I’m sorry for adding to the cacophony, but a thought now that it’s died down a bit. I was mostly just bewildered by the sudden brouhaha surrounding Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy’s remarks about gay marriage because the company had already been donating to Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate groups and “ex-gay” organizations since at least 2003. I’m not against a boycott of Chick-fil-A (I’ve refused to eat there for years), but I think energy spent organizing against a conservative fast food chain might be better directed towards campaigning for equal rights supporters in critical elections this November (like this guy, or the soon-to-be first openly gay United States Senator).
However, if the takeaway for businesses from all of this is that actively opposing equal rights for the LGBT community consistently yields PR disasters, that would say a lot about where we are as a country (note that the impact on revenues will likely be minor - Chick-fil-A is privately-owned and massive, and has greater presence in areas where being anti-gay would probably matter less). Recent events should tell us that anti-gay bigotry, even under the banner of Judeo-Christian values, is rapidly becoming an untenable position for public figures. And I welcome that.
A response to common Chick-fil-A apologist arguments after the jump.
As a side note, I’ve seen a lot of people comparing the Chick-fil-A boycott to the anti-gay Oreo “boycott,” saying that the LGBT and ally community is hypocritical to participate in one and criticize the other. I think what we’ve generally seen is that the bad publicity that hits anti-gay businesses and the enormously gay-positive reactions that tend to overwhelm boycotts from the other side has strengthened the cause.
But the main problem with the Oreo boycott comparison, as with invocations of the freedom of speech defense for Chick-fil-A, are that they are fundamental misunderstandings of the opposing argument. Opposing the anti-gay Oreo boycott while supporting the Chick-fil-A boycott is only hypocritical if your objection is the mere concept of a boycott of a business. Rather, criticizing the grounds of one ideological act (an anti-gay rights boycott), while supporting those of the exact opposite ideology (a pro-gay rights boycott), is more than not hypocritical; it is patently logical.
Similarly, with the exception of a couple politicians making empty threats, sensible critics of Dan Cathy’s statements are not objecting to them on the basis that Cathy does not have the right to express them. The objection is that he has cherry-picked certain lines from his religious text that fit with his ideology, while ignoring both context and those portions that differ from his personal views, slapped a label of “traditional family values” on it, and expects all others to obey this interpretation or incur God’s wrath. The reason freedom of speech is such a fundamental tenet of a democracy is because we need an open, public discourse to properly function. Just as Cathy has every right to spout off his medieval understanding of sexuality, marriage, and family, so can those living in the 21st century voice their opposition. To do so is not to oppose the First Amendment. It is to embody it.