Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

The Chick-Fil-A Controversy

with 12 comments

Well, once again I am at odds with some of my progressive friends. Maybe all of them, I don’t know. And this visual distributed by the National Organization for Marriage Equality pushed me over the edge, I just had to post about this controversy. Don’t get me wrong, I think any two consenting adults should be able to get married; as has been demonstrated in court any times, the only objections to gay marriage are religious in nature. This means they aren’t objections, they are bigotry. Theists don’t want to hold gay wedding ceremonies in their church, no problem. They want their religious beliefs mandated by public law, big problem.

Moving right along, this graphic is a wonderful example of tortured logic. How, exactly, does a chicken restaurant offend a community’s sense of morality and fairness? It doesn’t of course, so the comparison to strip clubs and porn shops is both misleading and odious. What people are upset about is that the owners of the Chick-Fil-A chain contribute to causes that many people find offensive. Illegal causes? Well, no. Is the Chick-A-Fil chain illegally discriminating against anyone? Again, well, no. So basically the Chick-A-Fil chain is run by people whose political opinions are unpopular with some. Great, boycott them, picket them, complain about them on line. Heck, why not just don’t let them have a business permit to operate in a city where they aren’t welcome, why shouldn’t the mayors of Chicago and Boston refuse business permits to Chick-Fil-A?

Because it’s illegal, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s wrong. Yes, the owners of Chick-Fil-A give money to causes some people find offensive. They are exercising what the old people call … freedom. It used to be important to progressives, sometimes now I wonder. Yes, in America people are free to express whatever opinion they want, no matter how offensive, and the government is forbidden, by the constitution, from stopping them. It’s in the very first amendment, and there was a reason it is in the first amendment,  because it’s fucking important. Please though, don’t take my word for it, here’s what Susan Bloch, a professor of constitutional law, had to say on the topic: “If they’re complying with laws, but as an institution espousing political beliefs, there’s a constitutional problem with the government withholding benefits from them based on a political stance.” I note though that since this news broke, the mayors of both cities have waffled and backed off some. No doubt because they got an email from their legal staff saying “Um, boss … you can’t really do that.”

Or to look at it from another perspective, if a mayor could deny a business permit based on the political stance of the business owner … business permits could be (and would be) denied routinely over whatever a mayor found objectionable. Mayors could basically decide what businesses could or could not operate in their city. Maybe some people don’t have a problem with that, but I do. And the courts and the ACLU are on my side. Living in a  free country means that there will be people who have opinions that many other people find loathsome. It’s a price of freedom, and one I am happy to pay. Don’t like, it … as I said earlier: boycott Chick-Fil-A, picket them, write letters to the editor. What people can’t do, is use the power of the state to discriminate against them.  Which is at the root of this whole marriage thing to start with, churches using the power of the state to sanction their idea of marriage.

Basically NOMEUSA  thinks it’s OK for the government to do to the owners of Chick-Fil-A what they decry having done to gays. I guess because their cause is “just,” it’s OK? Sadly I’m seeing this sort of attitude more and more coming from the left, the idea that since they are right, anything goes. It’s an attitude that used to be confined to Fundies and the far right, now it seems increasingly common across the board. Or maybe I’m just noticing it more, in either case it scares me. It scares me because throughout history that’s how leaders have manipulated people into following them, and once people are convinced that their side has the moral high ground, they can be convinced to do anything, no matter how heinous.

Am I claiming that gay marriage is heinous? Of course not, I’m decrying the idea that “anything goes” since my side has the moral high ground. It’s not exactly an attitude conducive to debate and compromise. And, frankly, this attitude is why so many progressive Americans are now supporting our imperialistic, violent, and intensely misogynistic foreign policy. That’s for another blog post though.

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” —Voltaire

(The above image is all over Facebook so I’m assuming its been released into the Public Domain. If not, I’m claiming it as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, and the graphic above is the topic of this blog post, let alone being central to it. Credit and copyright, if it exists: NOMEUSA.)

Written by unitedcats

July 30, 2012 at 7:42 am

12 Responses

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  1. Interesting perspective. I was certainly one of those people who reacted positively to the pronouncements by the two mayors, purely because their reaction fit my ideological bent. After reading your post I am definitely re-examining my earlier support. Great post!

    Andrew

    July 30, 2012 at 9:58 am

  2. I’m with you when it comes to free speech and the 1st Amendment. But let’s try on this scenario for size:

    Spousal benefits are paid by employers – I’m betting Massachusetts law is similar to California law on this score. Let’s assume it is for the moment just for argument’s sake.

    Boston recognizes gay marriage so spousal benefits are paid to married gay couples.

    If Chick-Fil-A discriminates by either, not hiring gays, and/or doesn’t hire married gays because it doesn’t want to pay spousal benefits, then Chick-Fil-A is violating the law and the local government is obligated to bar them from doing business until they comply.

    I’d like to know what Chick-Fil-A’s employee health package looks like. Not that it would cover counter and food prep. people, but I bet they cover management at all levels. It’s a big biz so they are required to – or will be required to, under the ACA.

    Lextalionis

    July 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm

  3. Lexa-whatever- Chick fil a probably does what most companies do- hire poor folks part time only- this loophole allows them to avoid any obligation for benefits.
    As far as gay marriage is concerned, society has turned on its ear.
    Your gay? Fine! You want to be in a relationship? Fine! Thats your right as an American. Do whatever you want in the bedroom. And stop trying to convince people its normal. And why should society be obligated to provide benefits to you and your partner?
    I think its silly that they publicized their opinion as a company, thats bad business. Yet this is still America, isnt it? Its not illegal to have an opinion, yet…

    Steve

    July 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    • You know, I’d like to know what “normal” is when it comes to marriage. Is it just that it be confined to a man and woman? I mean, my parents were a normal married couple. And he was a raging psychopath who verbally, physically and sexually abused both of us for 15 years of my life. But that? That is ok to conservative Christians because, well, at least they could reproduce. Anything else would be sinful. I am an atheist who is about to marry a Christian. Is that normal enough? My friend is a white woman married to a black man. Is that normal? It wouldn’t have been not too long ago. My other friend is gay…and so is her husband. They are married so that they can each get the benefits of being married since they can’t get them otherwise. Is that normal? I guess it is since they have the necessary parts…a tab a and slot b. That’s all that really matters to make a marriage normal anyway, right? The fact that two people love each other and want to spend their lives together. The fact that they are willing to commit to one another. The fact that they want to have a house and a yard and 2.5 kids and a damned dog. Those thing? Those things mean jack shit. It’s the genitalia that really matters. You make me want to puke.

      memyselfandi

      July 30, 2012 at 8:46 pm

  4. Why do folks who claim to be open to modern definitions for marriage, only count to two? Cannot 3 or more be married? Just asking !

    John Galt

    July 30, 2012 at 9:22 pm

  5. I agree with the earlier comment and the general gist of this post – they can be against gay marriage – so long s they don’t break any labor or other laws when they do it. I doubt many LGBT folks would WANT to work there – but is that a “hostile work environment” – haven’t seen anything that the refuse to hire gay staff…or have I missed that?

    Matt Johnsen

    July 30, 2012 at 9:27 pm

  6. “Do whatever you want in the bedroom. And stop trying to convince people its normal. And why should society be obligated to provide benefits to you and your partner?”

    Gosh, thanks for letting us do whatever we want in the bedroom. Out of sight out of mind, right? I get so tired of people repeating the “don’t throw it in my face” mantra, when they themselves throw their vanilla hetero lifestyle in our faces every day of the year. It’s time to wake up buddy, on any given day walking down the street the “normal” people walking by are gay or lesbian, or trans, into S&M, celibate, or any other hue in the spectrum of human sexuality. Is “normal” being white heterosexual anglo-saxon protestant? I get so tired of people using 1950s style rhetoric to define our current culture. Get with it. Civil rights, gender equality… remember those little things? Yes, before them it wasn’t “normal” to be a black person at the front of the bus. Guess what? Times are changing, try to keep up.

    Oh and why should society be obligated? Because WE ARE SOCIETY. Crazy notion huh? We pay taxes, we volunteer at social organizations, we vote, we have every right you do… except for one. I see a day when the christian fundamentalists lose their stranglehold on American political power, and we will have that right as well.

    Andrew

    July 31, 2012 at 8:08 am

    • I say, if the homosexual community isn’t afforded the same rights as everyone else. they shouldn’t have to pay taxes. It’s only fair. If they can’t have the benefits of being a citizen, they should have the responsibilties of being one either.

      memyselfandi

      July 31, 2012 at 1:21 pm

  7. Two thinking beings, no matter what they look like or how they are constucted should be able to enter into a contract and get the benefits provided from it, shouldn’t matter even if your a freaking robot as long as you have a social security #…

    Pyrodin

    July 31, 2012 at 9:32 am

  8. I don’t care if six people want to marry each other as long as all parties are able-minded adults who enter the contract willingly. I don’t get why everyone is so obsessed with what other people are doing all the time. Mind your business before someone decides something YOU do is abnormal and should be outlawed.

    memyselfandi

    July 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm

  9. Doug, I agree with you. I don’t support bias and bigotry and I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A. However, I don’t believe it is the duty of any government to make that decision for me. It is a very slippery slope to tackle and, as you say, it is illegal.

    Lee Whittaker

    August 1, 2012 at 11:58 am

  10. One of the best documentaries I have ever watched was “For the Bible Tells Me So.” It was about parents who learned of their children’s homosexuality and their reaction. Those reactions ranged from complete rejection and their child committing suicide, to attempts to “fix them” with re-programming seminars, to parents who understood and accepted and supported their child.

    But what really unfolds for the viewer is what UNCONDITIONAL LOVE is (which is what I choose to believe is the whole point of invoking JESUS as an example not a judge, if you are going to go there). In this documentary, example after example of a parent’s transformation is played out. It was so clear to me that I made sure my daughter’s watched it with me so that they could examine their own beliefs and biases and question from where they originated. It also serves to understand the fear of others who root themselves to the moral high ground and prepare boiling pots of oil to pour on advancing human beings that don’t agree with them.

    I agree with Andrew. WE ARE SOCIETY. The shame, punishment and restriction we invoke on one another in the name of all that is derived from beliefs about what happens after we die is, in my opinion, fundamentally nuts, not fundamentally Christian.

    Linda Galindo

    August 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm


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