Lots of commentary on Chick-fil-A from all over the country.
Here are some of the opinions and points being made:
1) Bringing politics into unrelated business is not a good idea
Fred Clark writes “The Chik-fil-A Flustercluck” in Patheos’ Slacktivist:
This latest corporate flustercluck is mostly following the standard script for what happens when a business decides to fire off a volley in the culture wars on a matter wholly unrelated to its actual business.
Smart businesses don’t do this. When you politicize and polarize your non-political product, you reduce the overall pool of potential customers….
Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy seems to subscribe to a marketing plan modeled on the sort of political campaign that thinks it’s more important to “fire up the base” than to try to win over swing-voters and independents. He’s banking on the idea that by telling LGBT customers to take a hike, he’ll see an increase in the enthusiasm of the anti-gay teavangelical Chik-fil-A fans who currently provide a big chunk of his company’s revenue.
That’s possible, in the short run. But in the long run it seems self-destructive. Enthusiasm wanes, but customers can carry a grudge forever — particularly when it’s a deeply felt and completely legitimate grudge.
So again, this seems to be following the standard script. Chik-fil-A will take a short-term PR hit which will eventually fade somewhat, but millions of customers will be reluctant to eat there ever again as Chik-fil-A comes to occupy in their minds the same space as Domino’s pizza or Brawny paper towels — a right-wing company that has declared itself an enemy of their interests, their families and their freedoms.
2) Banning Chick-fil-A is unconstitutional…and dangerous.
Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel, Boston’s Thomas Menino and a handful of other mayors threatening to ban Chick-fil-A because of anti-gay marriage remarks made by its president, Dan Cathy….Such a position may sound noble. It may be coming from a good place in the officials’ hearts. But thankfully it is unconstitutional.
The last thing anyone, liberal or conservative, should want is local government censoring what a private citizen can say by way of withholding permits and licenses. With the exception of a few examples, such as falsely yelling fire in a crowded space, freedom of speech isn’t contingent upon what a person says.
So members of the Ku Klux Klan can legally rally and spew hate about black people. Westboro Baptist Church can protest and say terrible things about a soldier during his funeral. And Cathy can say whatever he wants about gay people.
That’s the U.S. Constitution at work.
3) The call to boycott is a fair thing to do.
From Michael Hilzik’s “Chick-fil-A gets a lesson on corporate outspokenness” in the LA Times:
Despite what Cathy’s supporters might claim, public boycotts aren’t infringements on his free speech. With a handful of modern exceptions — the grape boycott against anti-union California growers in the 1960s and the disinvestment campaign against South African apartheid in the 1980s — boycotts today are informational tools. No one publicizing Cathy’s views has the power or authority to keep anyone out of his stores, but they do have the ability to help patrons walking up to his counters to know where their money is going.
4) Calls to boycott without specific goals and boundaries can be problematic
Rachel Held Evans writes in “Some words for Christians on both sides of the Chick-fil-A war“:
Having grown up in the evangelical subculture where boycott is something of a sport, take it from me: boycotts often backfire. Already Mike Huckabee has called conservative Christians to flood Chick-fil-A with their business, and I see many of my friends and neighbors responding enthusiastically. Remember how you responded to the boycott against JC Penny over Ellen? (For me it was a super-cute floral top.) Well, the same thing is likely to happen in this case. Again, what concerns me the most in all of this is the drawing of unmovable lines between the Christian community and the LGBT community when these lines need not exist. As Christians, we should be working tirelessly to find common ground instead of drawing battle lines.
5) And yet, behind the calls for a boycott is real hurt
Conor Gaughan writes “We are not arguing over Chicken” in the Huffingtonpost:
Growing up is never easy. But, teenagers who grow up gay are four times more likely to take their own lives. No, that has nothing to do with our sexuality on its own — suicide rates are lower where gay kids are accepted. It’s because our institutions, and all too often the adults in our lives, tell us we’re not as good as our straight peers. In 29 states, it is legal for an employer to fire me for who I am. In 31 states, leaders and voters have told me that I am not worthy of the fundamental human right to marry. You want to marry because you love your Mr. Right; I have no rights to do the same. And, the consequences of this inequality are terrifying and real. For example, I can be denied access to my loved one on his deathbed. There are over 1,100 other rights that I am denied.
When gays get so angry about a chicken sandwich, it is because Chick-fil-A has given around $5 million to fight to discriminate against us. When we praise brave Eagle Scouts who give up their badges in protest of the Boy Scouts of America’s prejudice, it’s not about scoring political points; it’s because there are kids in dens who are being taught to believe that they are less than equal. When we rant about the pastor who preaches that gays should be thrown into a concentration camp, we scream out of fear. And our fears are justified — in the last seven days, a lesbian in Nebraska was carved with a knife, a gay man in Oklahoma was firebombed, and a girl in Kentucky was kicked and beaten — her jaw broken and her teeth knocked out — while her assailants allegedly hurled anti-gay slurs at her.
I am your coworker, your frat brother, your cousin, your neighbor. And I am watching as you defend institutionalized discrimination.