Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or you are one of the few who don’t have a Facebook account (the horror!), then chances are good you’ve heard about the recent controversy surrounding the nation’s premiere seller of all things chicken.
Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-a founder Truett Cathy, made a statement last week that incited waves of both rage and support. It was a bold move and, as much as people may not like his decision to publicly state his beliefs, it was an inevitable move. For several months I’ve watched, slightly bemused, as people began posting the news on Facebook of the organizations financially supported by Chick-fil-a.
Given the intense scrutiny they were under for the organizations they chose to support, I figured it was only a matter of time before Chick-fil-a was forced to make some kind of statement.
For days now, I’ve watched with a bit of confusion as people left and right, from Facebook posts, to official statements by major companies and public rants by elected officials, have tossed out words such as “tolerance,” “diversity,” and “discrimination.”
“You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against the population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail,” huffed Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors,” stated CEO Lisa Henson.
“I, along with many others, are boycotting chick-fil-a for your bigotry,” someone wrote on Chick-fil-a’s Facebook page.
And my personal favorite from their Facebook page: “Chick-fil-a is anti-gay!”
More than anything, I find the terminology being used here disturbing. What Dan Cathy said is anything but discriminatory. He stated a belief and an opinion, both of which he has every right to uphold. He did not say that anyone who believes different was not welcome to work at his chain or eat at his restaurants. Let’s not diminish the horror that is true discrimination.
Not allowing blacks to share the same bathrooms, sit on public buses, eat in public restaurants and so on…that was discrimination.
The holocaust was discrimination.
History itself is rife with examples of true discrimination.
Supporting an organization financially out of your own earnings is not discrimination. To try and compare the two is absurd. Chick-fil-a has not denied anyone any rights so the words discrimination and bigotry cannot be used in the truest sense of what they mean.
Is Chick-fil-a intolerant for their belief? Well, it seems that depends entirely on where you stand on the issue at hand. There has been little mention in the media of Office Depot’s $1 million pledge of support for Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” foundation, a large supporter of same-sex marriage. No one is breaking down their financial statements on Facebook with battle cries of “Anti-Traditional Marriage!” Or “Office Depot discriminates against heterosexual marriage.”
Chick-fil-a has every right to support who they want to support and fight for what they believe in. Should Mr. Cathy have taken his stance public? That’s hard to say. Again, I’m not sure he had much of a choice, but perhaps it’s wise moving forward to not toe the line of political hot button topics.
On the other side of that token, we have every right as a population to decide what we believe and how strongly we believe it. If you disagree with Chick-fil-a and don’t want to eat there, you have that right. Personally, I cannot imagine a world without waffle fries and the perfect chicken sandwich.
But that’s just me.
We all have the right to support and back those things in which we strongly believe. Not eating at Chick-fil-a may be enough to prove a point, but it’s not going to change anyone’s mind about how they feel and what they believe and, in all honesty, it’s probably not going to hurt Chick-fil-a’s business in the long run.
We can all stand up for what we believe, to be sure, but we can’t sacrifice free speech in the process. Dan Cathy was firmly within his rights to express his beliefs, even if the repercussions were a few less sandwiches sold.
Mayor Menino is firmly outside of his rights to block Chick-fil-a from building in Boston simply because of what they believe and support. If that’s the stance he’s going to take, then chances are he’s going to have to boot a lot of businesses and churches out of his city as well. I wonder if he’s really ready to try and strong arm his way through that battle.
Chick-fil-a is not discriminating against a population of people. Everyone is welcome inside their stores. Everyone can order from the same menu, eat at the same tables, use the same bathrooms, drink the same glorious lemonade and benefit from the same clean environment and excellent service, regardless of race, gender, orientation or religious belief.
It’s not an easy topic to cover and believe me when I say I don’t write these things without a measure of trepidation. I don’t like cyber fights and it is not my intention to start one here. I believe in our rights as individuals to express what we believe freely and to fight for what we think is right and good. Your opinion may differ from mine, but I hope that together we can come to a place of respectful, mutual dialogue and not resort to petty name-calling.
What are your thoughts?
Please be nice. What if I throw in a happy emoticon for good measure? Would that help?
This is the part where I would compliment your hair or your shoes in an effort to let you know I think you’re super cool and don’t want to offend you or hurt your feelings and still want to be your friend and maybe we could go get a chicken sandwich later? Wait…
How ’bout a Starbucks. They’re neutral, right?
Have a nice day!