"Damn it, Jenkins, I don't care HOW long we run this campaign, it's bound to be funny eventually!"
Why yes, as a matter of fact, I have been boycotting Chick-Fil-A. I’ve been boycotting them since the day I heard that the company opposes gay marriage. In fact, I’m so pissed at their bigotry that I’ve been retroactively boycotting them for like nine months before the announcement. Actually, aside from the one time I went to the newly opened Hollywood Chick-Fil-A in October, I was boycotting them for the 22 years that I lived in Oregon before that. I’m kicking your asses at this fucking boycott. I’m making this boycott my bitch, boy.
It’s pretty easy for me to be a self-righteous liberal in a boycott-happy society because of my frugal nature and distaste for shopping. Sears advertises with Rush Limbaugh? Boomtown – 23-year preemtive boycott. Geico is an ALEC supporter? I’ll continue my unbroken record of not having Geico insurance. The president of Urban Outfitters is a Rick Santorum donor? The only way I could boycott that place harder is by forgetting it exists, and I wish I could.
If the Mexican take out place a block away from my apartment came out against gay marriage, though, I would weigh my love of equality against my love of convenient access to burritos, and burritos would completely win. Sorry, gay people – if you want my total and unconditional support, I want you on call with refried beans and carnitas.
So Chick-Fil-A COO Dan Cathy is supportive of, “The Biblical definition of the family unit,” which I imagine is a family unit that’s cool with domestic violence, slavery, and almost slitting your son’s throat on a mountaintop because God told you to. That this family unit has no gay people in it goes without saying.
Now, fuck this clown, but you’ve got to admit that it takes guts to say something like that. Not stupidity; guts – Chick-Fil-A is a very well run organization and Dan Cathy clearly possesses a lot of business acumen. As both a business leader and a social conservative I’m sure he’s well aware of the turning tide of corporate support in favor of gay marriage, from the store where I buy jeans to the snack cookie around which I cannot physically control myself.
He sees that popular opinion is turning in favor of gay marriage, and he’s still firmly stating that he’s against it and praying for, “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 about.”
Before I say anything else, can we shut up about redefining marriage? Well into the 1800s marriage was an economic transaction based around property inheritance and ensuring that fathers didn’t have to provide for their useless baby factory daughters anymore, hence arranged marriages, dowries, and various property laws from Victorian England that routinely screwed women out of land that was rightfully theirs (see every Jane Austen novel, ever.) Before that it was about international diplomacy and matching up family members to preserve pure bloodlines. We’ve redefined marriage in the past two hundred years to be strictly about love (or covering for an accidental pregnancy), so I don’t see the harm in redefining it to include Anderson Cooper and Portia de Rossi.
In the face of growing controversy, Cathy has, to borrow a phrase from a competing chicken vendor, doubled down on his rhetoric, boasting on Twitter about how he ‘lit up the LGBT community.’ The boycott has picked up steam, with everybody from The Muppets to Boston attacking Chick-Fil-A and boycotting the chain.
Jonathan Merritt at The Atlantic recently called America out on its boycott-happy nature, and asked if we truly wanted to be a country where we’d refuse to do business with people who we simply don’t agree with. He pointed out that Chick-Fil-A has made generous contributions to many charitable organizations, and that on the customer side they’ll serve you a chicken sandwich no matter how much buttsex you have.
I think I can get along with people I disagree with – my boss is a Republican, and arguably my favorite TV show was written by an ardent reader of National Review.
But I think that right now we’re at a historical turning point in the gay rights movement. There’s a lot of momentum and a lot of publicity, and I think when it comes down to rooting out bigotry, there isn’t a lot of room for compromise. Dan Cathy and, by extension, his restaurant are in violation of principles that are both quintessentially American and quintessentially Christian, and for that we ought to hold his feet to the fire.
That said, we should probably stop short of viewing Chick-Fil-A as the chicken sandwich arm of the Nazi Party or anything. While the man at the top may be kind of a shit, Chick-Fil-A in many other regards espouses the very best of Christianity: Chick-Fil-A donates generously to a foster care program, offers thousands of college scholarships to employees, and distributed free chicken sandwiches to policemen in Aurora, Colorado.
Dan Cathy may or may not make a halfassed apology, but either way the controversy will eventually die down, and Chick-Fil-A will not see a significant loss in sales. What’s important is that we make it understood that this aggression will not stand, man. It must be made clear that opposition to gay rights is as much of a wrong as racism.
Because no matter how strong Cathy’s resolve is, he’s old, and one day he’ll either retire or die. It’s almost a statistical certainty that stewardship of the company will eventually fall to someone who loves God and is also A-OK with gays.
And when that day comes, I might just cease my boycott of Chick-Fil-A. Or, y’know, maybe sooner, if they open one a block away from my apartment.
Truman Capps gives the South a lot of grief, but he's got an unhealthy love of sweet tea.