Atlanta-based fast food firm Chick-fil-A has come under fire nationally this week after comments made by its president Dan Cathy, who told the Baptist Press that he was “guilty as charged” of being “very much supportive” of the “biblical definition of the family unit.” Ugh. We know by now that he’s speaking in thinly veiled code for “Gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry because Jesus.” I guess we can take solace that he put his mouth where his money is. More on that in a bit.
Public outrage in progressive locales has begun resonating with their politicians. Boston mayor Thomas Menino wrote Cathy a letter that ended up in every corner of the Internet: “I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston,” the letter reads. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel also hopped on the Eat Less Chikin’ express:
“Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. “They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents.”
Emanuel was vowing his support for Alderman Proco Moreno’s announcement that he would block construction of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in his district.
“If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don’t want you in the First Ward,” he told the newspaper.
Tonight, Lauren Silich, the owner/operator of Chick-fil-A’s Loyola Water Tower Location–the only branch currently within city limits–posted her response to mayor Emanuel on the franchise’s Facebook page:
While Silich makes some strong points in her letter, she does not even begin to address–let alone take a stand against–the reasons that Chick-fil-A is facing this outrage. Her employees–”leaders for future generations, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs”–are denied the fundamental pursuit of happiness in the bigoted universe that Chick-fil-A is “guilty as charged” of supporting if they are gay and in love.
Money that Silich’s franchise generates for its parent goes directly towards supporting marriage inequality. While it’s odd that the general public has chosen to become outraged now as opposed to, say, when Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation, Win Shape, donated $1.1 million to anti-gay groups from 2003-2008 or in 2009 when it gave about $2 million to Marriage & Family Legacy Fund, Focus on the Family, Exodus International, and the Family Research Council, these were values publicly held and supported by Chick-fil-A and Dan Cathy long before Silich opened her franchise in 2011. Chick-fil-A’s values, and the fact that people in Chicago would be offended by them, should not be a surprise to her.
The mitigating factor, of course, is that everyone–gay or straight, tolerant, or bigoted–with good taste in food can agree Chick-fil-A is fucking delicious. Its spicy chicken sandwich’s meat quality and flavor makes it best in class (and if you say Wendy’s is better, you’re wrong). The special sauce–oh my GOD, the special sauce–you guys. And don’t get Drew Magary started on their banana pudding milkshake. The restaurants are always clean, fast, and efficient while the service is universally exemplary. I’ve never heard of an order getting fucked up or a sandwich that didn’t meet quality standards and I keep my ears and eyes out for those sorts of things.
Because Chick-fil-A is so fucking delicious and we all know it, we’ve all collectively neglected to take a moral stance about all this until right now–and, once again, its politics are not a new development–and our decisions have given franchise owners like Lauren Silich the financial incentive to join us in paying no attention to the man behind the curtain. Chick-fil-A could have been donating millions of dollars to nefarious groups that exist only to ruthlessly slaughter adorable puppies and we’d be unable to quell our yearning for the sweet satisfaction of chasing a chicken biscuit with a large Coke and some waffle fries dipped in that godly special sauce mixed with ketchup and ranch.
Gay marriage is undeniably becoming increasingly tolerated and embraced in America. Does our new intolerance for Chick-fil-A’s long-running intolerance mean we are progressing as a society ? Maybe? That’d definitely be awesome but we’ll see what sort of legs this story has before we all move on to the next outrage. (Please, dear LORD, let it be guns!) Hopefully this bad will hurts Chick-fil-A’s bottom line enough to get it to stop donating to homophobic organizations masquerading in the name of Christ–what does Dan Cathy value more, “traditional marriage” or money?–but they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place now because they’re based in the South where intolerance is much more, um, tolerated. (Mike Huckabee–remember him?–has declared 8-1 to be Support Chick-fil-A Day.)
And if we’re going to start actually caring about the ethics along our food supply chain, we’re on an awfully slippery slope. If we cease our willful ignorance as to what corners must be cut for dollar menus to exist and processed food to be so affordable and accessible, we’re going to be in for a pretty fucking rude awakening. (Full disclosure: I’ve deliberately avoided watching Meet Your Meat for three years after being made aware of it because I’m too cowardly to face the conscious decision of becoming a vegetarian–or even only eating ethically raised meat–or continuing to consume meat when I’m more aware of inhumane factory slaughter processes.)
Enough of that depressing shit, though, let’s get back to Chick-fil-A and, specifically, INSISTING not to eat there for like a month or until we get an insincere apology–whichever comes first.
Individual franchise owners like Lauren Silich, who have genuine tolerance for homosexuals, are undoubtedly feeling this string of backlash the hardest. They need to band together to do something about the company’s president making defiant, divisive statements that are crushing their opportunities to expand in major cities. (Not that this is a defense but Cathy was playing a home game with the Baptist Press and couldn’t have dreamed his words would create such a shitstorm after America ignored his money trail for so long.)
If the momentum from all this continues past the weekend I bet we get a fake apology from Dan Cathy next week. Stay tuned.