First of all, this is not a free speech issue in any sense. The First Amendment guarantees that congress will make no law abridging the freedom of speech. That certainly did not occur in this case, and no law prevented Mr. Robertson from speaking his mind. He does not face any legal repercussions from doing so. However, assuming the contractual language is correct, the A&E network is within its rights to stop doing business with him if they so desire. Believe it or not, your employer can fire you in most cases if you speak out in ways they do not like. Your freedom to speak is guaranteed, but not your job security. Your boss can fire you if you publicly endorse the KKK platform or teachings of the Nazi party.
And in this great land of ours, with its free markets, we can refuse to buy products at any time we wish, for whatever reason. A boycott is not in any way illegal. You could boycott A&E for allowing Mr. Robertson to make his statements or you could boycott them for suspending him.
What we are seeing here is morality by math. A&E knows that the Duck Dynasty program is a huge money-maker with a wide audience. But they also know that speaking out against homosexuality is going to offend a larger number of viewers. So they calculate which is going to do more harm, supporting or suspending, and act accordingly. I have found the Cracker Barrel weather vane more like a windmill. Here is a company that had employment policies in the 1990's that dismissed employees that did not display "normal heterosexual values"; they actively opposed gays and their lifestyle. In this latest brouhaha, they did the math, reversed course, and decided that they would offend paying customers by continuing to carry merchandise with Mr. Robertson's image. So they decided to discontinue those products, hoping to keep their customers as well as burnish their image as tolerant. They were the first corporation after A&E to take such an action. However, when toting up the numbers they discovered that their math added up the wrong way, and after their clientele bombarded them with messages supporting Mr. Robertson they reinstated those image-bearing products. It seems that few things are as effective at determining the correct moral stance as money.
GLAAD, which used to stand for "Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation", but now just stands for "GLAAD", decided that its Biblical expertise and interpretation of the Scriptures enabled it to make the following declaration: "Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe." And: "By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value."
To look at that first statement, a Christian must ask one question: "Is homosexuality a sin?" It is a simple yes or no question. And the Bible is not silent on that issue. In both Old and New Testaments, God tells us generally and specifically that the answer is yes. I could list numerous passages wherein the Bible specifically addresses homosexuality. However, if you decided to discard those, there is the issue of sexual immorality in general. Looking at the Westminster Catechism, we learn in questions 137-9 that the Seventh Commandment, which forbids adultery, also forbids "fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts." The Heidelberg Catechism similarly tells us in questions 108-9, "That all unchastity is cursed by God... he forbids all unchaste acts." In general, if I need to know what God's opinion is on a topic, and what true Christians believe, I would look to the Scriptures before a GLAAD press release.
As far as the second statement, it is important to understand what is meant by discrimination. In one sense of the word, it means simply to recognize and understand the difference between one thing and another. As Christians, we are in all cases to discriminate between good and bad, between things that are sin and not sin, between the things of God and the things of this world. We cannot look to popular culture or even our laws to do this. Although murder and theft are illegal, adultery and dishonoring our parents is not; indeed, our government, its system of transfers, and political electability is now largely based on encouraging one group of people to covet another. The Christian uses his Bible, not popular opinion or statutes, to aid him in discriminating between right and wrong.
In the other sense of the word, discriminate means to take unfavorable action against those with whom we do not favor. The Christian is enjoined not to do so. James tells us in 2:1-13, "My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, 'You sit in here in a good place,' while you say to the poor man, 'You stand over there,' or, 'Sit down at my feet,' have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" Phil Robertson did not discriminate against anyone by treating them unfavorably; he was discriminated against. All he did was speak the truth from the Bible as he knew it.
As Christians, we are not to treat poorly those who hold beliefs differently than our own. However, we are not to passively let the world and popular culture dictate what we believe, either. That same world and culture will oppose us vigorously. The Word of God is no longer popular currency among those whose morality is not shaped by it but who seek to shape it in a form that suits them; rather, the currency that shapes their morality is often of the green paper kind. We are never right to deny what the Word of God instructs us, and we are never wrong to proclaim it.