Wednesday, August 1, 2012

6 Reasons Why Both Sides of the "Chick-fil-A Debate" Are Wrong


August 1, 2012 is "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day," or as many will come to call it, "Holy Crap My Facebook News Feed is Making Lose Faith in Humanity Day." 

You see, a few weeks ago, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy came out and said what everyone pretty much already knew: While their company treated all patrons with first class service and respect, Chick-fil-A held a firm stance against gay marriage.

Now before I begin my arrogant ranting from the middle of the fence about the various reactions to this issue, there is something I need to confess: I used to have a pretty solid position about this. When I first heard of Chick-fil-A's not so subtle beliefs, my outrage inspired me to boldly declare that I would never eat there again...

...until my burning desire for delicious chicken, waffle fries, and exceptional customer service was just too hard to resist. 

                                                                                                                    yellowdoggdesigns                                
It's our pleasure...TO FINALLY BREAK YOU DOWN!


But when this latest storyh it, I decided that enough was enough; my self righteous indignation was in full effect and I was never going to Chick-fil-A again. Fortunately, my good friend Joe pointed something out I had completely missed: I was being incredibly stupid. I had failed to consider multiple others factors about this issue and ended up having the exact same type of ignorant, off the cuff overreaction that I typically enjoy mocking others for.

When I really examined the issue through the media and my Facebook/Twitter feed (along with a healthy serving of critical analysis), it turned out that both sides were about as wrong as you could get.

I'll address/talk down to both sides as the "Angry Left" or the "Religious Right." Let's start with the main point Joe made to me, which began my journey of self discovery...


1. Angry Left: If you boycott every corporation that does something evil, you won't have anywhere left to go.

My last step of righteous indignation was to begin pointing out to all my very pro-business/conservative friends (and quite a few strangers) this story about Chick-fil-A trying to run a small business into the ground for daring to use the phrase "Eat More Kale"...with the word "more" spelled correctly!

That's when my friend Whitney pointed me in the direction of this story about a girl named Lauren McClesky. She started a charity event to raise funds for the Special Olympics; since her last name is "McClesky," she figured she would call it "McFest." McDonalds then brought out the McLawyers due to what they perceived as copyright infringement...or killing the "brand protection birdie" along with the "profits through litigation" birdie with one heartless stone.

But everyone who has ever dared to tried the McRib knows that McDonalds is more than capable of unspeakable evil. Unfortunately, they are far from the only one.

-Many people from my side of the aisle see the infamous Koch Brothers as the owner/operators of the Romney-Bot 2012.

"Lemon...Wet...Good"

What you may not realize is that their company produces a HUGE array of products, at least one of which is most certainly residing in (or structurally supporting) your home. Angel Soft toilet paper, Dixie Paper Products, Stainmaster Carpet, and much more household items fill their product list (and most likely, your grocery cart).

That pales in comparison to the industrial and home building products they make that are probably used in buildings you frequent or call home. Even Lycra (aka spandex) is made by one of their subsidiaries, meaning that nearly every superhero in existence is indirectly financing a Republican candidate for president.

Here's a few more quick hitters so you can just give up your dream of  ever shopping on a moral high ground.

-Walmart: Practices extreme degrees of product censorship, treats their employees like crap, and have tried to make money off of their dead employees. They also help financially support organizations that aggressively oppose same sex marriage.

-Target: Donated money to an aggressively anti-gay politician, (also) treats their employees like crap, and forbids charities from operating on their premises. One of those charitable organizations that Target turns away is...

-The Salvation Army: Has a firmly anti-gay stance. One of their officials was recently quoted as saying that homosexuals should be put to death. The organization quickly apologized; they only want gay people to not have the same rights as everyone else. Endorsing murder was way over the line.

-Home Depot: Told its employees to purposefully overcharge customers, then attacked anyone that tried to report it.

-Cinemark: The movie chain's CEO donated to a campaign for keeping same sex marriage illegal in the state of California.

-Auto Zone: Refuses to give domestic partner benefits to gay employees.

-Dish Network: Voted down an anti-discrimination proposal to protect its gay employees.

-Apple: Uses sweatshop labor, participates in unethical sales practices, participates in unethical business practices, etc.

-Domino's Pizza: Founder Tom Monaghan regularly donates to anti-gay organizations (and his company makes absolutely terrible pizza).

-Urban Outfitters donated to the campaign of anti-gay presidential candidate Rick Santorum. They also like to steal product designs from independent designers.

-Whole Foods: Tried to start a marketing campaign during Ramadan that was aimed at Muslim customers, but abandoned it (then tried to say that they didn't...but still did) after being attacked by right wing bloggers/pundits.

That last example, by the way, leads us over to my next point:    


2. Religious Right: Don't try to pretend that this is a First Amendment issue for you.

Don't you dare say that you're just supporting Dan Cathy's freedom of speech and religious expression. While there may be some of you who actually do care about the First Amendment working for everyone, I would like to know where you were when:

-One Million Moms started a boycott of JC Penny for hiring openly gay comedian Ellen Degeneres as their spokesperson.

-The American Family Association and One Million Moms tried to pressure Toys R' Us into not carrying Archie Comics due to their depiction of a gay couple getting married.

-The American Family Association called for a boycott of Google for their support of LGBT rights.

-The Family Research Council urged people not to buy Girl Scout cookies due to the organization's acceptance of a transgender member.

-The National Organization for Marriage started a "Dump Starbucks" campaign after the company voiced its support for gay marriage.

-The National Organization for Marriage started a boycott of General Mills for their support of marriage equality in the state of Minnesota.

-The American Family Association started a boycott of Home Depot for supporting LGBT pride parades.

I'll just assume you were so outraged about people who supposedly shared your wholesome, American values trying to stifle free speech and tolerance that you couldn't find the words to speak up...


                                                                                          sodahead


...or maybe you could man/woman up and admit that this is not about "free speech" for you at all. In fact, if you're really willing to get introspective/honest, I'm willing to bet there's a decent number of you that would be perfectly okay with the United States being a theocracy (as long as it was based on your idea of Christianity).

Don't try to hide behind the guise of being a champion of free speech; that's not what this is about and you know it. If it is and you've just finally "seen the light," then I look forward to you standing up for the rights of those you disagree with as well. (If Bill O'Reilly can do it, than you can, too).

Let's really just cut to the chase here: If a fast food chain with an atheist owner said he opposed Christianity, but still treated all customers with the utmost respect...and Christian groups started a boycott against them...would you stand up for their "right to free speech" as well? 

And while we're on the subject of free speech...


3. Angry Left: Try not to forget about that whole "Freedom of Speech" thing, either.

Remember that whole "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy? The one that had people I normally considered to be rational screaming that a Muslim community center (which contained a Mosque) should not be built near Ground Zero of the World Trade Center attack...even though it would be further away than a strip club...and the land was legally owned/properly zoned...AND there was actually a mosque inside the World Trade Center before it was destroyed?

Remember how sad it was to see people that prided themselves on being "real Americans" protest and fight to keep others from practicing their religion based on a sickening combination of ignorance, fear, and intolerance?

Well, if you're one of the people who cheered on the mayor of Boston (or the Chicago alderman) for illegally attempting to block Chick-fil-A from opening, you're almost as bad. In what possible alternate reality do you believe a private business should be prohibited from opening in commercially zoned real estate that they legally purchased and obtained permits for?  

While I'm sure many of you are screaming at your computers that it's not the same because Chick-fil-A practices "hate speech," you are once again incorrect. As disgusting as Mr. Cathy sentiments may be, I challenge any of you to find one incident of Chick-fil-A discriminating against a gay or transgender customer. (Spoiler Alert: You won't).

Just like my belief that Kentucky football may one day compete for an SEC Championship, Dan Cathy is allowed to have whatever wacky/stupid personal beliefs he wants. His company, AN AMERICAN COMPANY, has a right to let the free market decide if he should have kept his mouth shut...not an Orwellian dictate. Your beliefs are no longer righteous when you sacrifice other principles to enforce them.

Speaking of righteousness... 


4. Religious Right: Make sure your self righteousness is covering all the bases.

I was amazed to see people on my Facebook/Twitter feeds that are known binge drinkers, sleep around (but only with members of the opposite sex, of course), and who curse like sailors, but are now proclaiming to take a stand for all that is good and holy by eating at Chick-fil-A.  

While their milkshakes may come incredibly close to constituting a religious experience, I'm a little confused as to how eating at Chick-fil-A takes priority over improving one's own behavior when it comes to setting a Christ-like example for others to follow.


                                                                                   crabbygolightly
Step 1: Eat at Chick-fil-A
Step 2: Find salvation
Step 3: Make it rain.


I'm also curious why the supporting of Chick-fil-A's stance against gay mar...I'm sorry, "free speech," has seemed to take precedence over much more pressing matters in people's lives, such as:

-Giving away all your wealth. Seriously, why haven't you thrown away that Ipad/sports car/big screen television, kept only what you need to live modestly, and dedicated your life to the Lord.

Luke 12:33 says that we should sell all of our possessions and give to the poor, but I haven't seen a huge push for that like I've seen for the call to eat at Chick-fil-A on August 1. In fact, every time the Democrats bring up raising taxes on the rich or providing medicine for those that can't afford it, the Chick-fil-A crowd begins wailing and gnashing their teeth.

I'll just go ahead and assume that you're doing that because YOU want to be the one to distribute your wealth, not the government. You've got much better plans for it than they ever would...starting with one of those delicious peach milkshakes.

Let's go ahead and stay on the subject of misdirected priorities for a second... 


5. Angry Left: If you're going to follow the money, follow all of it...and pick better targets.

So let's go back to point #1 about all the evil corporations out there. It doesn't matter who it is, someone will have ties to an organization that you don't like. So is Chick-fil-A and their primary charity, the WinShape Foundation, really where the fight for gay rights should be focused?

The same Winshape foundation that spends millions of dollars on scholarship opportunities and foster care for disadvantaged children? Is a company that supports a program to build houses for the homeless really the best place to declare a public relations war?

There are plenty of terrible groups (like the ones mentioned in points #1 and #2) that are actively trying to oppress the LGBT community. All the uprising against Chick-fil-A has done is galvanize the people who support that behavior.

Did you ever stop to think why the boycott of Rush Limbaugh has continued to work so well while the one against Chick-fil-A seems to be having the opposite effect? It's because Rush's primary product was hate speech; Chick-fil-A's primary concern was and continues to be excellent food and service (that also continues NOT to discriminate against any customers).

It's fine (and admirable, in my opinion) to avoid giving Chick-fil-A your business, but they make a counter productive (and strategically stupid) rallying point in the fight against LGBT discrimination. Pick and choose better targets.

And finally, let's close with a little "picking and choosing" on the other side of the debate, shall we?


6. Religious Right: Make sure your righteous indignation actually makes sense. 

Any Christian who is anti-gay marriage has heard the old "God Hates Shrimp" argument.

The book of Leviticus, where homosexuality is discussed/rebuked (18:22), also strictly forbids the consumption of shellfish (11:12) and wearing clothes made from different cloths (19:19). There are more weird rules in there, but I like to stick with those two for the sake of simplicity.

There's also the small detail that Jesus never actually discusses homosexuality in the Bible; I was very curious how many Chick-fil-A supporters were aware of this. When I asked people why they pick and choose which parts of the Leviticus they follow, they often claimed that the eating and clothing habits of Orthodox Jews can be ignored, but that whole thing about homosexuality still sticks.

When I asked where in the Bible that Jesus discusses homosexuality, I am often (sadly) referred to the Old Testament verse in Leviticus that we just discussed.




Fortunately, I have spoken with some people that were well read enough to bring up that although Jesus Himself doesn't discuss homosexuality, Paul does bring it up in the New Testament as being a sin in Corinthians 6:9. I'm guessing that many of the folks from Point #4 tend to gloss over all the other sins mentioned (like the being a drunkard or being sexually promiscuous), but I'm still not sure how that one Bible verse justifies denying an entire group of people equal marriage rights.

I'm also very confused about Dan Cathy's "biblical definition of marriage." Maybe he and I have different Bibles, but my version has some pretty wild stuff:

-Abraham (who is one of the main patriarchs of the modern human race) and his wife Sarai couldn't get pregnant, so she suggested that Abe give it a try with their female slave, Hagar. He also later took another wife named Keturah.

-David was the King of the Jewish people...and was also pretty scary. He and his army killed 200 Philistines, harvested their foreskins, and brought them back to Saul. In exchange for these "trophies", Saul gave David his daughter, Michal, to take as his wife. He later took 7 other women as his wife, as well. There actually may have been even more women betrothed to David, but they didn't make it into the credits.

-Speaking of Saul, he only had one wife, but he also kept a concubine on the side.

Rick Beckman has many more examples of Biblical weirdness you can read here, but I'll save you some time: There was a lot of pologamy, and there was a lot of slavery/concubinage

Do the people that constantly refer to the "Biblical definition of marriage" even read the source material? And before any of you scholars shout "OLD TESTAMENT, DOESN'T COUNT!" and try to cite 1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:12, or Titus 1:6, please explain to me the Parable of Ten Virgins, which is also found in the New Testament.

At this point, I'd like to take a minute to speak with my fellow Christians and/or any readers that are curiously agnostic. If you are an atheist and see my unabashed, life enriching, and yet admittedly hard to explain beliefs as a psychological disorder/waste of time, please feel free to skip down to the last part of the article (it's after the video embed).  

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So we all know being a Christian is pretty tough, especially the whole "living a Christ-like life" part. But do you remember the part of Jesus' story when he died for our sins and told his disciples he would return?



While the pretend disciples in that picture anxiously waited for white Anglo Saxon Jesus to come back, the real disciples were blessed with the return of our real Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. That ultimate sacrifice and resurrection was for all of us because we're all sinners, washed in the blood of the lamb. It did not come with a mandate or decree to be able judge others. That might be difficult when it comes to the Aurora shooter, but it shouldn't be when it comes to giving people the same rights and treatment as everyone else.

The other part of Jesus' story that I find fascinating/inspiring is that He spent a large portion of His time with the people that the church had shunned and/or disavowed. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that a few of those folks that He showed unconditional love to were gay.

But strangely, that message seems to be lost. The Onion hit the nail on the head with their satirical article entitled I'm Not One of Those 'Love Thy Neighbor' Christians.

And don't you dare say that you still "love" all people (including those homosexual types), but just don't agree with them...when "don't agree with them" equals denying the same rights that you enjoy as a United States citizen. Telling someone you "love" them and then turning around and supporting their status as a second class citizen is bigoted, insulting, and wrong.

Another thing Jesus did a lot was explain to the church what colossal, arrogant jerks they were; it's funny how history seems to be repeating itself. I'm convinced that when Moses dropped those 5 commandments in 'History of the World: Part 1', one of the lost decrees was:


Though Shalt Always Be Self Aware and Have a Sense of Irony

Just for good measure, I'll end this portion with a great speech by a president that I would vote for in a heartbeat over either candidate, Josiah Barlett (played by Martin Sheen) of 'The West Wing.'




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Okay Mr. Smarty Pants, so what are you going to do? Will you still eat at Chick-fil-A?


I have a somewhat terrible analogy that I'll use to explain my position going forward; it involves my mother's reluctance to eat at another fast food restaurant. It wasn't because the company's president spoke out against her beliefs or donated money to a cause she didn't agree with; it's because she saw the woman who was preparing the food picking her nose.

Not only that, but she saw that same woman pull out a giant booger, look at it, and then start putting her hands all over everything. It grossed her out so much that even though it happened over 20 years ago, she cannot eat there to this day.

Of course my mother is aware that the boogerfied batch of food she watched being defiled has long since cycled through the restaurant chain. She also knows that it's probably happened at other places and that she shouldn't punish this particular chain for the actions of one employee (who most likely doesn't work there anymore).

When I drive by Chick-fil-A (which is very close to my house), I'm disgusted by what I see. I know that they're not the only company that shares beliefs I strongly disagree with (and actively helps promote them), but Dan Cathy finally managed to do the impossible; he made their delicious chicken just not worth the trip for me anymore.

I'm not taking a righteous stand as much as I'm voting with my wallet. His ignorant/poorly researched opinion (and his willingness to publicly declare it) are like a giant, snot ridden booger on the entire franchise. Maybe one day that feeling will wear off. But for now, I am firm in my commitment...not making a statement or trying to change the world with my lunch time meal choice, but simply not eating at Chick-fil-A anymore.

                                                                                getreligion.org
...and my resolve will be at its strongest on Sundays





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