- (Photo: Cross Map via Christian Post)
A Veterans' Affairs store in Albuquerque, N.M., has reportedly agreed to remove some of its "Duck Dynasty" merchandise after one Vietnam veteran complained, citing the recent controversy surrounding the reality show's patriarch Phil Robertson.
Debra Abeyta, assistant chief of Canteen 501, a Veterans Affairs Medical Center store in Albuquerque, reportedly responded last week to the complaints of Vietnam veteran Robert Anderson, who upon shopping at the store recently found that it carried merchandise relating to the hit A&E reality show "Duck Dynasty." Anderson, upset over the recent comments Phil Robertson made regarding homosexuality and African Americans in the January edition of GQ Magazine, wrote to the canteen saying he wanted the merchandise to be removed.
Abeyta told the veteran that the canteen does not reflect the beliefs expressed by Robertson.
"We here at the canteen service in no way promote such ideas and have taken steps to remove the product from the store," Abeyta reportedly told Anderson, according to the ABQ Journal.
Abeyta went on to add and she and others at the canteen service are doing all they can to have the products removed from their shelves, including slashing prices on "Duck Dynasty" merchandise and returning all "Duck Dynasty" DVDs to its distributor for store credit.
The controversy involving Phil Robertson began in mid-December, when he told GQ Magazine that he believes homosexuality is a sin just as idolatry, drunkenness, and bestiality are also sins. Robertson also said that during his time growing up in the South before the civil rights movement, he never heard African Americans complain about their living situation, saying they were "godly and happy."
Robertson's comments gained a widespread amount of criticism from those who called him homophobic and racist, and the family patriarch was temporarily suspended from his reality show by the A&E network following the immense public backlash. Ultimately, however, Robertson was reinstated to the show, which has proven to be a major ratings booster for the network.
Although Robertson received a lot of criticism, he also received support from those arguing he had the constitutional right to express his beliefs.
The Robertson family and the "Duck Dynasty" brand also suffered little backlash from the controversy. The restaurant chain Cracker Barrel temporarily pulled Duck Dynasty merchandise from its shelves, only to return it shortly later following social media backlash. It issued an apology to its customers.
Additionally, sales for books written by "Duck Dynasty" family members soared in light of the controversy, with Robertson's autobiography Happy Happy Happy jumping up ten spots on USA Today's weekly bestseller list in December.
Other retail carriers of "Duck Dynasty" products, including WalMart, Target, and Under Armour, remained relatively quiet as the short-lived Robertson controversy played out.
Additionally, as EMag.com points out, advertising companies with commercial spots on the A&E reality show did not pull out following the controversy. One ad buyer told the magazine that advertisers would have perhaps been more inclined to remove their commercial spot from the show if Robertson had made his comments on an episode of "Duck Dynasty," rather than to GQ Magazine. "Across our client base, it didn't really reach the level of a reason to remove advertising – at least, not yet."
A&E's "Duck Dynasty," which follows the duck-hunting Robertson family in their quirky adventures in West Monroe, La., will begin airing its next season on Jan. 15, and filming for more episodes will re-start in spring 2014.