Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chick-Fil-A: Rights and Choices

Alas, business crashes with culture once more! I know I'm late on this subject......but f&*k you.

A particular issue concerning an American business has come up that presented an interesting mixup of people’s rights and choices, both of which end up indicating that even the simplest decisions in your life are inescapably political. Nifty bit of an addition to your perspective.

The business (and issue) in question is Chick-Fil-A, a more-than-50-year-old American fast food chain founded by Samuel Truett Cathy, a Southern Baptist World War II veteran who found out how to fry chicken as fast as McDonald’s fries their hamburgers.

He started his business serving turbo-fried chicken next door to a Ford plant, the workers of which he served all the time. As his success grew, so did his family, starting in 1953 with Dan Cathy and then with two other children who aren’t important. Dan took over running the business in 2001, and Chick-Fil-A continued to offer variations of chicken platters and breakfasts at moderately low prices. Stores have opened up in a bunch of new places. And now Dan’s 2 sons, Andrew and Ross, work at Chick-Fil-A as well. It’s a family-owned business, whose policy is that they treat every person, regardless of gender, religion, age, race or sexual orientation, equally. Yes, sexual orientation……which is interesting because, while they’ve written into the employee handbook that they give a solid smile and “thank you for buying at Chick-Fil-A” to their gay customers, they’ve been funding political groups that work to end homosexuality with the profits from their Chicken Biscuits.

As far back as January 2011, during the battle for Proposition 9 in California, it’s come out that Chick-Fil-A has been giving money to WinShape Foundation, a charitable organization made by S. Truett Cathy and run by his family…which is ok. However, WinShape has been giving millions to political organizations like Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family and even the Eagle Forum, who is working on having gays be legally considered criminals.

Why? This is Dan Cathy’s frame of thinking:

“There's some essential, emotional DNA that God intended for us to get from a Mother and a Dad, that were [observed/served(?)] over life as children, it's implicit in growing up, that we can only get from our Dad, we can only get from our Mother and we're to get it in a whole, dynamic environment where they're interrelating together to build the stability and the self-esteem that God wants us to have to get through our teenage years. Now when we don't have one side or the other, you know, I just have to tell ya, I think we're, you, we're just emotionally handicapped. It doesn't mean we can't survive and have a happy life but it means that we, we're gonna have, you know, some odds stacked against us. And hopefully there could be somebody that intervenes, to help make that up for us.”

After this, he says a few sentences about how he wants to play the parent of his employees, and them not being from a household with a mother and father makes this difficult for him. And then he said the quote most famously floated around the internets in pertinence to this controversy:

"I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about,"

Alright…..

So, then…this is a fight against gay parents who will end up raising “emotionally handicapped” children that will be hard to hire at Chick-Fil-A due to the difficulty for Truett to be their make-pretend parent, although he holds out the hope that someone intervenes in this hypothetical child’s non-whole, non-dynamic environment.

Very good, Mr. Truett, very good.

Now, while I’ll agree that his beliefs are older than World War I and the LGBT community’s struggle is made this much harder by Chick-Fil-A supporting a bunch of narrow-minded social tyrants, the company and the founders are not without their rights to do these things. Which means that Chick-Fil-A is not the battleground for this issue. Others didn’t seem to think so, though.

Since this revelation of personal belief, both enormous support for and rebellion against the store has swollen up amongst ranks of all kinds, both of which I found to be kind of lopsided and stupid.

Starting from January of 2011, various colleges such as Indiana University and Northeastern University, and have signed petitions and submitted them to the Student Government saying that they did not want a Chick-Fil-A store on their campus. Now, this, I am completely ok with. The resistance was brought about democratically by the people who are paying to get an education and spend serious studying time at those institutions. Their money IS that school, so I think they can have a say as to whether Chick-Fil-A is setup there or not. However…..

In support, former governor of Arkansas and conservative politician Mike Huckabee began to build the concept of a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day movement, and on August 1st, 2012, tons of people showed up at various locations of the chain and bought up a bunch of fried chicken. People in line at the drive-thrus would buy food for the people behind them. People were eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All on account of Mike fucking Huckabee. I think someone should look into Huckabee’s bank accounts. He had to be promised some sort of payoff for inspiring people to buy up chicken by the mass amount from a man who is already the 799th richest person in world (799 is a large number, but keep in mind, that’s out of 7,000,000,000 people on this planet). It’s clearly evident by the anti-gay donations that financial support was never S. Truett or Dan Cathy’s problem, yet the conservative logic was to a give a spectacularly rich person even more money for expressing his opinion.

In rebellion, the gay community has setup August 3rd as a day to show up to Chick-Fil-A locations and have a “kiss off” in front of the chains. But this is just them forcing their beliefs on the store, and that is not the kind of image that the gay community needs right now.

Three different mayors, which includes Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former White House Chief of Staff to Obama, have all announced that they will block any attempt by Chick-Fil-A to open their business in the mayors’ respective states, as Chick-Fil-A’s values do not reflect the values of those cities. I can definitely understand the drive to do that, but they cannot block a store’s receipt of a business permit because they do not agree with the store owner’s personal beliefs.

It was also reported that The Jim Henson Company, who are responsible for “The Muppets”, had a business partnership with Chick-Fil-A but then bowed out and donated money to G.L.A.A.D., an organization for the gay community. They were free to do this and I applaud them for it.

In response to the Mayors’ statements, The ACLU is pro-actively going to bat for Chick-Fil-A, because their thought is that if a government can stop a business from opening because of their anti-gay statements, they then have grounds to stop a business from running because of their pro-gay statements. I can understand this…but…I don’t know. Seeing the headlines “ACLU supports Chick-Fil-A’s right” doesn’t show me the indignation for the anti-gay funding, and it in turns makes me not want to be associated with what they’re about. Besides, I’m absolutely positive Chick-Fil-A doesn’t require the ACLU’s help.

A New York Times Article said: For many, it comes down to this: Eating at Chick-fil-A supports heterosexual marriage and religious freedom. Refusing to eat there supports same-sex marriage and equality. I find the rhetoric of the dilemma to actually be somewhat the opposite.

Eating there supports anti-gay legislation and bigotry. Refusing to eat there means you can just get a chicken sandwich somewhere else. This is simply about choice, not Chick-Fil-A’s rights or gay rights.

I could see if they were actively pursuing to ruin the daily lives of the LGBT community on the local level, throwing chicken sandwiches at customers and allowing employees to piss in the soda cups or something. Immediate action would then have to be taken. But they did say that, regardless of a person’s preferences or history, they treat every customer with respect.

I don’t think this is the sort of thing that deserves protest…..on either side. I don’t think gays going to Chick-Fil-As to make out is a good idea, and at the same time, conservative Christians families showing up to eat Cathy’s pressure-fryer cooked chicken sandwiches (especially on the advice of Mike dumb-ass Huckabee) is just stupidity beyond regular stupid.

Energy and work should be put towards ensuring that gays can marry just like everyone else, and that is fought for at the local and national political courts, where the organizations supported by Chick-Fil-A show up.

Some restaurant chain owned by an 8,000 year-old man with a family that has social ideas older than the first dinosaur isn’t the battlefield for this. Gays and gay-community supporters should ensure that they don’t eat there anymore (I personally think no one should, but whatever). I’m sure there are plenty of restaurants that will provide you with delicious chicken sandwiches without the anti-gay consequences.

2 comments:

  1. OK so my first reaction is that we don't have Chick fill-a over here, so its relatively easy for me to avoid eating there - we do have a pub over here well known for its dodgy door policy, IE they seem to exclude people on a whim - something that got them in trouble when four army officers, dressed in uniform and on the way to the funeral of a friend who died in action, were refused a cup of coffee on no grounds whatsoever

    But back to the issue of donations and this particular instance, which both appals and fails to surprise me. Let's not forget that not so long ago a certain clown-fronted burger outlet was allegedly well known for its funding of the Irish Republican Army (and therefore its terrorist activities)

    But still - how any company can afford to alienate a sizeable part of its potential customer base is beyond me and really, are we still using the bible to put down anyone we don't like? You can prove pretty much anything you want to if quoted so as to suit your own prejudices

    We all have the option to avoid places and brands with bad politics and i guess maybe in the long term doing so is the only way to show them how we feel

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  2. Such is the power of media (the mechanism, not the institution). Issues become broader then they should be ... messages get mixed up ... people get on the bandwagon ... without knowing the real history or *thinking* about what it should mean. I didn't know the history but enjoyed hearing about it ... must be interesting times down there with the election and all! (Honestly, the conventions are leading stories even here in Canada).

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