It’s Chick-Fil-A Day! Yay! Boo!

Well, everyone else is talking about it, so I might as well jump on the bandwagon.

A lot of people today showed up to support Chick-fil-A. I think that’s cool, they have every right to do so.  I understand that some folks on the other side will be holding a kiss-in on Friday. That’s cool too, as long as no one does anything stupid and/or trespasses if they are told to leave. It is great that people are expressing their opinions with their pocketbooks. Capitalism and free speech in action.

I don’t eat at Chick-fil-A because it is hardly a secret that the company donates money to groups that support discrimination against gay people. I don’t know why people were so surprised when Dan Cathy announced his views.  This is hardly the first time he has said what he thinks about the gay community.

The exception for me and Chick-fil-A is when I am visiting my family in Florida. My nephew and niece love Chick-fil-A for the playground as much as the food, and they don’t really need to worry about such things at their ages.

A First Amendment Issue

Both sides have a point and the right to make it.  Where things went off the rail is when politicians started stating that they would interfere with the ability of Chick-fil-A to open in their cities. It is fine for politicians to say, “we don’t want you here,” and even to encourage people to boycott (or support) the company. It is not ok to use “zoning” to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a branch in his or her city. That is a direct violation of the first amendment and an abuse of power.

If Chick-fil-A discriminated against gay people by refusing employment or service in cities where such behavior is a violation of law, then those cities would be well within their rights to refuse Chick-fil-A the ability to operate. But as far as I know, while the CEO of Chick-fil-A has been very open in his views on homosexuality and puts his money where his views are, Chick-fil-A has no policy of refusing to hire or serve gay people. Quite the contrary.

Not A First Amendment Issue

People arguing that the first amendment is implicated when people speak out against Chick-fil-A fail to understand the first amendment. The first amendment is implicated by government actors, not by individuals. That is why it is unacceptable for the government to interfere with a Chick-fil-A because of its views, but ok for those same people to express their opinions.

People who argue that speaking out against Chick-fil-A is bullying need a history lesson back to when the situation was reversed. In fact, they only need go back as far as threats to boycott JC Penny because of an ad and because it hired Ellen DeGeneres to be its spokesperson. I will say that the noise around such events is certainly louder today than it was 5 or 10 years ago. But that is because of the 24/7 presence of news and social media in our modern world. Also, we just have a tendency not to be very civil with each other. More’s the shame.

So, scream at your tv, yell at Facebook, eat the chicken, don’t eat the chicken, make a fuss, all those things are fine.  Frankly though I find the whole thing a bit over the top since there are a lot more important things to focus on right now. But each to their own. As long as we are not trampling on each others rights or physically harming one another as we express our opinions.

A Different Perspective

Aside from the absurdity, two things strike me about this situation.

First, employees of Chick-fil-A must be going through a rough time. This article from Huffington post offers the perspective of the employees.  I feel for those folks. They aren’t really part of this situation. They are employees who need their jobs in a bad economy. So if you are one of the people who goes to support Chick-fil-A or goes to show your feelings in the other direction, please don’t cause the employees any grief. They don’t need it. They are just doing their jobs.

Second, how times have changed. I think back to when Ellen DeGeneres came out. It was the end of the world, wasn’t it? There were many threats to boycott any company that advertised during Ellen’s show. The station suffered a backlash, and felt it was necessary to add an adult warning. Laura Dern, who played Ellen’s love interest in the “puppy” episode, didn’t work for over a year. And, of course, Ellen’s career went into a steep dive until she played a forgetful fish in Finding Nemo.

Now we find ourselves in a situation where people are outraged because the director of a company supports anti-gay organizations. Who would have thunk it.

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