Sunday, July 29, 2012

Grew A Mustache And A Mullet....

It wasn't too long ago that all Chick-fil-A meant to me was a lyric in a Ben Folds Five song.

Recently, however, the chicken chain has become a household word, thanks in large part to recent opinions given by its CEO, Dan Cathy, reaffirming his opposition to gay marriage because of his support of biblical family values.

In the wake of that, the controversy exploded.

All across the social networks, many people vowed to boycott the chain. In counterpoint, many people vowed to increase their support by eating there more frequently. The Jim Henson Company withdrew its toys from the chain. (Which, in turn, led to the franchise to issue a notice saying they were pulling the toys out of concern for customer safety. I guess "not bearing false witness" isn't one of those sacred biblical values.) Politicians like Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino and Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Joe Merino are attempting to block the franchise from expanding in their respective cities.

Admittedly, I don't really have much of a dog in this fight. My marriage falls within Cathy's guidelines. And I can say I'm boycotting Chick-fil-A, but I have to be honest: I was never really going to eat there anyway. Not exactly a big, principled sacrifice there. Saying I'm boycotting Chick-fil-A is like saying I'm boycotting...Pizza Hut. A completely empty gesture.

Nor am I going to judge anyone else who chooses to either boycott or patronize the chicken chain. That's their call to make, not mine.

However, I have a real problem with how how some people are painting Cathy as an oppressed underdog standing up to the tyranny of the political correctness juggernaut. To borrow an analogy from my fellow blogger Thom Wade, it seems that many people, particularly those on the right, seem to have a really hard time properly distinguishing between David and Goliath.

Now, I'll grant that the moves of Menino, Merino, and Emanuel may be inconsistent and overstepping, particularly since Chick-fil-A has no apparent history of worker discrimination in its hiring practices.

But as far as the rest is concerned? Here's the thing about free speech: Sure, you can say what you want without fear of government imprisonment, but that doesn't mean you have the right to suffer no consequences whatsoever. One of those consequences may be increased unpopularity, meaning suffering boycotts or withdrawal of support from individuals or even from companies like Henson.

And while we're talking about freedoms, let's also remember that Cathy, like myself, enjoys the freedom to marry the person he loves, whereas many of his LGBT detractors do not. And that's thanks in no small part to the efforts of some of the pro-family groups he supports and donates to. All of which puts Cathy squarely in the "Goliath" column.

But if you're really looking for an oppressed David to rally behind, might I suggest another name?

How about Tam O'Shaughnessy?

She was the late Sally Ride's domestic partner for 27 years, but she won't be receiving any of Ride's government death or social security benefits. She's not eligible under DOMA, you see.

And that's the larger, more important question we should be asking ourselves: Why, in 2012 America, do LGBT couples still not have equal marriage rights in the first place?


At 9:58 AM , Blogger SallyP said...

I am always slightly bemused by people who demand the right to say any horrible thing that they can say...and then are shocked...SHOCKED, when they discover that OTHER people object to not buying or endorsing a product put out by the first party.

Then they cry about free speech. As you said, you can say anything you like...but be prepared to face the consequences.

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