I realize I'm a little late in the game getting to this, but I hope that what I've got to say about it makes an impact anyway.
I don't think it's necessary to go into the details of the Chick-Fil-A controversy.
I do, however, think it's necessary to discuss a few things that are obvious to those who get their news from some places, and entirely unknown to those who get their news from other places.
Much of the conversation about CFA's policy has centered around the idea that they are being "punished" and their "rights infringed" because COO and President Dan Cathy, whose family founded the company, has said about his opposition to gay marriage. Boycotting or opposing his company, the argument goes, is a violation of his right to free speech.
This is, simply put, nonsense. Dan Cathy has every right to say what he wants...and I have every right to refuse to buy his products in response.
But here's the part that a lot of right-wing "news" sources aren't covering: it's not about what he said. It's about what he does with the money that we, his customers, give him.
What does he do with it? Well, last year he spent a couple of million dollars feeding some pretty nasty organizations. Organizations like:
- The Family Research Council. FRC is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a full-on hate group. They've made such heart-warming statements as "pedophilia is a homosexual problem," and made comparisons between gays and terror groups. FRC recently spent $25,000 lobbying the US Congress to NOT condemn Uganda's new laws making homosexuality a capital crime - that is to say, one punishable by death.
- The Marriage and Family Foundation, founded by CFA vice-president Donald "Bubba" Cathy and part of a larger group called the Anti-Gay Marriage CoMission, which is a broad coalition of anti-gay hate groups.
- Exodus International, an odious "pray away the gay" group specializing in "converting" homosexuals to heterosexuals...a practice condemned by psychology and psychiatry which has led to several suicides.
- CFA owns the non-profit WinShape foundation, through which all these donations and many more are funneled. Additionally, WinShape operates the WinShape retreat, which has publicly and openly stated that it refuses access to homosexual couples.
Beyond all of this, CFA's corporate behavior is invasive, intolerant, and sometimes illegal. A 2007 Forbes Magazine article, headlined "The Cult Of Chick-Fil-A," describes rampant discrimination in hiring and franchise practics, including background checks that read more like an FBI prove into a potential cabinet member including interviews with family (including children), a stated preference for married franchise owners because they are "more stable," and Dan Cathy's remark quoted in the Forbes article that he would probably fire an employee or terminate an operator who "has been sinful or done something harmful to their family members."
All of this is besides things like the guy who finally got a job with the company after twenty four interviews and one prior rejection, including a final interview that lasted five hours. Things like the pregnant mother currently suing the company for firing her because they thought she should be a stay at home mom. Things like the muslim manager who was fired (and sued, and settled) for refusing to participate in a group prayer to Jesus at a company retreat. These two suits are among at least nineteen employment discrimination suits filed against the company since 1988, a number which would likely be much higher if they weren't so diligent about screening potential employees ahead of time.
In short, this is not a matter of free speech, but a matter of the privilege of wealth and self-righteous sanctimony masquerading as religious devotion. While it may be true that Dan Cathy's remarks prompted greater public awareness of the odious, discriminatory, and distinctly un-Christian behavior of Chick-Fil-A, it is not in the least bit true that Cathy is being punished for his words, nor that his "first amendment rights" are being violated.
What's really happening here is a libertarian's wet dream: a rare fulfillment of their credo that "the free market will eliminate businesses which engage in unethical practices." Chick-Fil-A engages in unethical business practices, and the "free market" has spoken with regards to their support for those practices or lack thereof.
As for those who are patting themselves on the back for participating in right-wing shill Mike Huckabee's "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day," I hope all these folks giggling and laughing about how much money they've spent supporting hate groups remember what it felt like when "white, straight, christians" are no longer the majority social group in this country. See how you feel about "freedom of speech" when the majority decide that Christianity is a disease that should be cured, being white is a character defect, and being straight is a mental illness closely associated with sexually abusing children.
That's the beauty of our system, you see - you can't set things up to abuse the rights of other people, without creating the risk of having your own rights abused. I just hope for the sake of principle and integrity that when the day comes that these kinds of fundamentalist abusers of power find themselves holding the short end of the stick, those they have abused have the dignity and honor to *not* fall into the trap of giving them a taste of their own medicine.
After all, we're supposed to be better than that.