My goodness, culture wars do break out in the strangest places, don’t they? Now I can’t even go have a chicken sandwich for lunch without deciding where I stand on gay marriage. I have Mike Huckabee on one side telling me I should definitely patronize Chick-fil-A because they stand for all that is good and righteous and Kermit the Frog on the other side telling me that the secret ingredient in their chicken sandwiches is intolerance. It’s really a lot more drama than I care to deal with when I’m hungry.
In case you don’t stay abreast (get it?) of the latest developments in the culture wars, allow me to catch you up on the Chick-fil-A gay rights controversy. Back in early 2011 it came to light that Chick-fil-A’s parent company had donated millions of dollar to Christian organizations that actively oppose legalizing gay marriage. A backlash has been slowly building against them ever since, with protests initially starting out on some college campuses and later picking up steam on Facebook and other social media.
Last week, Chick-fil-A head honcho, Dan Cathy (son of the franchise founder Truett Cathy) brought things to a boil when he was quoted in the Baptist Press as saying that his company was “guilty as charged” of being supportive of the “Biblical definition of the family unit.” His words were widely (and correctly, I think) interpreted as saying that yes, as an organization, Chick-fil-A supports, both in word and deed, a traditional view of one man-one woman marriage and opposes the legalization of same- sex marriage.
A few people took offense to that, needless to say. Every prominent organization and individual that supports gay rights has sworn to never let a Chick-fil-A sandwich touch their lips again. The Jim Henson Company, which had recently signed a licensing deal with the company, has pledged to end their business relationship with them. And the mayor of Boston has even declared his intention to keep them from opening any new stores in his city.
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Of course, conservative organizations have rallied to support the restaurant chain for upholding traditional Christian family values. Former presidential candidate and current talk show host Mike Huckabee declared Aug. 1 to be “Chick-fil-A Day” and urged all right-thinking Americans to visit their local Chick-fil-A and hang Kermit the Frog in effigy. OK, I made the Kermit part up, but conservatives are pretty riled up.
Most of that is just fine with me. This is America, and if a company wants to donate money to whatever (legal) advocacy groups they want to donate to, I say have at it. And if anyone is offended by said company’s actions, they should certainly boycott, protest, and otherwise let that company know how full of beans they are for advocating whatever they are advocating. Long live freedom of expression.
A few things I don’t like about the situation, though. The mayor of Boston is a complete nincompoop for using his office to try and keep a business from coming to his city because that business advocates a cultural opinion he disagrees with. That’s a gross misuse of his office and Chick-fil-A should probably sue the pants off the city of Boston because of his ridiculous abuse of power.
As for Chick-fil-A, they certainly should feel free to strike a public stance on moral issues if they so desire, but they should be consistent about it. Likely sensing a possible negative impact the controversy might have on their bottom line, they posted a statement on their Facebook page, stating that they intend to “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
I think it’s a little late for that. The time to decide to stay out of the debate was before they donated corporate funds to conservative political action groups and before proudly proclaiming they were “guilty as charged” in supporting a traditional view of marriage. It’s too late to claim neutrality after you’ve already made Kermit cry.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Centerville. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his blog at nscsense.blogspot.com.