Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Suppose I Should Say Something: The Chik-fil-A Boycott

Perhaps you heard the news last week about the boycott of Chik-fil-A.  Chik-fil-A, for those of you who live under a rock, is a fast food restaurant, and the owner, Dan Cathy, is a bigot.  He says he supports the “traditional family” (whatever that’s supposed to mean—is he aware of all those men in the Bible who had multiple wives?  Or how about hunter-gatherer tribes in which childrearing is shared by tribe members, many of whom consider themselves fathers of a particular child because they believe in partible paternity?).  Cathy puts his money where his mouth is: Chik-fil-A has given a lot of money to anti-gay groups such as the Family Research Council.  And frankly, Dan Cathy can donate money as he sees fit.  That’s not a problem.

Nor is it a problem for people to boycott Chik-fil-A because Dan Cathy is an anti-gay bigot.  I see this play of events as a sign of a healthy capitalist nation.  It’s voting with your dollars!  I agree with the position that politicians cannot and should not use or manipulate zoning laws to prevent construction of new Chik-fil-A locations.  I may be socially liberal, but let’s remember that tolerance requires us to put up with some stuff we don’t like.

I had two thoughts I wanted to share about this whole Chik-fil-A issue.  The first is that I remember Matt telling me several years ago that Dan Cathy is a Christian bigot, and that’s why Matt avoided Chik-fil-A.  He was ahead of the curve!  I find this very funny and rather charming.  I like a man with a moral backbone.  The second is that for me, as a vegetarian, this Chik-fil-A thing has no impact on my food life.  I don’t frequent Chik-fil-A or any other restaurant that has the word “chicken” or a derivative in the name.  The horror of the industrial chicken industry weighs heavily on my heart, and I know that I could never, ever go back to eating industrially-raised meat.  I don’t want to eat meat period, but thinking about conventional animal agriculture makes me want to cry.

I don’t want to give you the impression that I never eat fast food.  That’s not true.  I love a good burrito, and when I’m traveling, I often get a Subway sub (packed with vegetables!) at the airport.  In College Station, we have a terrific taco restaurant, Fuego, that serves a unique and delicious array of tacos in soft corn tortillas.  At Fuego, they have at least one vegetarian taco, and you can order other options and ask them to leave off the meat.  I do, however, avoid the chicken finger restaurants and most of the traditional fast food restaurants—McDonald’s, Taco Bell, etc.  I don’t like their politics, and I’ve got other options, even in College Station with its overabundance of chain fast food restaurants.

Even though I feel like I’m watching the Chik-fil-A boycott from the sidelines, I want to throw my voice of support into the fray: stay strong, friends.  Fight the good fight.  And maybe it’s time to think about opting out of eating industrially raised meat altogether.


Raquelita said...

I think there's a line that might get crossed between free speech and donating to charities that promote a culture of hatred and violence against members of the LGBT community. I haven't had time (or internets) to research it yet, but I also have the impression that Chik-fil-A has been sued several times for discriminatory employment practices in the past few years.

In any case, factory-farm, massed-produced chicken is bad.

Rosiecat said...

Certainly there is a lot to unpack in the Chik-fil-A boycott! I appreciate the distinction you are making: I think it points to that (perhaps blurry) line where free speech turns into hate speech. In that case, if we think a charity is performing hate speech, I think we have to hold the charity primarily responsible for its actions. The next question is whether we hold its supporters responsible.

I had *heard* that Chik-fil-A was not discriminatory in its business practices, but that information may be incorrect. I didn't look into the issue, primarily because we KNOW with confidence about Dan Cathy's views and his support of anti-gay groups.