This is kind of an editorial, but it’s a hot topic right today so I’ll go ahead and throw this into the wind.
From the start I've dismissed the whole business as another social activism fad. Chick-Fil-A was just the next Christian organization in the list to put under fire for supporting bigoted charities. Which is completely reasonable. Supporting anti-gay or otherwise bigoted causes is unconscionable, and it's a practice that should be put under the spotlight wherever it's found until, as a whole, institutional homophobia has been completely purged from the culture.
None the less, still didn't jump on the bandwagon and immediately deem CFA a bad company. According to GlassDoor.com, they pay about as well as any fast food chain, and CareerLeak.com gives the chain decent reviews. The restaurants are generally kept clean and organized and the atmosphere is bright and cheerful as they come in the business. And while it doesn't have necessarily the same religious impact for Jews, Muslims, or Atheists, closing on Sundays guarantees at least a day off every week where some businesses demand 7-day workweeks. I just figured that CFA was a victim of the culture it comes from; it's not like as a company they go out of their way to marginalize LGBT or include anti-gay messages with their kids meals. It's just an institutional norm for being a Christian organization. You close on Sundays, you post inspirational Bible verses in the office, you donate to bigoted charities. It's a vile thing, but it's not an exceptional atrocity. It's just something we all need to look at, frown upon, and eventually, like racism, it will drop out of the mainstream.
So anyway people target Chick-Fil-A for funding bigoted charities. And unsurprisingly employees pop up reporting discriminatory practices. And everyone says oh what horrible people they are. Even some mayors pop up and tell the comany they oppose their franchise extending to their city. And the reaction is broad and predictable.
But I'm not writing all this to tell you a brief history of all the stuff you already know. The interesting thing is what happened next.
As vile as radio pundits are, there is one thing that can be said for them: The best are talented rhetoricians. They know what their audiences think, and they know their triggers. A good pundit knows how to manipulate psychology and misconstrue logic to produce the most sensational (and usually disgusting) reaction from his audience.
For whatever reason, one of the most effective triggers for the right-wing audience is the United States bill of rights. It's not always a consistent interpretation (you'll not often hear any mention of the Ninth Amendment on a sensationalist pundit's show), but the right to Speech and the right to Bear Arms are always a big hit.
So the bizarre new development that people have totally bought into is that The Gays are trying to silence Chick-Fil-A's Freedom of Speech. I missed the exact program that invented this perspective, but from what I hear some pundit found some clips of a homosexual calling for censorship of CFA and managed to rhetorically frame it as the message and intent of all gay people. With a few clever false leads and a couple big lies, a few old men managed to frame CFA as a fantastic defender of Free Speech and sponsored an astroturf "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" movement in the name of Freedom.
I've been astonished from talking to people how quickly people embraced the Freedom vs. Oppresion narrative. Some people are posting pictures of CFA bags on Facebook with captions like "Tastes like freedom". I've been told I'm a bad person for not standing up for CFA's rights and buying their chicken (a confession: I don't really like Chick-Fil-A food very much; I only ever go because it's a great place to go and bond with my family). I've even brought this up in conversation and recieved bewildered comments such as "but didn't this all start when The Gays said they wanted to censor Chick-Fil-A?"
It just all goes to show the power of rhetoric I suppose. The fact that today hundreds of people went to CFA restaurants around the country in support of CFA Appreciation Day is just rhetorical ammunition to present the gay community as a conniving little group without support. It's unlikely you actually got this far without agreeing with me in the first place, but on the off-chance you didn't, just take a moment to consider your position on this issue. Is it really worth even taking sides in a battle invented to frame the gay community as evil? Either way you're just feeding the trolls.
You see, this bugs me. I support Chick-Fil-A and now I am a bigot in your world. People have the right to live how they want to live. That is fine. The government does not have the right to redefine something. I mean, marriage – one man plus one woman – has been around a lot longer than the USA, longer than the British empire, it predates Romans and Chinese culture. For as long as history is, there has been marriage ceremonies, often elaborate, which unify one man with one woman. We can’t come along now and change its meaning.
If homosexuals wish to enter monogamous lifelong unions, that is their business. I am not trying to stop them. If a government wishes to give certain tax and legal provisions based on that, then so be it. And the government/society will face consequences for that (loss of tax revenue, increased healthcare costs due to more dependents) – I am not using this as an argument to prevent allowing unions, just stating a consequence of that decision.
But it is still not marriage. I realize it is just semantics at this point, but it is important to me. The Creator defined marriage in the beginning. We do not have the right to redefine.
Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
That’s both factually untrue and a simplification of the issue, which is that marriage as a legal construct in the United States guarantees certain specific rights and privileges to the married couple, and currently, by denying same-sex couple the right to be married under law, they’re being denied the same rights and benefits they would have otherwise.
But the issue at hand has nothing to do with whether you should or should not eat at Chick-Fil-A. Yes, if you ask me, you are pretty clearly a bigot, which effectively means it’s not worth arguing my views with you. But the issue isn’t who’s right, but the fact that the game is clearly rigged. I don’t oppose your right to say what you want: Given enough time, you’ll either learn better or you’ll just die and a more enlightened generation will be able to fill the gap you leave behind. But I do wish to keep people aware of the sensational rhetorical narrative being used to reframe the entire issue, and sway otherwise sensible and open-minded people to join a heinous movement.
Of course I read it. I cannot explain to you in what way you’re bigoted because our minds are starting from completely different frames of reference, and the translation between them, no matter how eloquently or logically expressed, is invariably crippled by the harsh disjoint between their epistemological foundations. I can’t teach you, you can only discover for yourself.
But that’s not the issue and I’d rather this not be derailed further.
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