show relies on advertising, and advertisers drop their sponsorship out of fear of that people won’t buy their products if they support bigotry, then free speech is pretty costly.

This is an age of political correctness. Is it way over the top? Yes, it probably is. People are afraid to say anything anymore.

It will be interesting to see if Phil is allowed to return to “Duck Dynasty.” A lot of people – people who probably think like he does – are pushing to get him back on TV.

And if he does get his job back, maybe the family can hire Paula Deen to cook for them on the show. But it’s doubtful either will be back on the tube.

Yes, free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution. Regardless, you can’t duck bigotry.



The Herald’s Lynn Saternow writes this column each Saturday for the Opinion Page. He can be reached at lsaternow@sharonherald.com.