Son of Phil Robertson avoids addressing his father's suspension during Atlanta charity appearance
As the debate rages on about the fate of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, one of his sons kept mum about the turmoil surrounding his family on Saturday during a long-scheduled appearance at a “Duck Dash” 5K marathon in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, the first fallout from the uproar over Phil Robertson’s comments came at Tennessee-based retailer Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, which pulled some “Duck Dynasty” related merchandise from its shelves Saturday out of concern the items “might offend some of our guests.”
“Duck Dynasty” has become a merchandising juggernaut, with all manner of products related to the show and its colorful bearded characters on store shelves this holiday season. The Louisiana-based family made its fortune by selling duck-hunting products through its Duck Commander business, which has only been enhanced by the platform provided by the TV series.
In Atlanta on Saturday, Jep Robertson (pictured), the youngest son of Phil Robertson, only made oblique reference to the firestorm over the A&E Network series that has set ratings records for the cabler this year.
“We’ve had kind of a crazy week back home,” Jep Robertson told the crowd at Turner Field, according to a report on AccessAtlanta.com. “We’ve gotten a lot of support. We really appreciate it.”
The 5K run was a fundraiser for Shriners Hospitals for Children.
The future of “Duck Dynasty” on A&E has been called into question ever since GQ published an interview with the folksy reality star that included inflammatory comments about homosexuals, among other topics. A&E on Wednesday announced that Phil Robertson would be suspended from filming future episodes of the show. On Thursday, the Robertson clan issued a statement supporting Phil and saying they “cannot imagine” the show going forward without him.
The issue of Phil Robertson’s suspension has become a divisive cause celebre, with conservative groups and numerous Christian orgs condemning A&E’s move, while gay advocacy groups and others decry the intolerance reflected in his remarks.
The decision by Cracker Barrel to pull some products, presumably those with Phil Robertson’s image prominently featured, is a surprise given that most of the chain’s 625 stores are located in prime “Duck Dynasty” demo territory.
The company confirmed the move in a statement posted on its Facebook page. By late afternoon Saturday, the post had drawn more than 2,700 comments, most of them critical of the company’s decision and supportive of Phil Robertson’s right to speak his mind.
“Cracker Barrel’s mission is Pleasing People. We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture,” the statement read.
“We continue to offer Duck Commander products in our stores. We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation. We continually evaluate the products we offer and will continue to do so.”
Cracker Barrel has faced allegations of racial discrimination from employees and customers in the past. In 2006, the company paid $2 million to settle a workplace discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.