So this past week or so has been notable for a variety of reasons, but one that has stuck out prominently has been where Dan Cathy, the owner of the popular chicken place "Chick-Fil-A" did an interview where he copped to supporting anti-gay organizations and charities, saying "Guilty as charged".
And since then there has been lots of hand wringing over this, with those on the left railing against Cathy and Chick-Fil-A for those comments, and with those on the right wanting to suport them even more. You even have some local politicians in Chicago and Boston that have stated that they don't want Chick-Fil-A to expand into their area, due to their anti-marriage equality stance.
This has all been interesting to me, but I haven't really gotten too worked up over it for a few reasons, but the main one is that it seems that I tend to repeat myself a lot when it comes to a couple topics, this one being one of them. I mean you can find plenty of pieces that I've written over the years on the subject of homophobia, bigotry against LGBT individuals, the suicides of LGBT kids due to bullying, or attempts to ban marriage equality. So there's not much I could really say on this that wouldn't come off as if I was rehashing it, so that's why I didn't write anything about it.
And I actually had more than one person surprised that I hadn't written about it, because this seems to be my lane, so to speak. However after thinking about it, and reading a bit more on the topic at hand, there is something I'd like to say, which may or may not come as a surprise to a lot of those who read my blog regularly.
MORE AFTER THE BREAK
As long as he does not discriminate against LGBT individuals who come to get a job there, and he doesn't discriminate against LGBT individuals whow ant to eat there, I have zero problem with what he's done. That is his right in this country. He's a conservative Christian who believes that Gay people are the scourge of the earth. Why wouldn't he support those types of organizations? I'm not going to tell someone that because I disagree with them, that they can't go out and spend their money on whatever cause they want.
Now on the flip side of that coin, however, the customers have the right to let him know just how much they are offended by his decision. They have the right to boycott his establishment, and to encourage others to boycott them as well. Just like those on Fox News and whatnot have every right to set up a "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" and encourage all their supporters to go and buy from Chick-Fil-A (as they did yesterday) and show their support for those charities and organizations.
That's the way our society works. The problem is that too many people don't understand how the 1st amendment and free speech works. You have people like Sarah Palin who time and time again shows that she has no clue how Free Speech actually functions in our society. She seems to think that she should be able to say anything she wants, and no one can ever question her or criticize her for that. That to do so would be to infringe on her rights to Free Speech.
"Dr." Laura Schlessinger also is one of those people. On her show last year there was a discussion stemming from an African American female caller who called the show and said how she felt uncomfortable because her husband, who was White, had friends who would make racist comments and use the N word around her.
Dr. Laura took offense at her taking offense, and seemed to hit on what she felt was a rock solid argument: That Black comedians use the N word all the time and in her mind no Black people ever take offense to that, so why can't white people say it? Or something like that.
So Dr. Laura after using that word a number of times, was the focus of a boycott and criticism for what she said. And in response she complained that her First Amendment rights were being violated, once again showing that many people have no idea what the First Amendment does.
The First Amendment guarantees that the Government cannot lock you up for something that you say (with a few execeptions such as threatening to harm someone). It does not guarantee that no one can express dissatisfaction with what they said, and it does not guarantee that no one can organize a boycott of you and/or your business.
So to sum up here: Dan Cathy can support all the anti-gay legislations he wants. The Government cannot stop him from expanding his business into their areas because of it, and they cannot lock him up for it. However customers can decide they don't want to support an openly bigoted individual who will take the money that the customers spend, and then use it to further fight against equality for everyone regardless of sexual identity. And other organizations can launch boycotts against them, just as supporters can launch "Buycotts" in favor of them.
Got that? Good.
Now on to the reason I'm writing this, and the reason that I am strongly against Dan Cathy and by extension Chick-Fil-A. It's not just that they're supporting organizations that are against marriage equality. In this day and age that's not unique and that's not really special. Any random knob can be against marriage equality and get their 15 minutes of fame.
No, where this rises above that from merely ignorant to flat out dangerous and harmful is in the other things that Dan Cathy supports. There are three aspects to his support of these organizations that stand out to me as especially egregious.
First off we have the fact that not only is he supporting anti marriage equality bills here, but he's also a supporter of groups that are behind the bill in Uganda that at one point advocated for the murder of homosexuals.
One of the group that Cathy supports with his donations is the Family Research Council. This group, in 2010, spent $25,000 to lobby the US congress to not come out against a bill in Uganda that would allow for the murder of homosexuals.
This bill is supported heavily by many "Christian" groups in THIS country, including the Family Research Council and "Pastor" Rick Warren who has said his own hateful things about the LGBT community.
You get that? Chick-Fil-A are supporting efforts to murder homosexuals in Uganda. Anyone else wondering if that's viewed as a "test run" for seeing if they can implement it here? I mean it's not like there's any shortage of so-called Christian leaders in America advocating for the murder of LGBT citizens or anything.
They're not just supporting the efforts, they're supporting efforts to PREVENT the condemnation of those efforts. This is beyond the pale and it's incredibly disgusting.
And thankfully it seems that the general public agrees. While there was an overwhelming turnout yesterday for the "Buycott" organized by people like Mike Huckabee, Rick Warren and Sarah Palin, the overall outlook is not good for the Chick-Fil-A brand. A new report measuring the brand Index rating of the franchise shows it has plummeted in the immediate aftermath of Cathy's comments.
There's also the issue with the fact that they have donated and support a group called "Exodus International" which engages in Reparative Therapy, or what is referred to as "Pray Away the Gay". Exodus International believes that they can turn gay people straight through the power of Prayer and God's love, despite this flying in the face of every single respectable scientific study. Now in recent months Exodus has stepped back and tried to distance itself from this practice saying that they do not support this, but there have been undercover stings that have shown that they in fact have. And despite their words to the contrary, they do seem to still believe that being gay is a "sin" and a "sickness" that needs to be fixed.
In fact, not only is it completely and utterly baseless, but it's extremely dangerous. The fact of the matter is that parents who don't know how to cope with the fact that their children are gay unfortunately turn to quack shops like Exodus International who manipulate their confusions and convince them that their son or daughter can be a real kid again once they wash that gay right out of their hair via prayer and God's love. Instead what happens is the kids are shamed and feel such a self loathing that can lead to self destructive behaviors.
So I think people are focused on the wrong things in this situation. Is it really a big deal that they don't support same sex marriage equality? To me, no it isn't. There are lots of companies out there that support right wing causes or are extremely bigoted. That's not unique in and of itself. What's the problem is supporting dangerous policies that can lead to irreparable harm to people by engaging in this nonsense "therapy" or supporting laws to allow the murders of LGBT people.
THAT is what I find offensive, and why I 100% support the boycott of Chick-Fil-A. Which is a wonderful expression of our first amendment rights to peaceably assemble and protest. I don't support banning Chick-Fil-A from expanding into Boston or wherever that has Mayors and Governors saying they don't want them there, but I DO support letting them know just how much you're offended where it hurts them the most.
Their pocketbooks. Because the less money you give them, the less money they have to give to harmful policies and lobbyists. Which is a beautiful thing, indeed.
And one final thing. I know a lot of people who are anti-gay get upset at being labeled "Homophobes". They drag out their trusty dictionary and say "this means fear of gays, I'm not afraid, I just don't like it". The thing is, though, that it is a fear. These people who are so rabidly anti-gay are are those who are also strongly "Christian" and believe that their views on God and the Bible means that they should be against any and all things LGBT.
And their anger and frustration over these issues is based around a fear. A fear that somehow this world they think they have always known is being taken away. They fear the encroaching of homosexuality on pop culture, and they fear this suddenly embracing of all things LGBT. They fear these things, which is where the term homophobe comes in.
So you can hate LGBT people all you want, you can support all the bigoted groups you want, but know that while you are exercising your rights to do that, others can and probably will exercise their rights to let you know just how wrong they feel you are.
Which is the very definition of the Free Market which so many Conservatives profess to love.