Aug 022012

Yeah, that’s right. I’m back after a few months of silence to talk about the Chick-Fil-A boycott. Because, you know, bandwagons are fun to jump on.

Seriously, though. I’ve seen a few folks post some things over on Facebook (or, as I like to call it, “The place where I learn shit about people I like that I really wish I didn’t know”) that have kinda gotten under my skin. I’ve also received a very polite and insightful e-mail from my Conservative Vice-Presidential running mate, Craig, that brought up a few interesting points. With all that in mind, I decided that I wanted to put down a few of my thoughts regarding the controversy.

So Why Now?

Chick-Fil-A is well-known as being a Christian, “values” based organization. They aren’t open on Sunday, and they have a pretty long history of supporting charitable organizations that actively campaign against the “homosexual agenda.” In my particular social circle, this is the primary reason why we have actively avoided eating there for years. The only exceptions that I have made, personally, have been when they are giving away free food and when I take my annual visit to Atlanta for Dragon*Con (there is a Chick-Fil-A in the food court next to the host hotels, and those breakfast sandwiches sure are tasty).

But recent events have drawn their corporate culture, and their stance on gay rights, sharply into focus for those of us on the “left.” When asked whether or not Chick-Fil-A supported “traditional” marriage, President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathay responded with “Guilty as charged.” The story went viral, and soon after the Jim Henson company pulled out of a partnership with Chick-Fil-A and donated all of the money that they had received through the deal to GLAAD.

As a result of these two high profile events many people in the gay rights camp have latched on to the Chick-Fil-A bandwagon and used it as a rallying cry to yet again call attention to their cause. This isn’t something “new.” We’re not just now realizing that, tasty sandwiches aside, Chick-Fil-A kinda sucks. It’s just that, at the moment, it’s politically advantageous to draw attention to it yet again.

Ok, so we understand why you don’t like Chick-Fil-A. Why don’t you also boycott [insert mega corporation here]?

Let’s be honest here, shall we folks? The attention span of the average human being, when it comes to political causes, is pretty freaking short. Not only that, but boycotting certain organizations can be, frankly, painful. Let’s take Wal-Mart, for example. Wal-Mart is prime example of the kind of company that a conscientious, liberal minded individual should avoid like the plague. Thing is, Wal-Mart sells really inexpensive crap. There are a whole bunch of people out there that, frankly, can’t afford to shop anywhere else. Boycotting Wal-Mart is hard. It’s hard to avoid them, and it’s hard for some folks to justify spending those extra dollars at a more expensive store.

Boycotting Chick-Fil-A is easy. You don’t need those chicken sandwiches. They aren’t super cheap (in fact, it’s a pretty pricey chain in my opinion), and if you choose to eat elsewhere you’re not putting less food on your kitchen table. Chick-Fil-A is a luxury item.

Because of this fact, getting someone to agree to not eat at Chick-Fil-A is pretty much the equivalent of getting them to share some pointless status update on Facebook. It’s a gesture that doesn’t require them to actually DO anything, but it can actually be quite effective if Chick-Fil-A sees their profits drop.

Do any of us actually think that Chick-Fil-A is going to change their stance? No, of course not. That’s kinda ridiculous, really. They’ve been in business for years and doing quite well with their organizational values, and it’s not likely those are going to be modified due to what is probably going to be a short public relations headache for them.

But it may draw attention to the cause, and it may cause a few people to think about where they spend their money. Also? It has caused at least one independent Chick-Fil-A franchise owner to come out in support of the LGBT community and donate some money to sponsor events in his community.

That’s a big win, as far as I’m concerned.

Well what about Louis Farrakhan? GLAAD hasn’t said anything about the fact that Rahm Emmanuel supports Farrakhan, and Farrakhan is opposed to gay rights.

I’m just gonna cut and paste what I wrote to Craig about this very valid argument. It’s not pretty, and it’s not comfortable, but it’s the truth.

Now as to why they aren’t saying anything about Farrakhan? You know why. You don’t even have to ask me that question. It’s because Farrakhan is an influential figure in the African-American community, and you can’t criticize him without running the risk of alienating his base or coming off as a racist.

Politically uncomfortable, but true. See my comments above about pain points when it comes to protesting.

GLAAD raises a stink about Farrakhan, a democrat possibly gets shit on his face and runs the risk of losing his elected seat in a community with a powerful African-American vote, and a potentially anti-gay rights representative takes his place. Such an act is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Politics are ugly and uncomfortable, and occasionally you’ve got to get shit on you in order to push your agenda. It sucks, but that’s the way our system works right now. Anyone who chooses to believe otherwise, or who thinks that their candidate/party/cause is above this kind of thing, is fooling themselves. You point it out when the other guy does it, but nobody in this business is clean. Nobody.

Well that’s all fine and dandy, but I like Chick-Fil-A and I’m going to eat there if I want to. I don’t care what they support.

Hey, you know what? Good for you. It’s a free country, and you are welcome to spend your dollars anywhere you want to. That’s Capitalism.

But you’re kind of a selfish twat – especially if you claim to support gay rights.

Like I said above, boycotting Chick-Fil-A is pretty easy. Ultimately, in the long run, it isn’t going to change much…but it won’t cause you any pain to eat elsewhere. I’m not trying to make the claim that any other fast food organization is really better (but my whole “don’t eat at chain restaurants” stance is a whole other post), but if you KNOW that the company is giving money to organizations that actively support groups opposed to the very thing you claim to be in favor of because, gosh darnit, those waffle fries are just so good?

Yeah, you’re selfish.

Which is fine, really. That’s your call, and you’re free to make it, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed in you.

It’s hard to take an ideological stance these days when it comes to spending money. I get that. There are a handful of corporations that own the majority of the businesses that fill our stores with product, and keeping track of all of that is pretty much a full-time job. Most of us just don’t have the time for that. But when you’re practically handed the opportunity to put your money where your mouth is and put your dollars elsewhere, how can you pass up that chance?

A brief footnote on the “same sex kiss at Chick-Fil-A” thing.

And now a bit of chastisement for my side of the aisle.

Look, folks. I get your point. Let’s go be gay at Chick-Fil-A to show them how angry we are. Here’s the thing, though. If you go in there and make a scene in front of people who are just trying to quietly enjoy their meals you aren’t doing anything to help the cause. In fact, you’re actually supporting the kind of stereotypes that people have about the gay community. “Oh, look, ” Ma and Pa white picket fence will say, “here come the gays making out in public in front of my kids and causing us to be uncomfortable.” And you know what? I’d say the same thing to a straight couple who decided it was appropriate to make out in a restaurant specifically so that people would see them doing it. It’s just not appropriate, and it’s kinda rude.

BUT…if you decide to do it, remember this….

You do not have a right to go to Chick-Fil-A. They are a private business, and they can ask you to leave if they feel you are disrupting their other guests. If you choose not to do so you can be arrested for trespassing. Period. Now if you choose to go that route more power to you, but I don’t want to hear you whining the next day about how unfair it is. Property owners have rights, and if you opt to make an ideological stance to support your cause you damn well better be prepared to face the legal consequences for doing so.


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  2 Responses to “Chick-Fil-A 101”

  1. Good, compelling argument.

    I think I’ll use it. I agree.

  2. Excellent post as always, Mike. I’m only just now getting around to reading it. 🙂

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