Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Spectacle: Chick-fil-A Day

As I'm sure almost anyone in this country is well aware, Chick-fil-A is embroiled in a controversy for their anti-gay practices and policies.

In a show of support for the chicken chain, anti-gay advocates declared yesterday "Chick-fil-A" day. If you are anything like me at all, your various social media outlets were probably blowing up with commentary on the issue. (Luckily for me, I think I've FINALLY cleared up my list to the extent that the most virulent anti-gay comments were filtered out.)

One thing I have seen is that the issue is being distorted by the right into being about the first amendment, the idea being that people are just supporting Chick-fil-A's constitutional right to hold anti-gay views. 

Did you catch that? In typical fashion, conservatives are using the Constitution (again) to distract from their bigotry. I saw a picture yesterday which really nicely summarizes this:

[Text reads: So when anti-gay rights organizations boycott and protest JC Penny's (sic), Ellen Degeneress (sic), DC Comics, Electronic Arts, Marvel Comics, The Lifetime Network, Toys R Us, etc they are exercising their freedom of speech. But when gay rights activists boycott Chick-Fil-A they are infringing on the company's freedom of speech?]

Seriously, what the Chick-fil-A supporters seem to be ignoring here is:

1) It is a legitimate right for those of us who support gay marriage and general equality to boycott companies that do not align with our values. And really, it's about time that one such company received this much attention and negative press. 

2) It is also within our constitutional rights to speak out against the anti-gay bigotry at play here and to verbally disagree with people who continue to support Chick-fil-A, either as a strategically anti-gay statement or through passive ignorance.*  

Sadly, too many people are still in favor of hateful practices which discriminate against various individuals who are different from them. For example, yesterday, Chick-fil-A recorded record profits. Such awesome people as the Palins showed up to their neighborhood Chick-fil-A to show solidarity with the chain. 

As I said about the issue on my Facebook: If you're on the same side of an issue as Sarah Palin, rethink your views, bro.

Lastly, I want to end with a call to my fellow progressives on this issue for two points:

A) Not all support of Chick-fil-A is equal. This is something which I think deserves more attention. While I think that it is wrong to continue to mindlessly patronage Chick-fil-A if you support gay rights, there are some people on the left who don't truly have a choice in this matter and it is not productive to demonize them. For example, many people who support gay rights and might be gay themselves, work at Chick-fil-A and maintain that job out of necessity. As I recently saw on my Tumblr newsfeed from Brian Stuart: "This is something some progressives get horribly wrong on the regular. It’s fine to boycott a company. It’s fine to advocate for a boycott. It’s not fine to feel entitled to anyone’s participation."

B) Chick-fil-A is not unique. There are other companies who actively work to support conservative agendas. Sometimes it can feel really overwhelming to try to only support businesses which are aligned with your views.  And it certainly takes at least some level of privilege to do so. (I mean, think for example if you live in an area where your only access to produce is at Wal*Mart and it takes a car and a lot more money to shop at the local farmer's market.) But if you do have the means and ability to "vote with your money" then doing so by only boycotting Chick-fil-A is lazy activism. It's like jumping on the KONY bandwagon--it's a start to greater change, but it's not that meaningful if you don't let the awareness take you to the next level.

I'm sure there is much more to be said about this issue. But honestly, I think we're all already a bit tired of it, aren't we?

*See point A above.

1 comment:

  1. Very good points. One other thing (which you touched on briefly) is there have been some reports of liberal folks harassing Chick-Fil-A employees. That's so uncool, man. Those people are just trying to earn a (probably not very good) paycheck and put food on their own families tables. Don't go making their lives harder over something they had absolutely nothing to do with. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to quit a job every time they find out an employer believes differently than they do.


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