Phil Robertson has a god-given right to quote the Bible. A&E has a free-market given right to suspend the Duck Dynasty patriarch, and so does Cracker Barrel. The restaurant chain has a free market right to stop selling Duck Dynasty merchandise with Papa Phil's face prominently displayed. It then has the right to apologize to its patrons and bring the merchandise back in.
When it comes to rights, no one has the right to question the rights of either the Duck Dynasty patriarch, or A&E, or even Cracker Barrel, but that's where the similarity ends. When it comes to Marketing the differences are stark, at least between A&E and Cracker Barrel.
A&E heeded the bigoted GLAAD, while Cracker Barrel listened to their customers. Marketing ain't about paying heed to bigots, its about keeping your ear close to your consumers. The latter act is why Cracker Barrel got on Twitter and Facebook to apologize (listed below) and tell their consumers they got it wrong with their dropping Duck Dynasty merchandise.
As for A&E, if they have any marketing sense in them, they'll get Phil and the 'intact' Duck Dynasty back to the way it was. My gut tells me they won't. That will them make them lousy marketers, but what's worse is the LGBT bigots will have their way, and another liberty brick that America is made of will fall.
(Cracker Barrel's communiques to its customers via Twitter & Facebook )