Five paragraphs, one topic, deep in the night.
Okay, this whole Chick-fil-A mess, with the president of the company coming out against gay folks and claiming we should follow the “biblical interpretation” of marriage. Now we have an uproar (this shouldn’t have surprised anyone, especially the PR folks at Chick-fil-A), with folks taking both sides and blasting away in social media. And initially, it didn’t really bother me that much. I’d heard rumors that Chick-fil-A donated to anti-gay causes, so when Dan Cathy (there’s a split-personality name for you) made his announcement, it was a done deal. I wouldn’t be going there again. A company taking an anti-gay stance is nothing new (hello, Exxon-Mobil). Bigots can rise to power anywhere, and there’s often little or no legislation to prevent discriminatory activity. (In over half the states in this country, it’s perfectly legal to fire someone for simply being gay. Didn’t realize that? You should.)
But then two talking points started rearing their heads, and those points got my little blogger-ass all fired up and typing. First, folks on the conservative side started screaming about the folks on the progressive side attacking a man’s right to free speech. (And the right-wing politicians latched on to that and ran with it, bellowing about how the progressive response was attacking a founding principle of our nation. The right-wing loves the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Except when it doesn’t agree with their political platform. Then they just ignore all those founding documents and founding fathers who didn’t want any of that religion stuff mucking up the law of the land.)
The right-wing is correct on the first part of the issue. Dan Cathy can say whatever he wants. Free country, for the most part. But if you say something, you own it. You can’t get mad when people are offended by what you’ve said. And trying to stifle any reactionary comments is violating the free speech of the people who aren’t happy about the words that came out of your mouth. You can’t have it both ways. So the freedom of speech angle is a wash, Rush Limbaugh. (And by the way, Rush, calling the mayors of Boston and Chicago “Stalinist” for not allowing new Chick-fil-A’s to open further underscores your misunderstanding of world history, evolving social culture, and your worthlessness in society.)
But the more pressing point, for me, is Dan Cathy’s insistence that his company is based on biblical principles. Really, Dan? Okay, this takes us back to the right-wingers picking and choosing when it comes to founding documents, religious or legislative. If you want to justify your bigotry with a particular resource volume, you’ve got to follow every rule in that book. But I’m pretty sure your employees wear uniforms made of mixed fibers. That’s not allowed. And the pork thing? It’s unclean, but you’re serving it with your bacon and sausage platters. I could go on for a while. And when you mix in your conflicting statement of “we don’t discriminate but we think some people don’t deserve the same rights as others”, well, you’re just proving how hypocritical you really are.
Final note, though, is a grand thing in my eyes: We’ve passed a pivotal point. It’s no longer backlash-free to be openly homophobic. People are going to call you on it, as decent people should. Yes, we still have bigots with money, and politicians who insist on scape-goating people who are different. (Seriously, one of the central tenants of the Republican platform is to find minorities to stigmatize so that close-minded folks can feel superior and cast their votes in the red column.) But there’s considerable fallout now. Chick-fil-A may come out of this just fine, especially with the deep-pocket rich conservatives scrambling to protect their dying philosophy of dividing and conquering. But the next company might hesitate to make a similarly offensive PR statement. And the company after that might not consider it at all. And thus another brick is laid in the painful, lurching path toward human decency…