Monday, July 30, 2012


First, a little background on the anti-gay Chick-Fil-A backlash. From Wikipedia:

On June 16, while on a syndicated radio talk show, The Ken Coleman Show, Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy made what was seen as an inflammatory statement. Cathy stated: "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'. I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."

On July 2, 2012, the LGBT watchdog group Equality Matters published a report with details of donations given by Chick-fil-A to organizations that are opposed to same-sex marriage, such as the Marriage & Family Foundation and the Family Research Council. Also, on July 2, Biblical Recorder published an interview with Dan Cathy, who was asked about opposition to his company's "support of the traditional family." He replied: "Well, guilty as charged." Cathy continued:

"We are very much supportive of the family - the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. ... We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that," Cathy emphasized. "We intend to stay the course," he said. "We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."

More here.

The controversy appears to be just tearing up my facebook newsfeed right now, and even though I haven't personally posted anything about it, it's damned difficult not to comment when others post.

Like one friend did earlier today:

Stephanie: If you're going to boycott anything, why not boycott child labor? Until you're boycotting all of the companies I've listed below, then let me enjoy my chicken sandwich in peace.
She then goes on to list some fifteen or twenty companies that use child labor. And that's when I waded in, with, of course, a detractor quickly joining in the fun:
Ronald But Stephanie, you've got to choose your battles. I mean, you can't just decide to boycott the entire economy outside the context of something already going on. Otherwise, you're just screwing yourself, and it won't affect anything else. But the movement against Christian Chicken Company is organized, with a lot of support, a lot of visibility, and may very well stand to change for the better, at the very least, public attitudes about gay marriage and business. In contrast, not shopping at Walmart, for instance, simply means paying more for stuff.

Daniel Except, Ronald, that this movement is not going to change things for the better. It's a political absurdity at its best. A company is entitled to spend its money how it sees fit. That's the very basis of free enterprise and the capitalistic society that our country is based off of. People are entitled to their opinions, and that's what Dan Truett expressed: his opinion on what marriage is and should be. Nabisco posted a picture of a rainbow colored Oreo, indicating their support of gay marriage, but you didn't see the media create a big deal out of that, did you? The one-sided leftwing media is generating the negative publicity in an effort to force a man to give up on his convictions. What kind of person would he be if he were unable to stand by his convictions in the face of pressure?

As people who live in a society of free expression of speech and religion, Dan Truett is entitled to his opinion, and I am entitled to eat a chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A if I agree with his opinion just as others are entitled to NOT eat for the opposite. It's what makes this country so great. You can do what you want with your money as an expression of the support you give. But oh wait, isn't that what Chick-Fil-A did by giving money to support traditional marriage, the very thing they are under attack for? So, if you wish to boycott Chick-Fil-A, then you must also recognize their right to support traditional marriage, lest you embrace hypocrisy as well.

Ronald On the contrary, Daniel, it has already changed things for the better. It has kept the gay marriage movement visible. It has identified economic forces which oppose gay marriage. It has involved more people in the movement. It has shown that it's not all about just a guy and his opinion, but how such a guy, when he has a bunch of money, uses that money to amplify his opinion above and beyond guys who don't have a bunch of money. Success is not to be measured simply in black and white change/don't change or persuade/don't persuade terms. Social movements are rarely linear and overnight; this particular manifestation, the battle against Christian Chicken Company, is just one chapter in a series of books. That is, it's about literally changing the American culture, which is happening slowly and incrementally.

So go on eating your Christian Chicken. That's fine. You do not have to participate especially because you disagree. But this is how democracy works. Free speech and economic power versus free speech and economic power. Personally, I'd love to see the economic power part taken out of the picture, but until the SCOTUS reverses Buckley v Valeo, we gotta use the boycott, the only economic power really available to people who aren't rich. That and the labor strike.

Daniel I guess you and I will just have to disagree on what "better" in this scenario is. I don't agree with gay marriage as marriage is a religious sacrament. Governmental laws are about behavioral issues, not theological issues. I don't have an issue with gay civil unions, as this would be a law giving equitable (fair) treatment to people who live together. Marriage, however, is a covenant between God and Man, the joining of a man and a woman, and therefore is in the realm of theology.

But let's be honest here. If the media had never raised cain about Truett's donation, would you or I have known about it? I don't think he was trying to elevate his opinion. But I also think he wasn't willing to back down when asked about his perspective on the matter. This is a respectable trait, even in disreputable people (not implying that Truett is disreputable, fyi).

Also, don't think your inflammatory, and intended to be derogatory, name for Chick-Fil-A is lost on me. It undermines your position, because it indicates that you cannot fight your battles on fair ground but must resort to underhanded tactics such as snide comments. In other words, lose the name calling and stick to the high ground. Smearing mud on your opponents really only serves to get you dirty.

Ronald I totally reject your first paragraph. I mean sure, if you're religious, marriage is a religious sacrament. But if that really was the issue, there'd be no issue. Nobody's telling any church what they can or cannot do. The gay marriage debate is ENTIRELY about marriage as a secular legal institution. That the anti-equality crowd tries to conflagrate the two notions, religious sacrament and secular legal institution, does nothing but purposely confuse an already complicated issue. So you ought to stop doing this. Your church can do anything it wants with marriage; it's totally irrelevant.

Left wing news sources, real ones like AlterNet or the Nation, not to be confused with the so-called "liberal media," brought the Christian Chicken Company position to my attention at least a couple of years ago. So yeah, I already knew about it, and am very glad that it is now getting some mainstream attention. Sure, I respect Chicken Christian Company owner for sticking to his guns, but public image is something with which businesses must concern themselves, and that's just a cost of doing business. Remember the Southern Baptist boycott of Disney for hosting gay days at their theme parks? This is all fair game. So is "buy American" or flack about television shows one thinks is sending out inappropriate messages. That's America; that's democracy; that's freedom.

Finally, you're offended by the phrase "Christian Chicken Company"? Too bad. It's actually quite a light jab given the current political atmosphere. And for that matter, it really is a Christian chicken company. In what universe do you find this to be insulting? You've got to get a thicker skin.
This is particularly enjoyable to me in that it is an issue allowing me to put into play my ideas about how to debate religious ideas within the public discourse. For my money, I'm being just as respectful as I ought to be, no attacking people simply for being religious, no attack of religion itself. Just ideas. That this guy was offended by such a slight rhetorical device intended to remind that this isn't just about some innocent businessman, but rather about a business using its economic power to affect the public debate, is par for the course: fundamentalist Christians insisting that their opponents adhere to an unfair and unreasonable standard because of...God...or something.

Here's another thought on gay marriage more generally, from another facebook discussion thread:
Anyway, marriage, as we understand it today is, in fact, NOT a six thousand year old tradition. Indeed, it is relatively recently, going back to the 19th century, that we start to think of marriage as a romantic proposition between a man and a woman who love each other. Before that, and even to some small extent today, it's all about property: the way to ensure that your wealth is passed on to your rightful heirs, without DNA tests, is to control the sexuality of the woman who is their mother. Thus, marriage, an ancient institution FOR CONTROLLING WOMEN. Women, and their foul, sinful sexually promiscuous ways. Given that marriage as we understand it today is, in fact, not an ancient tradition, and given that its roots are utterly misogynistic, I'd say it's high time to "change the definition."
Okay, 'nuff said. For tonight, anyway.