A&E has First-Amendment right to fire Phil Robertson.
Phil Robertson had a First-Amendment right to give an interview to GQ and a First-Amendment right to answer their questions honestly. GQ had a First-Amendment right to publish the interview. A&E had the First-Amendment right to fire Phil Robertson. And Duck Dynasty viewers have the First-Amendment right to find something better to do with their time than watch TV.
Some might mistakenly think that Phil Robertson’s right to Free Speech was violated by A&E’s punishment of him, but that is a fundamental mistake. A&E’s only hold on Robertson was their voluntary agreement—a mutually beneficial one—to pay him for his appearance on their TV program. Once A&E no longer felt this relationship was to their benefit, they had the right to cancel it (I’m assuming here that there are no contractual disputes on how this was done).
A&E wants to broadcast a message that they won’t tolerate Christian belief—that it is not even socially allowable to hold such opinions—and it is their First-Amendment right to do so.
But this is still a First Amendment issue.
Because A&E isn’t actually exercising a recognized universal right. It is exercising a fictional special privilege. The right to fire a person for violating pro-homosexual speech codes is not matched by the freedom on the other side.
Already the Senate has voted for a bill that allows any homosexual who gets fired to sue for “discrimination.” Powerful Republicans are campaigning for a regime that grants these and other special privileges to homosexuals—privileges that are not only not granted to others, including Christians, but are designed to be used against Christians.
Already a wedding cake maker is fighting a ruling claiming he “must” make a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. The military has tried and will try again to officially designate Evangelicals as a “hate group.” San Antonio, like other cities, wants to ban Christians from public employment or from being permitted to be city contractors.
These are a tiny number of cases that barely begin to expose the agenda to eliminate freedom for Christians and to privilege homosexuals. We see “hate speech” codes used against Christians in Canada. Furthermore, A&E fully represents Ruling Class culture. They aren’t firing Robertson as a private right but as a public example. They are showing the government how they want it to act towards Christian speech.
One can also contemplate how, in post-bailout, fascist America, how big corporations are dependent on the government use of tax payer money to keep them in business. We will increasingly notice a correlation between supporting homosexual orthodoxy and surviving government regulation or getting government aid.
So yes, the fact that A&E gets unquestioned access to the First Amendment does itself raise a First Amendment issue. They have the right, but they don’t have the right more than others.