Listen Up, People: Remember Chick-fil-A Next Time You See Any Bullying
I picked a heck of a week to eat my first (and second) Chick-fil-A. The first was eaten innocently enough: I found a free coupon that expired that same day. Though I am not a huge fan of chicken sandwiches, I am a huge fan of free things.
But by the time I got back home and began munching away, I noticed a stream thick with anti-Chick-fil-A sentiment running through my Twitter feed. Chick-fil-A controversy had re-erupted: an old story about Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, and his donations to and verbal support of organizations advocating for legal marriage between a man and a woman got a fresh coat of ink. People like Billy Graham, Mike Huckabee, and Antoine Dodson (video above) released statements in support of the fast-food chain.
And according to what I read, I had not simply eaten a sandwich. I had made a huge statement: I hated gay people.
Since I do not in fact hate gay people and since I understood why people would be upset with Cathy's words and donations, I wondered if the crispy, pickle-y yumminess of the sandwich was worth it. Boycotts will be boycotts—they rage and tumble and then wear themselves out—but sometimes they do really matter.
But then it all got messier than a pit bull stepping in spilled Chick-fil-A sauce (not that I know). No sooner had my sandwich digested, it seemed, than the controversy became more than boycott or a "kiss-in." It became about free speech and totalitarian aldermen and mayors and Rutgers-esque bully-bloggers. And my libertarian streak got twitchy.
Of Cathy's traditional-marriage stance, Chicago Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno (1st Ward) wrote in the Chicago Tribune, "There are consequences for one's actions, statements and beliefs. Because of this man's ignorance, I will deny Chick-fil-A a permit to open a restaurant in my ward." Moreno actually says, his decision is "me taking a stand." It's a stand that shows Moreno's frightening ignorance of the Constitution.
I'd love to have written this off as another shining example of idiot Illinois politics, but then the mayor of Boston got into the game, writing a letter to Cathy saying, "I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston … There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it." Well, no place for certain types of discrimination, at least.
And I would love for this to have been a purely political problem but after evangelical writer and speaker Jonathan Merritt publicly defended Chick-fil-A, his friend (or, once-friend) Azariah Southworth—a former evangelical, now agnostic—"outed" Merritt as a gay man based on "the importance of living an authentic and honest life."