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Thursday, August 02, 2012

Chick-fil-Yay or Chick-fil-Nay?

THURSDAY CONFESSION #31: This blog entry is one that I ended up re-writing seven times because I wanted to try and keep an open mind and look at both sides before forming an opinion in hopes of not offending too many people.

Of course, one thing that I have learned in thirty-one years of living is that no matter how careful one is, there are always going to be some people who turn against you simply because they disagree with something you say. And today's blog post might end up doing just that. But, I'm prepared for it.

By now, I'm sure most of you have heard of a little American fast food chain known as “Chick-fil-A”. For those of you who haven't heard of the restaurant, it's a fast food outlet that makes chicken sandwiches, chicken wraps, and everything else to do with chickens.

(Well, okay, I don't believe their desserts contain least, I HOPE not.)

Anyway, Chick-fil-A has been at the center of a political firestorm in the United States over the past couple of months, and it seems that by looking on social media sites and on various online news publications, everybody seems to have an opinion on Chick-fil-A. And, well, I figured that I would join the opinion bandwagon as well.

Before I do that, I have an admission that I would like to make. I have never eaten at a Chick-fil-A restaurant myself. The reason being that Chick-fil-A (at least to my knowledge) has never opened up a franchise in Canada. In fact, Chick-fil-A locations seem to be few and far between in the Northern part of the United States...which I suppose makes sense, since the first restaurant opened up in Georgia in 1967. So, I'm going into this blog entry without having any knowledge of the food quality...which is fine, because anyone who has kept up with the controversy knows that it has nothing to do with the chicken or the cows that ask people to “Eat Mor Chiken”.

Instead, it has to do with this man below.

Dan T. Cathy is the current president of the family-owned business Chick-fil-A (his father S. Truett Cathy founded the company), and over the last couple of months has been under scrutiny for comments that he made during the summer of 2012.

On June 16, 2012, Cathy appeared on “The Ken Coleman Show”, where he made the following statement: “I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage'. I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is all about”.

Needless to say, these sorts of remarks didn't sit too well with a lot of people, especially to the sector of the population who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.

Then on July 2, the “Chick” really hit the fan.

On the same day that the LGBT group “Equality Matters” published a list of anti-gay organizations that Chick-fil-A donated millions of dollars to, Cathy's interview with “Biblical Recorder” was published, in which he was questioned about the opposition against Chick-fil-A's support of the “traditional family”. His response? “Guilty as charged”.

He continued on to say this: “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We want to do everything we can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that. We intend to stay the course. We know that it may not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

And, therein lies the firestorm.

To those people who live near a Chick-fil-A, or have eaten at a Chick-fil-A, the company's religious views are no surprise. The founder of the company was raised Southern Baptist, and has implemented many of his belief systems into how each of the 1,600+ restaurants in the chain are run, which includes a 6-day operation schedule (all Chick-fil-A locations are closed on Sundays).

But, clearly not everyone agrees with the stance that Chick-fil-A has taken on this matter. Again, it boils down to Cathy's beliefs on marriage. He clearly believes that the only family that matters is the traditional family that is outlined in the Bible...that marriage should only be between one man and one woman. And, well, he certainly is entitled to his beliefs, just as I am entitled to state that I DO NOT share them. I'll explain more about that statement towards the end of my blog for today.

At any rate, Chick-fil-A has been all over the news the last couple of months, and not all of the publicity has been good for the company. Thousands of people took to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to express their opinions about the controversy. And everyone knows that when you have two groups of people voicing two different opinions about a controversial subject as Chick-fil-A and its belief system, the feathers are bound to fly.

I even remember scrolling down my news feed on Facebook and actually seeing full-blown arguments complete with insults, F-bombs, and just nasty, uncouth behaviour on a couple of people's personal walls between friends of theirs, and I just shook my head in disbelief.

Certainly everyone is entitled to their opinions about the chain's stance (believe me, I have mine), but at the same time, I don't think that those opinions should allow us to treat other people with disrespect and vitriol because they happen to share a different view as someone else. It was really disturbing to see.

In the political and entertainment world, there has certainly been a lot of opinions about the stance that Chick-fil-A has on the subject of marriage, and some of them have not been well-received.

For instance, just days after Dan Cathy's interview was released, the mayors of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco announced that they did not want to see Chick-fil-A restaurants open up in their cities, which some criticized. Some said that it violated the First Amendment, while others believed that the mayors of said cities had no right to deny a chain the right to open up a business in their community because they disagreed with the company's beliefs. I'm admittedly torn on this issue, because both sides make compelling arguments. On one hand, you can say that the mayors of the cities (much like Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy) are standing up for their own beliefs as well as defending the citizens who are a part of the LGBT community...but on the other hand, I don't know that blocking a business from opening up on the basis of their belief system is a good thing, particularly with the economy is the way it is.  Of course, it's up to the citizens of these cities to make their minds up as to whether or not to eat there should one open up.

But, what happens when people go too far with their words?

The above is a tweet that was uttered by Roseanne Barr. Unedited in all its “glory”. I get that a lot of people are up in arms over the Chick-fil-A scandal, and that there is a lot of people speaking out about it, but wishing cancer on people who do eat at Chick-fil-A is perhaps one of the most disgusting things that I can think of wishing upon anyone. To Roseanne's credit, she somewhat apologized, stating that she shouldn't have used the word “deserved”...but the damage had already been done by then. Much like Chick-fil-A's stance caused outrage in millions of people, Roseanne's counterattack caused outrage in millions more, and just served to divide opinion even further. It ended up causing more harm than good because in this situation, two wrongs do not make a right.

And, I think that's the lesson that all parties can take from the whole Chick-fil-A scandal. Two wrongs don't make a right.

This leads to my own opinion about this scandal. I don't particularly agree with the stance that Dan Cathy, and Chick-fil-A have on gay marriage. As far as I'm concerned, if two people love each other and they just happen to be the same sex, I think they should have the right to enter into a marriage if that is what they both want. The fact that Chick-fil-A feels differently is disappointing, considering that other businesses such as JCPenney, Archie Comics, and Oreo cookies have welcomed people of all backgrounds, statuses, and sexual orientation to enjoy their products without prejudice. But I don't hate Chick-fil-A, or wish their customers cancer, or anything like that. Things like that don't help. They just make the problem worse. 

Granted, I likely won't be eating at a Chick-fil-A any time soon.  I'll readily admit that I don't agree with the opinions of Mr. Cathy, but it's also because of the fact that there aren't any locations in this area. In all honesty though, I don't care for fast food chicken sandwiches, whether they be from Chick-fil-A, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or McDonald's. I've always preferred pizza anyway.

But at the same time, I don't think that I have the right to tell other people not to eat at Chick-fil-A just because I don't agree with their policies. I'd like to think that most of us are capable of making up our own minds as to which businesses to support and which ones not to. If people want to go to Chick-fil-A because they like the food, they have the choice to do so. Similarly, if people choose not to support Chick-fil-A because of their beliefs and actions, that is their choice as well.  

However, to close this argument off, I do have a few questions for Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A. I realize that the odds of him seeing this blog are slim to nil, but I'll just put it out there anyway, realizing that my own stance will be in full view for all to see.

Question #1: There are a few states that have legalized gay marriage. Among them are Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Iowa, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C. Looking at the Chick-fil-A map of locations, five of the seven have at least one Chick-fil-A restaurant there. With this knowledge, I ask the question. If you had a person applying for a job there who happened to be married to someone of the same sex, would you give them the job?

Question #2: Was the safety recall on the Muppet toys that were offered with children's meals at Chick-fil-A merely coincidental as spokespeople for the company had said, or was there more to it than that? 

Question #3:  Do you really believe that it is a wise business decision to single out an entire demographic of people who could be paying customers to prove a point?  Is this really any different than the segregation of people based on their skin colour six decades ago?

I'm not trying to start something here.  My questions to the company have been worded as politely as possible.  I'm just interested in what these answers might be, is all.  

I suppose that's all I have to say on the issue. Now I open up the floor to you. What are your opinions on the matter?  Are you Chick-fil-yay, or Chick-fil-nay?  I welcome all points of view here...but just be warned...I don't tolerate fighting and I don't tolerate people making derogatory comments towards other people. So, please play nice. That's all I ask.

Because when it all comes down to it, are you going to let a bunch of illiterate cow spokesanimals turn you into the biggest jerk possible?  Ask yourself that question before you comment...and this message is directed at both "yay" and "nay" camps, I should add.

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