Fighting over Waffle Fries
I haven’t said much on the Chick-fil-A controversy. I’ve enjoyed reading the thoughts of my friend Patrick. The main reason I’ve refrained was that I saw it all as part of our process. People disagreed with the position Truett Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, took and encouraged their friends to not eat there. They also objected to some of the organizations Chick-fil-A chooses to support with its profits, and again encouraged their friends not to eat there.
I have so much respect for someone who is willing to stand up for their beliefs, especially when it’s going to cost them something. I have friends who loved Chick-fil-A, but now refuse to eat there. I have great respect for those who choose not to eat at Chick-fil-A because of an objection to Chick-Fil-A giving to organizations they don’t want to support, or an objection to the CEO of Chick-fil-A stating he believes in a traditional view of marriage.
I also respect Truett Cathy for taking a stand he knows will be unpopular. He runs a company that closes on Sundays, sometimes incurring a fine from the malls they are in. He believes in something and are willing for it to cost him something.
Everything so far is nothing more than a free republic and individuals acting by their conscience, even when they disagree. Again, all part of how our process works.
But there are two recent developments in the Chick-fil-A controversy that I’m disturbed by.
Abuse of Power?
The first is the move by the mayors of Chicago and Boston to no longer allow Chick-fil-A to open any more restaurants in their cities.
We now move beyond the realm of individual people speaking their minds, and their conscience. In this case, we have two mayors bring the power of the state to bear. I’m not taking about the state of Illinois, or Massachusetts, I’m talking about the political state whether that’s a city, county, state, or country. Essentially, these mayors are seeking to take punitive measures against a business because its CEO doesn’t agree with them. This, to me, seems like a very bad precedent to set.
If you can, put aside the specific issue and just thing through the abstract idea. A politician disagrees with a private citizen’s opinion on an issue, and therefore feels empowered to curtail that individuals right to buy and sell within his political power sphere. Imagine for a moment the political power doesn’t agree with you. Is this really something we are okay with?
Let me say this another way. How would you feel if say the mayor of Montgomery announced his city was going to give all its catering business to Chick-fil-A in order to support their stand? The way I see things, both this action, and what the mayors of Boston and Chicago are doing are equally wrong.
In addition, these cities are experiencing high employment and while I imagine working fast food isn’t high on many people’s list of jobs they want, a paycheck is a paycheck, and when you don’t have one, the prospect of one is mighty nice. It seems to me to be a little short sighted of these mayors. Are they trying to score political points at the cost of someone’s job?
We do bring political power to bear when there are issues surrounding hiring and firing, or a business discriminating against a certain class of customers. I have yet to see the first lawsuit even claiming Chick-fil-A discriminates against LGBT people in hiring or firing, nor I have seem anything that indicates that they refuse to serve LGBT people as customers. I have someone in my circle of friends that is openly LGBT and works at Chick-fil-A. They have never treated him any different. Chick-fil-A doesn’t appear to have done anything that rises to the level that would require political intervention.
This brings me to the second development that disturbs me. We have seen a remarkable lack of tolerance given to Chik-Fil-A. The message, sent by the mayors and others, seems to be ‘agree with us, or we will destroy you’. This doesn’t seem like it would create an environment for healthy debate. Apparently, we can tolerate no dissent.
I have to wonder what is so dangerous about Truett Cathy and his company that he has been singled out to be attacked this way. His only crime appears to be espousing a position different from those attacking him. The same position held by many Americans including none other than President Barrack Obama up until about two months ago.
This is supposed to be a land of majority rule and minority rights. Majority rule means that if you can get 51% of the populace to vote with you, you can pass a law that makes same sex marriage legal, as many states have done. Minority rights mean that the other 49% don’t have to agree with it.
To me, this seems a battle better fought in halls of State Senates and State Houses than in your local chicken sandwich shop.
What is your take on this whole controversary surrounding Chick-Fil-A? How is it impacting you?
As a post-script, I have written my own views on the same sex marriage issue. You can read them here.
Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.