Claude Hamilton Gresham, Jr. (June 21, 1922 – February 18, 2008), better known as Grits Gresham, was an avid sportsman and naturalist and a first-rate outdoor writer and broadcaster. I have a number of his books in my library collection and his videos on duck and goose hunting. I have a great many books on hunting in my library collection from many different authors, but in my opinion, his book on waterfowl hunting, The Complete Wildfowler, is the finest ever written on the subject. He was from rural South Carolina and highly educated with bachelor of science and master of science degrees, with a specialty in forestry and wildlife management, from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He made his home in Louisiana and is remembered by Robert J. Barham, the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and a former Republican member of the Louisiana State Senate who recalled “as a child, I got to meet him and be around him. He was just so easy to be around. Grits was nothing like the television celebrities of today. People were drawn to him. He made them feel at ease … he made me feel at ease, and I was just a child. … There will never be another like him.” (as cited in Wikipedia)
In all the years I read his books and articles published in hunting and outdoors magazines and viewed his videos I never stopped to wonder whether he was liberal or conservative, what his religious beliefs, if any, were, or his attitudes toward gay people, ethnic and racial minorities. To this day I remain unconcerned. What I knew of him was through the body of work he produced in his lifetime. My impression, bolstered by the comment of Robert J. Barham, was that he, in the vein of Will Rogers, was the sort who “never met a man he didn’t like.” It is possible someone could unearth a quote on these topics that would offend the politically correct in the present, but my response, if this were to happen, would be a big “so what.” I remember him for his contributions to the sport of hunting, hunter education and safety and wildlife conservation. These are all past-times in which I am an enthusiastic participant.
What made me think of Grits Gresham and to write these words is the current brouhaha over another celebrity hunter and manufacturer of Duck Commander duck and goose calls: Phil Robertson. Like Gresham, he is an educated man. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education and education from Louisiana Tech University. He and his family have a successful television program on the A&E channel called Duck Dynasty. Robertson is currently on an indefinite suspension from the program as a result of comments he made in an interview with GQ Magazine in which he discussed his religious beliefs and opinions on homosexuality. He had the following to say on the matter of homosexuality:
Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”—continuing rhetorically, Robertson questioned the appeal of same-sex relationships, particularly amongst men; saying: “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical. (as cited in Wikipedia)
There is nothing in his remarks I have not heard a great many times before and they are as egregious as ever. Indeed he is well within his rights to form and express his own opinions on homosexuality or any other topic. I have no issue with that. He finds himself accused of fomenting hatred against gay people. An organization called GLAAD filed a very public complaint against him on this basis. Personally, I think the worst he can be accused of is having a stunning ignorance on what it means to be gay and for having exercised poor judgement. He should have known, as someone with his degree of celebrity in the entertainment industry, he would be pilloried in the press for making these remarks. That and his continued employment with A&E might be at risk.
I knew very little about Phil Robertson and the television program Duck Dynasty before this brouhaha erupted. I had seen ads for Duck Dynasty but never found the interest to tune in and view an episode. I have amassed quite a collection of duck and goose calls from a variety of manufacturers over the years, but cannot recall if I ever purchased a call from Duck Commander. Given the details of his attitude toward gay people, I am disinclined to buy one, but find myself wondering what other hunters think of the quality of the calls the company manufactures. I wonder, also, if the Robertson family supports hunter education, hunter safety and conservation as Grits Gresham did in his lifetime. If so, I commend them for that. I have no doubt the Robertson family will continue to prosper as their duck and goose call manufacturing business remains a going concern and the Duck Dynasty series is as popular as ever with viewers.
Despite the ongoing controversy over Robertson’s remarks and his suspension from A&E, I think most gay people are too busy getting on with the business of living to worry too much about it. The best thing one can do when confronted with the attitude expressed by Robertson in the GQ interview is to take it in stride, you know, like water off a duck’s back, continue to be true to yourself, live quietly with pride and pursue your own happiness.
Posted by Geoffrey