Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Day


I was trying to avoid writing about this but it is all I have heard about for the past week so here goes….

First of all, how was anyone caught off guard when the current CEO of a company, founded by a Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher, was not a big proponent of gay marriage? This is about as earth shattering as discovering that the staff of my local Olive Garden has never actually been to Italy. You have my permission to be shocked if Chick Fil A announces it will issue a copy of Penthouse and a spliff with every kid’s meal, otherwise please save your astonishment for a newsworthy development.

Secondly, Chick Fil A is a privately held corporation and if the CEO wishes to state his personal views he has every right to do so. Chick Fil A can even refuse to hire or even serve gay people as sexual orientation is not a protected class under the Federal Civil Rights Act. States can, and have, passed additional legislation to supplement the Federal statute and extend coverage to other groups. For instance, California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act prevents discrimination based on medical conditions, marital status, or sexual orientation.
Regardless, it is unfair to label the company, its employees, or its customer base as ignorant or homophobic simply because they do not support gay marriage. People may have views different from your own and sometimes those people become successful entrepreneurs who open chicken franchises. Cathy is an astute businessman and he was not exactly alienating his core demographic by espousing conservative views. Furthermore, he runs a good company that treats its employees and customers well.

Conversely, those whose personal views happen to align with CEO Cathy’s are attempting to transform a poultry delivery system into a symbol of religious martyrdom.  Today Mike Huckabee is hosting a Chick Fil A Appreciation Day where like-minded individuals can show their solidarity by dinning at the franchise. He has even registered www.isupportfreespeech.com as the official URL of the campaign somehow implying that our respect for the first amendment is contingent upon our preference in fast food.   

Perhaps this is a little much, I realize that Cathy’s views drew the ire of many liberals, but I am not sure his company has become the final remaining bastion of Judeo-Christian ethics in America. I am not even convinced he was unveiling a corporate ethos as much as he was sharing his opinion. Let’s all calm down and stop pretending someone has firebombed the choir-loft. 

Huckabee even posted the following explanation:

Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we're considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant .

The implication is that a secular business can support homosexuality with no societal repercussions but Christian businesses are immediately vilified and boycotted if they stand up for Biblical principles. This is a little disingenuous as we all remember the eight year boycott by the Southern Baptist Convention when Disney World refused to prevent homosexuals and their families from dressing in red shirts and attending the park on the first Saturday of June.

Even though Disney World did not, and still doesn’t, recognize “Gay Day” they are certainly not going to refuse 150,000 paying customers just because of what gender they are attracted to. Either way, the Walt Disney Company risked alienating 16 million Southern Baptists by passively allowing homosexuals to purchase tickets the same way Cathy risked alienating all of the hardcore liberals that frequent his establishment.

If anything, “Christian values” is a marketing tool in the Bible Belt. You would be hard pressed to locate a carpet cleaner or plumber that doesn’t feature an ichthys in their yellow page ads so let’s save the religious fortitude award for the guy brave enough to open Mohammed’s Praise-Be-To-Allah wrecker service in rural Mississippi.

Also, I am curious which businesses have specifically issued statements of support for “profanity.” Did I miss an Arby’s press release?

We here at Arby’s would like to remind our customers that cursing is not only tolerated in our franchise, but encouraged. In fact, for each time you use the F-word while ordering a combo meal we will issue you a 10% off coupon for use on a future visit. If this vulgar exchange is overheard by a child or member of the clergy, you will also receive a complimentary milkshake.

I do not have to agree with a CEO’s personal beliefs to become a customer the same way I do not feel the need to canonize Che Guevara to listen to Rage Against The Machine.  I have no idea if my personal beliefs align with those of Jeff Bezos or Larry Page but I still order from Amazon.com and use Google for a search engine because they provide the goods and services I want in a manner that I am pleased with. Ideally, this is the way a capitalistic society should function. The only fast food restaurant I patronize as a result of corporate dogma is Wendy’s, because any corporation with an unwavering commitment to bacon deserves my respect.

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